The British Pacific and East Indies Fleets

The forgotten fleets that fought the Japanese in the Pacific and Indian Oceans



Submarine Depot Ship

Motto: "Lead On"

Pennant No. B376 & A732


Battle Honours

Chesapeake 1781

Camperdown 1797

Dardanelles 1915





Builder: Harland & Wolff, Belfast, Northern Ireland

Displacement: 12,500 tons

Length: 620 ft

Beam: 71 ft

Draught: 18 ft

Speed: 17 Knots

 Crew complement: 1,273


Commanding Officers

Captain  R. S. Warne, RN 10 Jan 1942
Captain R. M. G. Gambier, RN 3 Apr 1943
Captain (ret) C. A. Laffitte, RN 29 May 1943
Captain H. M.C. Ionides, RN 7 Dec 1943
Captain B. Bryant, DSO, DSC, RN 26 Jun 1945 To 4 Jun 1947

Post War

Captain D. C. Ingram 4 Jun 1947
Captain J. T. Lean DSO RN 1953






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Read aloud  

HMS ADAMANT with some of her submarines at Fremantle c.1946

Early history

ADAMANT was ordered on March 1st 1939 from Harland & Wolff, Belfast, as a purpose-built submarine depot ship. Her keel was laid down on May 18th 1939 and she was launched on November 20th 1941. She was completed in January 1942, and after acceptance trials was commissioned on February 28th 1942, Captain R. S. Warne, RN in command.

She was capable of servicing up to nine submarines at a time while accommodating their crews. Her on-board facilities included a foundry, light and heavy machine shops, electrical and torpedo repair shops, and equipment to support fitters, patternmakers, coppersmiths and shipwrights.

Allocated to the Eastern Fleet

The ship was allocated for service with the Eastern Fleet and preparations for her departure from the UK were made over the next three weeks; for the first leg to Freetown, Sierra Leone, she sailed as part of Convoy WS 17 which had assembled at sea, off Oversay Island, on Monday, March 23rd. She arrived at Freetown on Monday, April 6th. The second leg was in convoy WS 17B which departed from Freetown on Saturday, April 11th and arrived at Capetown on Thursday, April 23rd. From Capetown she sailed with WS 19 on Monday April 27th arriving off Durban on May 1st, on May 7th the convoy split into two off Mombasa, WS 19A for Aden and W 19B for Bombay; ADAMANT detached and sailed independently for Mombasa, arriving at Kilindini on May 9th 1942.

On Monday, March 22nd 1943 ADAMANT sailed for Colombo with destroyers QUICKMATCH and NIZAM and local A/S escort, the three ships entered Colombo Harbour on Friday, April 2nd. This was a short stay; she was ordered to return to Kilindini to relieve HMS WAYLAND, and sailed from Colombo on Sunday, June 6th, escorted by the sloop HMIS HINDUSTAN, arriving at Addu Atoll on June 8th.

The following day they sailed to rendezvous with the destroyer NEPAL at 70 degrees East on the 10th. At this point HINDUSTAN, relieved by NEPAL, returned to Addu Atoll while ADAMANT escorted by NEPAL proceeded to Kilindini. ADAMANT arrived Kilindini Wednesday, June 16th.

ADAMANT remained at Kilindini until Tuesday, 28th September 1943 when she sailed to return to Colombo. Escorted by NAPIER, NORMAN and NEPAL she arrived at Colombo on Friday, 8th October. Two days later, Captain 4th Submarine Flotilla, was installed aboard ADAMANT. She did not remain at Colombo for long, she sailed for Trincomalee on December 1st, escorted by QUICKMATCH and RAPID ,

The Submarine depot ship HMS MAIDSTONE joined ADAMANT at Trincomalee on March 3rd 1944; upon her arrival the 4th Submarine Flotilla was split when a new 8th Submarine Flotilla was formed and attached to MAIDSTONE (Note: 8th SM Flotilla then comprised 8 S-Class submarines but increased in July when four T-Class, six S-Class and the Dutch O19 were being supported). MAIDSTONE sailed for Fremantle August 25th 1944.

Operations with the East Indies Fleet

HMS ADAMANT and her 4th Submarine flotilla remained in Trincomalee until April 1945 when she was transferred to Fremantle, Western Australia, she arrived there on April 11th, 1945; her submarines joined her there on completion of their current patrols. She was to relieve HMS MAIDSTONE which sailed to join the British Pacific Fleet on April 19th with her 8th Submarine Flotilla. ADAMANT continued to support the 'T' class boats of the 4th Flotilla in East Indies Fleet operations against the Japanese until the war's end.

Post War

On September 30th HMS MAIDSTONE arrived in Freemantle from Hong Kong carrying liberated allied prisoners of war, she moored astern of ADAMANT at North Wharf. The following day crewmen with a short length of Foreign Service or not due for release on Age & Service grounds were transferred from MAIDSTONE to ADAMANT; on October 10th the two ships performed a further part crew exchange in advance of ADAMANT sailing on the 14th for Hong Kong, via Christmas Island, and the Sunda Straits to arrive at Hong Kong on October 29th. MAIDSTONE sailed on the 25th for the UK, via Simonstown carrying ex- prisoners of war.

