C Class: Coastal Submarines
The building of C Class submarines saw three significant changes in submarine design and build.
Although they provided improvements on the B class, they would be the last design upgrade from the original Holland class submarine.
In order to make all the necessary improvements in future submarines, a complete rethink in design would have to be achieved.
They would also be the last to be designed with petrol engines.
The second change, the introduction of the forward hydroplanes, was a radical redesign that would lead the way for all submarines to follow.
The third change was the end of the monopoly Vickers had on Submarine building. Chatham was the new yard chosen and six C class were ordered.
It was 1907 and Chatham’s link with submarine building had begun. It would last for a little over 60 years.
The 1905/6 and 1906/07 programmes saw the building of C1 - C18 ( all group 1 boats).
In the 1907/8 and 1908/09 programmes C19 - C38 were built ( all group 2 boats) .
The group 2 boats had a greater displacement, speed and range.
In 1910, three C class were sent to Hong Kong to operate with the China Squadron. Apart from these three and C11 which was sunk after a collision in 1909, all other C class were active in the First World War.
Four boats were sent to the Baltic. Their 4,000 mile journey from Chatham to Archangel was by barge, train and the waterways of Russia. Once on station they came under the command of Captain Francis Cromie (later to be murdered in1918).
One of the four ran aground in 1917 and had to be scuttled. The remaining three were also scuttled at the start of the Russian Revolution.
Back in Europe, C Class submarines sank three U-boats.
Of the six Chatham built C class, C33 was sunk by a mine in 1915 and C34 was sunk by U52 in 1917. The other four survived the war and by 1921 all had been sold.