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Sunday, June 01, 2014

The Royal Navy's worst peacetime tragedy 75th anniversary

Today is the 75th anniversary of the Royal Navy's worst peacetime tragedy, the the sinking of the submarine HMS Thetis with the loss of 99 lives in Liverpool Bay, off Llandudno.

As the BBC report an accident happened during sea trials for the new vessel which had sailed from Wirral:

There were 103 men on board on 1 June 1939, twice the usual number, with the Royal Navy crew swelled by engineers from ship builders Cammell Laird.

Due to a combination of unfortunate circumstances, sea water flooded in and the boat nosedived and was unable to resurface.

Because the boat was crowded and air in shorter supply, time was of the essence but the rescue operation was hampered by delays and communication problems.

The men were left fighting rising levels of carbon dioxide, 12 miles off the Great Orme.

I have a family connection to this tragedy as my grandfather worked at Cammell Laird's at this time and I believe was involved in the construction of the HMS Thetis. It is reputed that he was meant to be on board the boat on the fatal day but was unwell and not able to take part.

Below is a documentary telling the story of HMS Thetis.

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