On October 14th 1945 ADAMANT and her flotilla sailed form Gage Roads for Hong King, calling at Christmas Island, and then preceded via the Sunda Straits to arrive at Hong Kong on October 29th. Here her submarines were engaged on anti-piracy patrols off the China Coast. Before the submarines went on these patrols, ADAMANT and the submarines took part in exercises in order to give them practice in attacking. ADAMANT was used as the target and the submarines fired dummy torpedoes which were set to run under the depot ship. She was to remain at Hong Kong until February 1946, before returning to No. 4 berth North Wharf, Freemantle on February 28th with the Submarines TAPIR and TOTEM; they were soon joined by TAURUS, VIRTUE, VORACIOUS and VOX, on March 14th. The last member of the flotilla was HMS TURPIN.

On March 23rd 1946 the flotilla split up, TAURUS, TOTEM and TURPIN departed to return to Hong Kong, while VIRTUE, VORACIOUS and VOX, sailed for Singapore and England the following day. ADAMANT sailed for Sydney in company with TAPIR arriving there on April 3rd. At the start of May ADAMANT with submarines TALENT, TAPIR, TAURUS, TIRELESS, TOTEM, TRUNCHEON, and TURPIN began a month of exercises in Jervis Bay. On completion she returned to Sydney on June 3rd in company with TAPIR, TURPIN, and TAURUS before sailing for Brisbane to enter the Cairn cross dock to undergo a period of defect rectification and a boiler clean. The remaining eight submarines of her flotilla were sent to various Australian Cities for the Victory Day Celebrations. She returned to Sydney on June 21st and began preparations for a Pacific cruise and visit to Japan.

HMS ADAMANT with the destroyer HMS PENN and HM submarines TALENT, TALLY HO, TIRELESS, and TRUNCHEON sailed on Friday, July 5th 1946, for a visit to the Pacific Islands Japan and finally Hong Kong. Visits were made to Banaba Island, Kiribati, Fiji, the Caroline's, the Mariana's, Kure in Japan, then on to Hong Kong. After leaving Hong Kong TALLY HO and TALENT returned to UK, arriving home by Christmas 1946.

In 1950, she returned to England, where she served as flagship of the Senior Officer, Reserve Fleet, Portsmouth. In 1953 she took part in the Fleet Review to celebrate the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. In October 1954, she was re-commissioned as depot ship to the 3rd Submarine Squadron at Rothesay Bay, where she was based until October 1957. She moved further up the Clyde in 1959 to Faslane on Gare Loch, ending the permanent RN presence at Rothesay. In early 1964, she moved to the 2nd Submarine Squadron at Devonport. In March 1966 she was listed for disposal. She arrived at Inverkeithing in September 1970, to be broken up.

Last modified: 16 June 2020


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Comments (3)

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Brian Stevenson
Oct 2019
Brian Stevenson (KELSO) says...
I believe the date listed above for HMS Adamant's move from Faslane to Devonport is incorrect. It should be 1962, not 1964. I was part of the crew of HMS Maidstone who transferred to HMS Adamant and took her down to Devonport, and that was in 1962.
Brian Stevenson
Oct 2019
Brian Stevenson (KELSO) says...
Although it states above that HMS Adamant moved from Faslane to Devonport in early 1964 I believe it was either late 1962 or early 1963. I had transferred from HMS Maidstone to HMS Adamant at Faslane and sailed with her to Devonport. I was then drafted to HMS Cambrian, also at Devonport, and this was early 1963, so I know HMS Adamant was at Devonport in early 1963, not 1964.
Rob Stuart
Jun 2015
First Poster
Rob Stuart (Ottawa) says...
The fourth paragraph should read as follows:

"On Monday, March 22nd, 1943, ADAMANT sailed for Colombo with destroyers QUICKMATCH and NIZAM; the three ships entered Colombo Harbour on Friday, April 2nd, 1942, where she joined the submarine Depot Ship HMS LUCIA." (See

Since the Japanese attacks on Colombo and Trincomalee were in April 1942, you may want to delete the next two sentences.

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Sturtivant, R & Balance, T. (1994) 'Squadrons of the Fleet Air Arm’ list 899 squadron as conducting DLT on the Escort Carrier ARBITER on August 15th. It is possible that the usual three-day evolution was cancelled due to the announcement of the Japanese surrender on this date and was postponed for a month.


The reminiscences of

Gordon served with the radio section of Mobile Repair UNit No.1 (MR 1) at Nowra, he was a member of the local RN dance band, and possibly the last member of MONAB I to leave Nowra after it paid off. .

Drafted to

Coming home

In March 1946 I joined 812 squadron, aboard HMS Vengeance, spending some time ditching American aircraft north of Australia. Eventually we sailed for Ceylon ( Sri Lanka ) landing at Trincomalee and setting up a radio section at Katakarunda. In the belief that we were exhausted we were sent to a rest camp at Kandy for a few weeks. We moved down to Colombo to pick up Vengeance and returned to Portsmouth via the Suez Canal . I was discharged in November 1946.

Gordon Theaker