HMS Excalibur

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Hms excalibur submarine.jpg
HMS Excalibur (S40)
Naval Ensign of the United Kingdom.svgUnited Kingdom
Name: HMS Excalibur
Ordered: 26 August 1947
Builder: Vickers Armstrong [1]
Launched: 25 February 1955
Completed: 22 February 1958
Nickname(s):The Excruciator [2]
Fate: Scrapped 1968
Notes: Built at a cost of £1,142,000
General characteristics
  • 780 tons surfaced
  • 1,000 tons submerged
Length: 178 ft (54 m)
Beam: 15 ft 8 in (4.78 m)
Draught: 11 ft (3.4 m)
Speed: 25 knots (46.3 km/h) (submerged)
Complement: 49
Armament: None

HMS Excalibur was the sister ship of HMS Explorer, the two submarines being the only high-test peroxide (HTP) powered submarines to be constructed for the Royal Navy. She is the only ship to be named as such, in honour of the sword of Arthurian legend.

HMS <i>Explorer</i> (submarine)

HMS Explorer was an experimental British submarine based on the captured German high test peroxide (HTP) powered U-boat U-1407. U-1407 had been scuttled following the German collapse at the end of the Second World War, was salvaged and eventually commissioned into the Royal Navy as HMS Meteorite. Her recovery was the impetus for a British research programme which resulted in the construction of two experimental submarines, HMS Explorer and HMS Excalibur. Built for speed trials, they were unarmed. Their HTP engines were essentially steam turbines, with the steam being generated by the interaction of HTP with diesel oil and a catalyst.

Submarine Watercraft capable of independent operation underwater

A submarine is a watercraft capable of independent operation underwater. It differs from a submersible, which has more limited underwater capability. It is also sometimes used historically or colloquially to refer to remotely operated vehicles and robots, as well as medium-sized or smaller vessels, such as the midget submarine and the wet sub. Although by definition a ship, submarine evolved as a shortened form of submarine boat and thus by naval tradition, submarines are still usually referred to as "boats" rather than as "ships", regardless of their size.

High-test peroxide (HTP) is a highly concentrated solution of hydrogen peroxide, with the remainder predominantly made up of water. In contact with a catalyst, it decomposes into a high-temperature mixture of steam and oxygen, with no remaining liquid water. It was used as a propellant of HTP rockets and torpedoes, and has been used for high-performance vernier engines.


For details of the decisions leading to their construction, and problems affecting the vessels, please refer to the article on HMS Explorer.


Both Excalibur and Explorer were assigned to the 3rd Submarine Squadron although due to their experimental nature, they tended to operate independently, accompanied by their depot ship HMS Kingfisher and a fuel carrier, RFA Spabeck. They later acted as high speed underwater targets for the Royal Navy's prototype nuclear-powered submarine HMS Dreadnought.

RFA King Salvor (A291), initially HMS King Salvor (W191), was the lead ship of a class of 12 salvage vessels of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary. A 13th ship was completed as a submarine rescue vessel for the Royal Navy as HMS Reclaim.

RFA Spabeck (A227) was a coastal water carrier of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary.

HMS <i>Dreadnought</i> (S101) nuclear submarine

The seventh HMS Dreadnought was the United Kingdom's first nuclear-powered submarine, built by Vickers Armstrongs at Barrow-in-Furness. Launched by Queen Elizabeth II on Trafalgar Day 1960 and commissioned into service with the Royal Navy in April 1963, she continued in service until 1980. The submarine was powered by a S5W reactor, a design made available as a direct result of the 1958 US–UK Mutual Defence Agreement.


The periscope at the golf course, used to see over an adjacent sand dune and tell if the first green is clear Elie Golf Course Starter Hut - - 20451.jpg
The periscope at the golf course, used to see over an adjacent sand dune and tell if the first green is clear

The submarine's periscope survives. It was installed in the starter's hut at the Golf House Club, the golf club at Elie and Earlsferry, Scotland; players and visitors may use it to view the golf course. [3]

Elie and Earlsferry village in the United Kingdom

Elie and Earlsferry is a coastal town and former royal burgh in Fife, and parish, Scotland, situated within the East Neuk beside Chapel Ness on the north coast of the Firth of Forth, eight miles east of Leven. The burgh comprised the linked villages of Elie and Earlsferry, which were formally merged in 1930 by the Local Government Act of 1929. To the north is the village of Kilconquhar and Loch of Kilconquhar.

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Elie Golf Club

Elie Golf Club, also known as Earlsferry Links Golf Course, is a coastal links golf club in Elie and Earlsferry, Fife, Scotland. Only about ten miles from the "spiritual home of golf" at The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, golf has been played here since at least 1589, when a royal charter was passed granting villagers permission to use the links. The formal club, the Elie and Earlsferry Golf Club, dates to 1832 and is one of the oldest golf clubs in the United Kingdom.


  1. HMS Excalibur
  2. Submarine Heritage Centre
  3. Ronnie Leask (12 October 2008). "NO4800 : Periscope in starters hut Elie Golf Course". Retrieved 19 September 2011.


James Joseph Colledge was a British naval historian, author of Ships of the Royal Navy, the standard work on the fighting ships of the British Royal Navy from the 15th century to the 20th century.

<i>Ships of the Royal Navy</i>

Ships of the Royal Navy is a naval history reference work by J. J. Colledge (1908–1997); it provides brief entries on all recorded ships in commission in the Royal Navy from the 15th century, giving location of constructions, date of launch, tonnage, specification and fate.

International Standard Book Number Unique numeric book identifier

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a numeric commercial book identifier which is intended to be unique. Publishers purchase ISBNs from an affiliate of the International ISBN Agency.