After the surprise Japanese attack on the American port of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii (thrusting the Americans into the global conflict) in December of 1941, the British Royal Navy recognized a need for long-range, deep water / "Blue Water" attack submarines capable of traversing the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean. The Royal Navy had been at war since 1939 and its submarines were not only tied up in the ongoing conflict but the fleet's range was not up to the task of conducting a long-running war over distance against the Japanese Empire in the Far East.
The Amphion-class of submarines was part of the 1943 Emergency War Program (EWP) with an initial requirement for 46 boats. The progress of the war, and the eventual capitulation of the Empire of Japan in August of 1945, meant that only eighteen of the class were laid down and, of these, just sixteen were completed. HMS Alliance (P417) became the seventh boat of the class and brought with such qualities as a snorkel (for submerged intake of air while running under diesel power), an impressive surface speed of 19 knots, and attention to crew comfort for long-range patrols.
HMS Alliance was constructed by the specialists at Vickers Armstrong in Barrow-in-Furness with her keel laid down on March 13th, 1945. She was formally launched on July 28th, 1945 and commissioned into Royal Navy service on May 14th, 1947 - too late to see action in the Second World War (the war ended with Japan's defeat in August of 1945). Her crew numbered sixty-three and was made up of five officers and fifty-six sailors (enlisted).
Structurally, the boat was given an overall length of 281.5 feet with a beam of 22.2 feet and a draught of 17 feet. Power was from 2 x Vickers 8-cylinder diesel-fueled engines developing 2,150 horsepower each for surface-running and 2 x Electric drive motors of 625 horsepower each for undersea running. Two shafts were fitted at the stern for propulsion.
Performance-wise, the craft could reach surface speeds of nearly 19 knots and submerged speeds of 8 knots. Range was a useful 10,500 nautical miles when surface-traveling. Her design allowed her to be submerged for 36 hours and her hull was tested to depths of 500 feet.
HMS Alliance's weapon suite centered on 10 x 530mm (21") torpedo tubes with six bow-facing and four stern-facing. Two bow-facing launchers were fitted externally as were two of the stern-facing weapons. Up to 20 torpedoes could be carried on patrol. Beyond this, surface work was conducted through 1 x 4" QF (Quick-Firing) Mark XX11 deck gun and 1 x 20mm Oerlikon Anti-Aircraft (AA) automatic cannon. For only a short time, the boat also displayed 2 x Oerlikon AA automatic cannons.
Due to the end of the war, HMS Alliance missed out on actions in World War 2 altogether - though she remained a primary player in British naval actions during the ensuing "Cold War" between East and West. Just two of the class were completed before the end of the fighting.
In the post-World War 2 period, Alliance followed suit with many other wartime diesel-electric designs and had her role reworked to that of "Anti-Submarine Warfare" (ASW) to better counter the growing threat of the Soviet Navy's surface and underwater fleet. As such, a refit was undertaken from 1958 into 1960 that involved removal of all of her external torpedo tubes and ballistic deck armament for the purposes of streamlining. Additional refinement was had on the hull and sail structures while sonar was installed and seven more crew were added to her standard operating roster. Undersea performance increased to 10 knots and her acoustic signature was reduced - though all this came at a price for the ship's undersea displacement grew to 1,620 tons.
With the work completed, the boat was redesignated as HMS Alliance (S67).
With the Indonesia-Malaysian Confrontation (1963-1966) in the Far East, HMS Alliance represented part of the British commitment alongside Malaysia with support also stemming from Australia, New Zealand, and Brunei. Beyond general patrol missions, the boat was used in commando insertion sorties and tested out new camouflage schemes (the latter proving unsuccessful). Commonwealth forces were victorious in the conflict, leading to the establishment of present-day Malaysia.
Beyond this, her career took her back into Atlantic Waters. In January of 1968, she ran aground in waters near Bembridge (Isle of Wight) suffering what was only minor damage while, in September of 1971, one crewman was killed when a battery-related hydrogen gas build up ignited.
With her frontline usefulness now behind her, HMS Alliance was transferred to Gosport and served as a static classroom for future submariners until 1979. By this time, the Royal Navy undersea fleet comprised Oberon-class and Porpoise-class boats, leaving no place for a World War 2 relic.
In 1981, she was opened as a preserved museum ship but languished in her outdoor state for years until 2011 when efforts were undertaken to refurbish the boat to a more presentable form. With donations secured, the boat was rebuilt both inside and out with environmental additions made to place visitors "in the action" of submarine life. Completed in 2014, the boat resides in her reborn status at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum to this day (2020). She is the only ship of the class to have been preserved.
Status Decommissioned, Preserved
Complement 61 Personnel
Ship Class [ Amphion-class / A-class ] Ships-in-Class [ 18 ]Ship Names:HMS Ambion (P439/S43); HMS Astute (P447/S45); HMS Auriga (P419/S69); HMS Aurichs (P426/S62); HMS Alcide (P415/S65); HMS Alderney (P416/S66); HMS Alliance (P417/S67); HMS Ambush (P418/S68); HMS Anchorite (P422/S64); HMS Andrew (P423/S63) HMS Affray (P421); HMS Aeneas (P427/S72); HMS Alaric (P441/S41); HMS Artemis (P449/S49); HMS Artful (P456/S96); HMS Acheron (P411/S61); NOT COMPLETED: HMS Ace (P414); HMS Achates (P443)
- Blue Water Operations
- Fleet Support
281.4 ft (85.77 m)
Width / Beam:
22.2 ft (6.77 m)
Height / Draught:
17 ft (5.18 m)
2 x Vickers 8-cylinder supercharged diesel engines developing 2,150 horsepower; 2 x Electric motors generating 625 horsepower.; 2 x Shafts astern.
19 kts (21 mph)
8 kts (9.21 miles)
10,515 nm (12,100 miles; 19,473 km)
6 x 21" (530mm) torpedo tubes (bow-facing); two externally-mounted.
4 x 21" (530mm) torpedo tubes (stern-facing); two externally-mounted.
1 x QF 4" Mark XXIII deck gun (later removed).
1 x 20mm Oerlikon Anti-Aircraft (AA) deck gun (later removed).
20 x Torpedo reloads.
Mark V naval mines.
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