His Majesty’s Submarine E18 was an E-class Submarine of the Royal Navy, built by Vickers at Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria.
Length overall: 181ft Beam: 15ft 1in Draught: 15ft 1in
Displacement: 667 tons surfaced, 807 tons submerged
Propulsion: twin three-bladed propellers, 5ft 7in diameter
Two 1,600 horsepower Vickers diesel engines, two 840 horsepower electric motors
Service speed: 14 knots surfaced, 9.5 knots submerged
Surface endurance: 1,500 miles at full power, or 3,000 miles at 10 knots
Submerged endurance: 10 miles at 9 knots, or 65 miles at 5 knots
Diving depth: 200 ft
Armament: ten 18” torpedoes carried, with two bow, one stern and two beam torpedo tubes
Single 12-pounder (3”) deck gun
Usual complement: 3 officers and 28 ratings
E Class Submarines - General Arrangement Illustration: RN Submarine Museum
Vickers and Barrow are names synonymous with the development of the submarine. The Barrow-in-Furness shipyard, which is currently building nuclear-powered Astute Class boats, has been designing and building submarines since 1886 when the Abdul Hamid, a steam-powered vessel and the first to launch a live torpedo under water, was built for the Ottoman Navy.
Up until 1900, the Admiralty refused to have anything to do with “Submarine Boats” considering them to have a purely defensive role for "weaker maritime nations" and a “damned un-English weapon.” However, when France was seen to be building up a considerable submarine fleet, they conceded that they should at least "test the value of the submarine boat as a weapon in the hands of our enemies.”
The first submarine built for the Royal Navy, Holland 1 (named after John P Holland, its American inventor) was launched in 1901. The Admiralty then progressed rapidly through experimentation and building A, B, C and D class submarines between 1902 and 1912.
E18 was one of fifty-eight E Class submarines designed by Vickers and built at several yards around the UK between 1912 and 1916. The results of experience gained with D1, the prototype diesel-driven submarine, were incorporated into the design and, at a cost of just over £100,000 (about £9m at today’s prices), the E Class went on to became the backbone of the Royal Navy's Submarine Service in World War One.
Boats ordered before the war took up to thirty months to complete. However, ordered just after the outbreak of war, E18 started life at Barrow as Yard No. 453 in late 1914 and was launched on 4th March 1915. Commissioned three months later on 6th June, this was a clear illustration of the urgency and speed with which these submarines were built and taken into service at the time. The next Barrow boat, E19, was built, equipped and handed over to her crew in just eight months.
These boats were considerably larger than the previous D Class, mainly to accommodate the introduction of broadside (beam) torpedo tubes. Six of the later E boats omitted these beam tubes and the space was used to carry 20 mines in vertical tubes instead.
The E Class were the first British boats to be fitted with internal watertight bulkheads, which also strengthened the pressure hull and allowed them to dive to a record depth of 200 feet. With more extensive superstructure and navigating bridge built over the conning tower, they were considerably better sea boats and reportedly easy to manoeuvre even in the roughest weather.