Hms narwhal.jpg
HMS Narwhal (N45)
United Kingdom
Class and type: Grampus-class mine-laying submarine
Name: HMS Narwhal
Builder: Vickers Armstrong, Barrow
Laid down: 29 May 1934
Launched: 29 August 1935
Commissioned: 28 February 1936
Fate: sunk on 23 July 1940
NARWHAL badge-1-.jpg
General characteristics
  • 1,810 tons surfaced
  • 2,157 tons submerged
Length: 293 ft (89 m)
Beam: 25 ft 6 in (7.77 m)
Draught: 16 ft 10 in (5.13 m)
Propulsion: 2 shaft, Diesel (3300 hp) plus electric (1630 hp)
  • 15.5 knots surfaced
  • 8.75 knots submerged
Complement: 59
  • 6 × 21 inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes (bow)
  • 12 torpedoes
  • 1 × 4 inch deck gun
  • 50 mines

HMS Narwhal (N45) was one of the six ship class of Grampus-class mine-laying submarine of the Royal Navy. She was built by Vickers Armstrong, Barrow and launched 29 August 1935. She served in the Second World War in home waters. She was lost in the North Sea on 23 July 1940, probably sunk by German aircraft.


Narwhal had a brief but eventful career in wartime service. In February 1940 she helped HMS Imogen and HMS Inglefield to sink the German U-boat U-63 south east of the Shetland Islands and in May she torpedoed and sank the German troop transport Buenos Aires and torpedoed and damaged the troop transport Bahia Castillo. Bahia Castillo reached port but was declared a total loss.

Most of Narwhal's sinkings were caused by her mines. The German auxiliary minesweepers M 1302 / Schwaben, M 1102/H.A.W. Möllerthe, Gnom 7, Kobold 1 and Kobold 3; the German minesweeper M 11; German auxiliary submarine chaser UJ D / Treff VIII; the armed trawler V 1109 / Antares and the Swedish merchant Haga were all sunk on mines laid by Narwhal.

Ships damaged by mines laid by Narwhal included the armed trawler V 403 / Deutschland, the German merchants Togo and Clara M. Russ. The auxiliary minesweeper M 1101 / Fock und Hubert and the German merchant Palime also struck some of Narwhal's mines. They were successfully beached but declared total losses.

Credit is often given to Narwhal for sinking the Norwegian fishing vessel Arild, but in reality Arild hit a German defensive mine.[1]

Narwhal may also have sunk the German U-boat U-1 which disappeared on patrol on 6 April 1940, having been scheduled to sail unknowingly through a minefield Narwhal had laid earlier that day. Alternatively, Narwhal's sister, Porpoise, reported firing upon an unknown submarine, which may account for U-1's loss.


Narwhal left Blyth on 22 July 1940. On the afternoon of 23 July an aircraft reported attacking a submarine in the area where Narwhal should have been. This was believed to be HMS Porpoise by the Germans but as Narwhal did not report again, it was assumed this attack sank her.[2]

In 2017 a Polish expedition in search of ORP Orzel found a previously unknown wreck which they identified to be most likely HMS Narwhal based on sonar data.[3][4]


  1. ^ HMS Narwhal,
  2. ^ Submarine losses 1904 to present day, RN Submarine Museum, Gosport
  3. ^ "EKSPEDYCJA „SANTI ODNALEŹĆ ORŁA" 2017 ZAKOŃCZONA". Fundacja "Odnaleźć Orła" (in Polish). 9 June 2017. Retrieved 9 June 2017.
  4. ^ Weston, Phoebe (3 November 2017). "Wreck of HMS Narwhal containing the remains of 58 British seaman who were killed during WWII is accidentally found in the North Sea by Polish divers". Daily Mail. Retrieved 1 May 2019.


  • Colledge, J. J.; Warlow, Ben (2006) [1969]. Ships of the Royal Navy: The Complete Record of all Fighting Ships of the Royal Navy (Rev. ed.). London: Chatham Publishing. ISBN 978-1-86176-281-8. OCLC 67375475.

External links

  • HMS Narwhal from