"E" Class Submarine (1912)

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A total of fifty-seven "E" Class Submarines entered service in the Royal Navy and Royal Australian Navy between 1913 and 1917. The Royal Navy considered these to be "patrol" (as opposed to coastal or fleet) submarines.[1]

Though they were produced in considerable numbers, the "E" boats were so successful that their numbers were deemed insufficient. In light of this view, the "L" class boats would be designed and prduced as enlarged "E"s.[2]

The boats delivered outstanding service in the Great War, but advances in technology and design, and the large numbers of older submarines available at war's end mitigated against their longevity. About twenty were retained after the war's end, but all but one were in a collective reserve at Portsmouth. All were disposed of before the mid-1920s.

Design and Construction

Design drawing for E 17 through E 24.[3]


The Grand Fleet Battle Orders specified that the top speed on the surface was 14 knots, but that a more realistic "sea-going speed" was 12 knots.[4]


E 28 was cancelled before completion.

On 11 November, 1914, a conference of representatives of shipbuilding firms were asked to prioritise their capacity to build "E" class boats, and this resulted in an order for 38 boats from 12 firms, with an additional two being ordered from Denny before the month was out.


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.[5]


E 1 - E 8:

  • four 18-in tubes (one forward, one stern, 2 broadside), eight torpedoes

E 19 - E 25 (with appropriations per boat specified in 1913 and 1914):[6][7]

E 9 - E 56 (as delivered):[8]

  • two 18-in tubes forward, undepressed, Elswick high impulse or Service
  • two 18-in tubes broadside, undepressed, Service
  • one 18-in tube aft, B lip end in E 19 and later


  • three 18-in tubes (two forward, one stern)
  • twenty mines


Though in 1912 it had been decided that all "oversea" submarines should carry a 12-pdr, this class was seemingly built without a gun,[9] though the drawing above seems to imply some may have been equipped with, or designed to support, a 12-pdr aft.

See Also


  1. The Technical History and Index, Vol. 3, Part 21. p. 11.
  2. The Technical History and Index, Vol. 3, Part 21. p. 6.
  3. The Technical History and Index, Vol. 3, Part 21. Plate 1.
  4. Golding. Grand Fleet Battle Orders. p. 46.
  5. The Technical History and Index, Vol. 3, Part 21. pp. 16-17.
  6. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1913. p. 46.
  7. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1914. p. 46.
  8. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1915. p. 36.
  9. The Technical History and Index, Vol. 4, Part 28. p. 19.


  • Gray, Randal (editor) (1985). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1906–1921. London: Conway Maritime Press. (on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk).

"E" Class Submarine
E 1 Group
E 1 E 2 E 3 E 4 E 5
E 6 E 7 E 8 AE 1 AE 2
E 9 Group
E 9 E 10 E 11 E 12 E 13
E 14 E 15 E 16 E 17 E 18
E 19 E 20 E 21 E 22 E 23
E 25 E 26 E 27 E 29 E 30
E 31 E 32 E 33 E 35 E 36
E 37 E 38 E 39 E 40 E 42
E 43 E 44 E 47 E 48 E 49
  E 50 E 52 E 53  
  E 54 E 55 E 56  
  E 24 E 34 E 41  
  E 45 E 46 E 51  
<– "D" Class Submarines (UK) "S" Class –>