H.M. Submarine Seal (Minelayer)

Grampus (Minelayer) Class

Pennant No.:

Laid Down:
9th December 1936.
H.M. Dockyard, Chatham.

24th May 1939.
Lt. Cdr. R. P. Lonsdale.

Nov. 1938 - May. 1940
Lt. Cdr. R. P. Lonsdale.

Officers and Ratings.

Service Career:
Sept. 1939
4th Flotilla, China Station. (Due to hostilities she returned home before reaching the China Station).
Nov. 1939
5th Flotilla, HMS Dolphin, Gosport (Halifax Escort Force).
2nd Flotilla, H.M.S. Forth, Rosyth.

Completed ten 'War Patrols'.  She was captured by the Germans on 4th May during her eleventh patrol.

Seal was intercepted by enemy aircraft and attacked before being able to lay her mines in the designated area. On reaching the designated minelay area she found anti-submarine trawlers at the position, having been alerted by the aircraft sighting.

It was decided to lay the mines in the alternative area. The Germans had gathered more anti-submarine trawlers in Seals area which restricted her movements. Whilst trying to evade the enemy Seal suffered an explosion in her stern. It is believed that she had wandered into an unchartered minefield and hit a mine with her stern.

Seals stern sank and buried itself in the mud, it was decided not to attempt to free her until darkness by which time she had been dived for some eighteen hours.

All attempts to surface Seal failed until as a last attempt all the crew were ordered to move forward, fortunately this worked and Seal surfaced some twentythree hours after diving.

It was intended to make for neutral Sweden, but Seal found her bow pointing towards Denmark and had no means of steering as the rudder had been damaged in the explosion. It was decided that this operation would have to be done with the submarine going astern.

Shortly after this decision one of her engines broke down which disabled Seal completely as she was unable to steer with one propellor and no rudder and was only able to move in a circle.

Whilst all this was going on Seal was sighted by a German seaplane which attacked her with gunfire and eventually with bombs as did a second seaplane which joined the attack. Seal attempted to defend herself with her Lewis guns but to no avail. She was continuously hit by cannon-shell which punctured one of the port ballast tanks making her take on a heavy list to port, her remaining engine at this time decided it had enough and also stopped.

Now finding herself totally helpless steps were taken to make sure that nothing of a confidential nature would fall into enemy hands. Seal was fitted with two depth charges in her bilges which were set to explode at 50 feet if the boat was flooded. Lonsdales concern was that if the boat sank before the crew were rescued the boat would explode killing them in the water, on the other hand if the boat was taken in tow he was convinced that she would sink before being docked or beached. He decided that he could not risk the lives of his crew and decided to surrender.

Seal was taken in tow to Frederikshavn where she was repaired sufficiently enough to make the trip to Germany. She reached Germany by 11th May and was commissioned in the German Navy in 1941.

At his court martial after the war Lt. Cdr. Lonsdale was honourably acquitted.

Accounted for the following vessels which were sunk by mines.
Vogesen 4,240 tons , Aimy 200 tons, Skandia 1,248 tons all on the 4th May 1940.

Mined in the Kattegat 4th May 1940, surrendered and later put into service by the German Navy as UB, scuttled at Kiel in May 1945, salved and scrapped.