HC Deb 02 February 1932 vol 261 cc30-2

(by Private Notice) asked the First Lord of the Admiralty if he can make any statement regarding the recent loss of Submarine M.2?

The FIRST LORD of the ADMIRALTY (Sir Bolton Eyres Monsell)

His Majesty's Submarine M.2 left Portland at about 9 a.m. on Tuesday, 26th January, to carry out independent exercises in West Bay. At 11 minutes past 10 a.m. the Commanding Officer reported by wireless telegraph to His Majesty's Ship "Titania," the Submarine Depot Ship at Portland that he was about to dive. No further signal was received, but uneasiness regarding the safety of M.2 did not arise for some hours, as her Commanding Officer, before leaving Portland, had expressed his intention of carrying out a long endurance dive for the purpose of training the crew. At sunset, however, M.2 having neither returned to harbour nor been sighted, and no surfacing signal having been received from her, the "Titania" commenced to call her by wireless. As she was unable to establish communication by wireless two submarines and all available surface vessels from Portland were at once despatched to search for the submarine in the area in which she had been operating.

At the same time the Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth, and the Submarine Headquarters at Fort Blockhouse, Gosport, were informed by wireless signal that M.2 was missing, the immediate result being that the complete organisation for searching for and salving submarines was brought into force. Sweeping operations were commenced and have continued unceasingly ever since, all possible means of locating the submarine including aircraft being employed under the direction of Rear-Admiral Submarines, but so far without success. Numerous obstructions have been caught in the sweeps, but on examination by divers have been proved to be old wrecks. The position mentioned by the master of the s.s. "Tynesider" has been intensively searched, but has revealed nothing up to date.

The compete absence of any sign of floating wreckage or of oil or air bubbles is a most unusual feature of the case. The coxswain of M/'s cap (floating), a canvas bag containing a pair of hand flags as used only by submarines and also a chief petty officer's collar have been found—the last two in a sweep which had fouled an obstruction.

A full inquiry into all the circumstances will be held in due course, but until the submarine has been located and examined the cause of the disaster must remain unknown.

I am sure that the House would not wish me to close this statement without expressing on behalf of us all our profound regret at the loss of so mans valuable lives in the performance of duty, and our deep sympathy with those who have suffered bereavement.