"K" Class Submarine (1916)

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Eighteen "K" class steam-powered fleet submarines were completed for the Royal Navy.

They were not a successful design.

Service History

The boats were seemingly cursed, with four of eighteen units being lost to accidents.

They were required to "steam at 23 knots, to dive in five minutes, to dive for six hours, and to be seaworthy on the high seas." An oddly rosy post-war appraisal indicated that they surpassed their requirements, achieving dives in 24 minutes and 15 seconds (K 8 managed 3 minutes, 25 seconds on one occasion). K 12 maintained 24.2 knots over 72 miles. Ten hours of submerged endurance was manageable in calm weather, and two of the boats overtook the Grand Fleet in a gale in September 1918.[1]


By war's end, all boats of "E" class and later were given 3 kilowatt Poulsen wireless sets, affording ranges of 200 miles submarine-to-submarine, and 300-400 miles between shore stations and submarines. Reception of shore stations of 400 miles was common, and high power shore stations could be received over 500-600 miles.[2]



Original design Boats:

  • ten 18-in tubes (four forward, four broadside, one twin revolving mount in superstructure) eighteen torpedoes

K 26:

  • six 21-in tubes forward, twelve torpedoes
  • four 18-in broadside tubes, eight torpedoes


Original design Boats:

  • two 4-in Q.F. guns
  • one 3-in H.A. mount

K 26:

  • three 4-in Q.F. guns

See Also


  1. The Technical History and Index, Vol. 3, Part 21. p. 6.
  2. The Technical History and Index, Vol. 3, Part 21. pp. 16-17.


"K" Class Submarine
Original Design
K 1 K 2 K 3 K 4 K 5
K 6 K 7 K 8 K 9 K 10
K 11 K 12 K 13 K 14 K 15
  K 16 K 17  
Improved Design
  K 26  
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