HMS Saracen (P247)

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For other ships with the same name, see HMS Saracen.
HMS Saracen.jpg
HMS Saracen on the River Mersey in July 1942
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Saracen
Builder: Cammell Laird & Co Limited, Birkenhead
Laid down: 16 July 1940
Launched: 16 February 1942
Commissioned: 27 June 1942
Identification: Pennant number P247
Fate: Sunk on 14 August 1943
General characteristics
Class and type: S-class submarine
  • 814-872 tons surfaced
  • 990 tons submerged
Length: 217 ft (66 m)
Beam: 23 ft 6 in (7.16 m)
Draught: 11 ft (3.4 m)
  • 14.75 knots (27.32 km/h; 16.97 mph) surfaced
  • 8 knots (15 km/h; 9.2 mph) submerged
Complement: 48 officers and men
  • 6 × forward 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes, one aft
  • 13 torpedoes
  • 1 × 3-inch (76 mm) gun
  • 1 × 20-millimetre (1 in) cannon
  • 3 × .303-calibre machine guns

HMS Saracen was an S-class submarine of the Royal Navy, and part of the Third Group built of that class. She was built by Cammell Laird and launched on 16 February 1942.


Her first pennant was P213, to which her commissioning crew objected because of the unlucky connotations of 13, so the Admiralty changed it to P247 (which still added up to 13). She started her wartime career in home waters, where she sank the German submarine U-335 in the North Sea. There were only two survivors out of a crew of 44, one of whom died shortly afterwards after refusing to be rescued, the other being taken prisoner.[1]

HMS Saracen at Algiers, 7 To 10 February 1943 (IWM A15998)

She then served in the Mediterranean, where she sank the Italian submarine Granito, the Italian auxiliary submarine chaser V 3 / Maria Angelette, the French tugs Provincale II and Marseillaise V, the Italian merchant ships Tagliamento and Tripoli and the German merchant vessel Tell. She also attacked and damaged two sailing vessels and the French (in German service) tanker Marguerite Finally. She also attacked a number of convoys, torpedoing and sinking the Italian merchant ship Francesco Crispi. Saracen had less luck attacking other convoys, firing three torpedoes against one made up of the small Italian tanker Labor, the German merchantman Menes, which were escorted by the Italian torpedo boats Calliope and Climene. All torpedoes fired missed their targets. On another occasion, she fired four torpedoes against the German transport ship Ankara and one of her escorts, the Italian destroyer Camicia Nera. Again, all torpedoes fired missed their targets.[2]


On Friday 13 August 1943, whilst on patrol off Bastia, Saracen was spotted by the Italian corvettes Minerva and Euterpe which attacked with depth charges. She remained under water until 2:00 am on Saturday, 14 August. She was forced to surface and as the crew abandoned her, they scuttled the boat to avoid her capture. Two crewmembers lost their lives.[3]


In September 2008 the families of crewmen from HMS Saracen were invited to Corsica to witness the unveiling of a memorial to British secret agents who helped establish the Corsican Resistance, and to the boat that landed them, Saracen. A plaque commemorating the submarine already existed in the fortress at Bastia, where the crew were taken after her sinking.[4]

In 2015, the wreck of Saracen was discovered and photographed on the seabed, at a depth of 1,385 feet (422 m) off the coast of Corsica.[5]


  1. ^ "Abrupt end to U-335′s first patrol". World War II Today. Retrieved 3 August 2012. 
  2. ^ "HMS Saracen (P 247)". Retrieved 16 May 2015. 
  3. ^ "Submarine losses 1904 to present day". RN Submarine Museum, Gosport. 
  4. ^ "Saracen remembered in Corsica". Navy News. Royal Naval Association. January 2009. p. 31. 
  5. ^ Allen, Peter (22 June 2015). "Royal Navy submarine which was scourge of the Nazis and scuttled off the coast of Corsica is finally discovered 72 years later". Daily Mail. Retrieved 23 June 2015. 


Coordinates: 42°45′N 9°30′E / 42.750°N 9.500°E / 42.750; 9.500