Daily Event for August 9, 2010

On August 9, 1926 following trials after a refit HMS H-29 was alongside basin #2 at Devonport Dockyard when the boat took on a large quantity of water and less than two minuets she was sitting on the bottom, inside the boat six men remained. The cause of the accident, a careless mistake or misunderstanding. The boat was undergoing engine testing and at the same time was to test the forward torpedo tubes, to do this the boat had to be brought down to normal trim, however a fatal oversight had been made, both the forward and after hatches were open.

The main ballast tanks were flooded to lower the boat, but water soon began to flow through the after hatch and when an attempt was made to close it, a tube allowing air into the boat blocked it, this tube could not be removed in time. Orders were given to clear the boat and blow the tanks and almost everyone made it off, one man, the Chief Engine Room Artificer, remained at his post blowing the tanks which cost him his life.

During the incident Lt. Frank H. E. Skryme, the commanding officer had also ordered the watertight doors closed, which seems to have been the cause of the casualties. According to Surgeon-Commander Alfred B. Cox who autopsied the crew, they all died of suffocation and not drowning. From what I have been able to learn there seems to have been little thought that anyone in the boat had survived the sinking, and there seems to have been no immediate attempt to rescue anyone trapped inside. Most attention appears to have been focused on raising the boat, which was not accomplished until Aug. 12, far too late for the poor souls inside H-29. Their bodies were not removed until Aug. 13.

Two officers faced charges following the incident, commanding officer Skryme was found guilty of negligence for omitting to take charge of the submarine and for failing to have a clear understanding with his First Lieutenant as to what that officers intentions were as regards to trim. 1st Lt. Malcolm Wevell was found guilty for negligently or by default hazarding H29. H-29 was never placed in commission again, but both men remained in the Royal Navy and ended their careers as commanders.
© 2010 Michael W. Pocock

Roll of Honour
In memory of those who lost their lives in HMS H-29
"As long as we embrace them in our memory, their spirit will always be with us"

Dalton, Robert W.
Chief Engine Room Artificer
Royal Navy
Elliott, George W.
Ship's Fitter
Fletcher, John
Hill, Harold
Engine Fitter
Hosking, Edmund M.
Chargeman of Fitters
Truscott, Albert S.

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