E Class: Overseas Patrol Submarines
Developed from the D Class, the E Class were much larger, had a greater range and better armament.
These boats were the first to have watertight bulkheads. The Control room was divided from the fore ends and from the Engine/Motor Room. This giving greater safety in the event of flooding.
Improvements made during the building programme, resulted in this class being divided into three groups. The Group 2 and 3 boats were 3 feet longer had an additional torpedo tube and were fitted with a gun.
All British submarines had a diving depth of 100 feet, however, the build quality of the E Class was shown during the first World War. E12, trapped in anti-submarine nets in the Dardanelles, was forced into a dive. She levelled out at 245 feet. This being the deepest dive of any British submarine of the time.
One of the less successful experiments with this class, was the carrying of sea planes. The aim, was to intercept Zeppelins over the North Sea. Two Sopwith Seaplanes were secured on the casing. If the submarines had cause to dive, the planes were left on the surface to take off and return home. The experiment did not continue.
A total of 58 E Class were built including two for the Australian Navy. Six of the Group 3 boats were built as minelayers.
Due to the high demand for these boats in WW1, orders were placed for the first time with a number of yards. Many with no experience of building submarines.
Chatham dockyard was responsible for six of the class. E1 and E2, originally ordered as D9 and D10, E 7;8;12 and 13 followed.
Despite the high loss (50%) of these craft during the war, they were extremely successful. Numerous surface ships, including one Battleship and one Cruiser together with 7 U-boats were sunk. They operated in Home Waters, the Baltic, Adriatic, Mediterranean Sea and in the Dardanelles.
Of the six VC's awarded to the Submarine Service in WW1, three came to the commanders of E Class submarines.
Lt Cdr E C Boyle (1915) and Lt Cdr G S White (1918) both commanded E14. Lt Cdr M Nasmith (1915) commanded E11.