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by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 1997

HMS MAIDSTONE  - Submarine Depot Ship

Edited by Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net;

HMS Maidstone (Photo Ships, click to enlarge)

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MAIDSTONE-Class Submarine Depot ship built by John Brown of Clydebank, Glasgow ands laid down on 30th August 1936. The ship was launched on 21st October 1937 as the 9th RN ship to carry the name, introduced in 1650 to commemorate the taking of the town by Fairfax in 1648 and was sold in 1929. Build was completed on 5th May 1938 and deployed as Depot Ship for the 1st Submarine Flotilla based in Malta until the outbreak of war with Germany in Sept. 1939. Following a successful WARSHIP WEEK National Savings Campaign in March 1942 she was 'adopted' by the civil community of Maidstone, Kent.


B a t t l e   H o n o u r s




H e r a l d i c   D a t a

Badge:  On a Field Blue, a Lion passant Gold upon wavelets Silver and Blue.


M o t t o

 Urbis Fortuna Navis:  ' The fortune of the city  is  the  fortune of the ship ‘



S u m m a r y   o f   S e r v i c e


(for more ship information, go to Naval History Homepage and type name in Site Search



1 9 3 8

April                   Commissioned for trials.



                 5th      Accepted into service.


June                     On completion of trials prepared for service at Malta in support of 1st Submarine Flotilla.


July                      Deployed at Malta as Depot Snip and took part in Fleet exercises and visits


1 9 3 9


January                Mediterranean deployment in continuation.




September           After outbreak of war deployed in Atlantic for support of submarines being used for convoy defence.

to                          Nominated for deployment at Rosyth for support of submarines.



1 9 4 0


                            Deployed at Rosyth for support of submarines carrying patrol duties in North Sea.


1 9 4 1


                            Home water submarine support in continuation.

                            Nominated for service in support of submarines at Gibraltar


1 9 4 2


                            Deployed at Gibraltar for submarine support duties.

                            (Note:  Many operations were planned on board including those which were associated with the

                                        allied landings in North Africa.

                                        (Operation TORCH. See ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY by Corelli Barnett

                                         and the Naval Staff History (HMSO).


 1 9 4 3


                           Transferred to Qran in continuation of submarine support duties.

                           Nominated for service with Eastern Fleet submarines based in Ceylon,


1 9 4 4


January              Took passage to Ceylon via Suez and Aden.



              18th      At Massawa

              19th       Sailed from Massawa for Ceylon with call at Aden.



               3rd       Arrived at Trincomalee and joined Eastern Fleet. for support of 8th Submarine Flotilla.

                           (Note:  Flotilla then comprised 8 S-Class submarines but increased in July when four

                                       T-Class, six S-Class and the Dutch 019 were being supported).


April                  Deployed at Trincomalee.




August               Transferred to Fremantle to support submarines of 8th Flotilla for operations in sea areas

                           around Indonesia and East Indies.

.             25th      Sailed to Fremantle.



                4th      Joined US submarine tenders USS EURYALUS and GRIFFIN at Fremantle.

              11th      HM Submarine PORPOISE sailed for special operation using submersible canoes to attack

                           shipping at Singapore.

                           (Operation RIMAU - This was a failure and crews who survived were executed after being

                           captured by the Japanese).


October              Submarine support at Fremantle in continuation.




1 9 4 5


January              Towed from berth at Fremantle to avoid serious damage when oil fuel caught fire on the water.


February            Support of Eastern Fleet submarines in continuation.





                1st      Transferred to British Pacific Fleet as part of reorganisation of Eastern Fleet.

              19th      Took passage to Subic Bay in support of RN submarines operating in S. China Sea.

                           Called at Sydney on passage.


May                    Passage from Sydney to Subic Bay with call at British Fleet Base at Manus in Admiralty


              20th       Arrived at Subic Bay and joined US submarine depot ships.

                            Provided support for HM Submarines SOLENT, SLEUTH, SPARK, SUPREME, STYGIAN

                            STURDY, SEA SCOUT.

