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Submarine Heritage Centre
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Cumbria, LA13 OLJ, UK
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Thames Class painting HMS Medway painting
Sponsorship Comments  

The Members of the Submariners Association - Northern Ireland Branch sponsored this painting.

Technical Data

Submariners crest
Submarine Depot Ship. The 8 th Ship to carry this name since 1693.
Builder: Vickers Armstrong Limited - Barrow.
Yard Number: 629
Laid Down: April 1927.
Launched: 19th July 1928 - by Lady Chatfield, wife of the 3rd Sea Lord.
Completed: 6th July 1929.
Dimensions (in feet): Length: 580 ft, Breadth: 85 ft, Draught: 19ft 9 inches.
Displacement: 14,650 tons.

2 x Vickers - MAN 2SC SA 8cylinder diesel engines = 8,000 bhp Twin shafts.

Speed: 15 knots.
Fuel: 500 tons plus 1,900 tons for submarines.

2 x 4 inch, 4 x 4 inch High Angle Anti-aircraft (4 x 1)

Complement: 400 including workshop personnel and submarine spare crew.
Accommodation: 35 Officers and 1,500 ratings from submarines berthed alongside.
Historical Data



China Station supporting the 4th Submarine flotilla.


Alexandria, supporting the 1st Submarine Flotilla, also acted as the Depot for the 1st Special Boat Squadron.

30th June 1942

Torpedoed and sank by U372 (Kapitan Lieutenant Heinz Joachim Neumann).

H.M.S. Medway

Was the first purpose built submarine depot ship for Royal Navy submarines. All previous depot ships had to be converted from their original use. Medway was designed to accommodate 18 boats of the P and O class, plus more in time of war.

Completely fitted out to cover all needs, with a foundry, coppersmiths, plumbers and carpenters shops, heavy and light machine shops, electrical and torpedo repair shops and generators for charging submarine batteries.

World War II

Medway was moved from the China Station to Alexandria in 1940, this was the main base for the Mediterranean Fleet.

However, by the end of June 1942, British strategy in the Mediterranean was dead in the water, with the British 8th Army on the defensive only 60 miles from Alexandria .

This situation caused the Commander-in-Chief, Admiral Harwood (of River Plate fame) to precipitately give the order for the fleet to evacuate the base.

A previously well-planned three-week withdrawal strategy was ignored, and the withdrawal was carried out in 48 hours, with the resultant chaos. The ships withdrew to either Port Said or Haifa . This unnecessary and hasty withdrawal resulted in the loss of the Medway.

Medway, escorted by eight destroyers sailed for Haifa , in the process U372 got through the destroyer screen with the inevitable result.

The loss of Medway with all her facilities, including 114 spare torpedoes and spare submarine equipment, caused submarine operations in the eastern Mediterranean to come to a standstill. Just as importantly, the submarine crews at sea lost all their kit and personal belongings

Medway was the only submarine depot ship to be lost during WWII.

Artists Notes

Main Painting - Water Colour.

The main painting shows H.M.S. Medway somewhere on the Far east Station surrounded by her submarine charges and local native craft.

Upper Mount.

Submarine Dolphins.

Lower Mount.

A pencil drawing of H.M.S. Medway. In the centre is the ships crest for H.M.S. Medway.

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