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Warship Wednesday9th August 2023

Warship Wednesday: HMS GRAMPUS

HMS GRAMPUS was constructed at HM Dockyard and launched on 25th February 1936. Grampus was the class name submarine, the Grampus class consisted of 5 Minelaying Submarines.

GRAMPUS was 293ft long x 25ft 6ins wide and displaced 2,157 tons submerged. The ships company numbered 59 men.

Armed with 6 torpedo tubes and a 4in gun the class was also capable of carrying 50 Mk 16 mines. The mines were carried on a single line of rails fitted to the top of the pressure hull and enclosed by a non-watertight, high casing 65ft long.

In 1944 a special type of mine became available that could be launched through the torpedo tubes of any submarine.

During the war, the Grampus class suffered a heavy loss rate, only one submarine of the class, RORQUAL, survived the war.

In 1940 GRAMPUS was serving in the Mediterranean based at Malta, she was sunk on 16th June 1940, by Italian torpedo boats off Syracuse while returning from her first minelaying operation.

Chatham Dockyard built one other of the class, SEAL, launched on 27th September 1938.

What is a Grampus?

Grampus is another name for the Risso’s Dolphin. Risso’s dolphin (Grampus griseus) is the only species of dolphin in the genus Grampus. It is commonly known as the Monk dolphin among Taiwanese fisherman.

“Grampus” is also a former name for the Orca or ‘Killer Whale’ but is not often used to describe this species now.

Did you know?

Orcas are not actually whales but the largest members of the dolphin family.

You can see an Orca skeleton on display outside the entrance to our Monsters of the Deep exhibition, hanging above deep sea specimens from the National Oceanography Centre.

A small window into our past

Like what you’ve read? Learn more about the work of the Dockyard and the people who not only built ships at Chatham but served on them for 400 years.

Our Collections Online, Digital Exhibitions, Reading Room, Online Dockyard History, and much more are available to help you dive a little deeper into our history.

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