                            (Note: HM Submarines SELENE, SPEARHEAD, STUBBORN and SIDON joined later).


June                     Deployed at Subic Bay for support of 8th Submarine Flotilla in continuation.

to  July



              15th        Reverted to RN control after end of hostilities with Japan.

                             Nominated for service in Task Group 112.2 for re-occupation of Hong Kong.

              27th        Joined m Aircraft Carrier INDOMITABLE, HM Light Fleet Aircraft Carrier

                             VENGEANCE, HM Cruisers SWIFTSURE, EURYALUS and HM Canadian Auxiliary

                             PRINCE ROBERT screened by HM Destroyers KEMPENFELT, URSA, WHIRLWIND

                             and HM Australian Destroyer QUADRANT as Task Group 112.2.

                             Submarines of 8th Flotilla also joined this Group.

                             Took passage with Group for Hong Kong.

              30th         Remained at sea during operations to ensure safe passage to harbour.


September             Assisted in re-occupation of Kowloon.

                              Nominated for transport of repatriated POW from East Indies camps. -                    \

                              Took passage to Macassar, Celebes

.             24th         Embarked 459 POW at Celebes

              30th         Arrived at Fremantle.


October                 On release from repatriation duties took passage to return to UK.





1 9 4 6   t o   1 9 5 5


                              After refit resumed submarine support duties in Home waters, based at Portland.

                              Took part in Home Fleet exercises and visits with attached submarines.


1 9 5 5


                              During service at Portland took part in rescue operations after an explosion of a torpedo on

                              board m Submarine SIDON.

                              (Note:  This was caused by leakage of hydrogen peroxide whilst weapon was in the

                                           torpedo tube.

                                           Hydrogen peroxide was being used for trials of a new design of torpedo and the

                                            explosion removed both tube door and bow cap allowing the direct access

                                            of water into the submarine which sank.

                                            She was later salved but found beyond economic repair and sunk as a target off



1 9 5 6    t  o   1 9 5 7


                              Became Flagship of the Commander in Chief Home Fleet and took part in the Visits and

                              Exercise programmes.

                              Visited Helsinki with HM Light Fleet Aircraft Carrier OCEAN.


1 9 5 8


                              Home Fleet duties in continuation.

                              Selected for modernisation to enable provision of support for nuclear submarines.


April                      Paid off into Dockyard Control at Portsmouth

                               Taken in hand for modernisation.


May                       In Dockyard hands.




1 9 5 9   t o   1 9 6 1


                                Modernisation in continuation.

                                4.5in armament removed.

                                Additional facilities provided in mid-ships structure.

                                Surface warning radar fitted.

                                Workshop arrangements modified to provide suitable repair and support for nuclear

                                powered submarines.


1 9 6 2


                                Post repair trials and work-up prior to deployment in Clyde

.                               Provided support for 3rd Submarine Squadron at Faslane.


1 9 6 3   t  o   1 9 6 7


                                Clyde deployment in continuation.

                                Nominated for reduction to Reserve status after Clyde Submarine Base, HMS NEPTUNE

                                became operational and support base for submarines based at Faslane.


1 9 6 8



             23rd           Took passage to Rosyth to pay off into Reserve


February.                 Paid off and destored.


March                      Reducing to Reserve


April                        Laid up at Rosyth.




1 9 6 9


January                    Laid-up at Rosyth




September                Selected for use as an Accommodation Ship for troops sent to Belfast  to  support

                                 local authorities during civil unrest.


October                    Re-commissioned at Rosyth.


November                Deployed at Belfast as an Accommodation Ship.



1 9 7 0   t o   1 9 7 6


                                 Deployed at Belfast and also used as a Prison Ship.


1 9 7 7


                                 On release from duties at Belfast by military authority reverted to RN control.

                                 Towed to Rosyth to re-enter Reserve Fleet.

                                 Reduced to Reserve Status


1 9 7 8


                                 Placed on Disposal List and sold to BISCO for demolition by TW Ward.



              23rd            Towed to breakers’ yard at Inverkeithing near Rosyth.



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