HMS K13, a steam-powered submarine, was built at Fairfield Shipbuilders, Glasgow, and launched on the 11th November 1916.
29 January 1917, whilst on sea trials in Gareloch , there was a terrible disaster.
On board the K13 were 80 souls– 53 crew, 14 employees of a Govan shipbuilder, five Admiralty officials, a pilot and the captain and engineer of sister submarine K14. While attempting to bring the decks awash, icy Scottish seawater poured into the engine room of the submarine, killing those stokers, enginemen and water tenders working the compartment.
Fifty men were left alive on the stricken ship, which by that time was powerless at the bottom of the loch. The two seniormost present, K13‘s skipper Lieutenant Commander Godfrey Herbert and his K14 counterpart, Commander Francis Goodhart, tasked themselves to make a suicidal break for the surface on a bubble of air released from the otherwise sealed off conning tower to get help– though only Herbert made it alive.
Once topside and picked up by another waiting submarine, Herbert helped pull off a what is noted by many as the first true Submarine Rescue which involved dropping airlines to the submarine while the 48 remaining men trapped inside endured a freezing, dark hell for 57 hours until they were able to be brought to the surface as the buoyant end of the submarine, pumped full of air pressure, broached the surface and a hole was cut to remove the survivors while the ship was held by a hawser.
Raised two months later, she was repaired, the bodies of 29 lost in her engine room removed as was the fallen skipper of K14 (while one other body was recovered from the loch, the remaining men were never found).
The K13 she was recommissioned as K22 before being sold for scap in December 1926.
Frederick Raymond Porter, one of the young men who died in the sinking of K13:
On Monday 13 October I visited the graves of those who died in this terrible accident.
I found, overlooking the crosses, several beautiful angels. I needed to believe in angels before I could read the next two documents: