This website uses 'cookies' to give you the best, most relevant experience. Using this website means you're Ok with this.
For more information on our Cookie Policy, click here.
Your Big Day Out

Submarine Construction 1918-1939: The Interwar Construction and Rearmament Programmes

HM Submarines Sturgeon (inboard); Snapper (middle) and Swordfish (outboard) alongside HMS Titania, 1

Between 1918-1939, Chatham Dockyard built seventeen submarines for the Royal Navy. An eighteenth, Torbay, was launched soon after the declaration of war. During the 1920s, international Naval Treaties had limited warship construction in Britain. By 1933, this had resulted in the loss of 4,000 jobs at Chatham alone. However, the growth of German, Italian and Japanese armed forces during the 1930s led the British government to begin a major programme of re-armament. At Chatham this resulted in much needed new work with orders placed both for new submarines and an increased programme of refits. The following submarines were built and launched during the Interwar period:

X1 (1923)
Oberon (1926)
Odin (1928)
Parthian (1929)
Rainbow (1930)
Swordfish (1931)
Sturgeon (1932)
Seahorse (1932)
Starfish (1932)
Shark (1934)
Snapper (1934)
Sunfish (1936)
Sterlet (1937)
Grampus (1936)
Seal (1938)
Tigris (1939)

Only three of these boats - Oberon; Sturgeon and Torbay - survived the war.

The image shows three Chatham built 'S' boats - Sturgeon, Snapper and Swordfish alongside the submarine depot ship HMS Titania at Gibraltar in 1935.

Image: © Royal Navy Submarine Museum

The Historic Dockyard, Chatham, Kent ME4 4TE, England

Info Line: +44 (0)1634 823807 Trust Office: +44 (0)1634 823800 Fax: +44 (0)1634 823801

Fully Accredited Museum - Registered as a Charity No. 292101