Built at Barrow-in-Furness by Vickers-Armstrong and launched in 1945, HMS Alliance was one of fourteen ‘A’ class submarines built for service in the Far East during World War 2. Commissioned into the Royal Navy in 1947 Alliance had a long and distinguished career of over 28 years that took her all over the world. Alliance is the centrepiece of the Museum and is the official memorial to the courageous men who fought in similar boats for the freedom we enjoy today. The submarine experience is brought to life by a guided tour enhanced by the first hand experiences of retired submariners, many of whom served in this class of boat.
The forty-minute tour takes the visitor from the forward torpedo compartment, through the accommodation section to the control room, where visitors learn something of navigation, diving and surfacing. The tour then moves to domestic services, including the heads and the galley. Visitors are then led through the heart of the engine room to finish up in the after torpedo compartment where the guide explains how to escape from a submarine. The guided tour helps to recreate the atmosphere, smell, conditions, and sounds on-board a submarine of the Second World War. The Royal Navy entered World War 2 with 100 submarines similar to HMS Alliance, and many campaigns were fought and won thanks to the contribution they made, but at a tremendous cost and sacrifice. The chance of not returning from patrol during the latter part of the War in a boat similar to HMS Alliance was 65%. Nine Victoria Crosses were won by brave submariners.
When HMS Alliance was first commissioned she had a low conning tower, anti-aircraft guns and a 4”gun mounted at the front of the conning tower. All these features were typical for a submarine of this period. However, the role of the submarine changed in the post war period: the main purpose of submarines became hunting other enemy submarines. In order to carry out this role submarines were designed to be faster and quieter when under-water. In 1958 Alliance underwent modernisation work which saw the conning tower and guns replaced by a fin that completely covered her periscopes when dived. Both these alterations made Alliance more streamlined and better equipped for submarine warfare in the Cold War era.
The Royal Navy Submarine Museum . Haslar Jetty Road . Gosport . Hampshire . PO12 2AS
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