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The True Story of the M2

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The M2 was the first (and possibly only) submarine aircraft carrier built. It is an amazing wreck that can be reached in about 45 minutes from Portland Harbour (by hardboat). The M2 would surface, launch its seaplane and then quickly submerge again. The widely accepted theory of how it sank is that during exercises, they were just a little bit too quick and opened the hatches underwater.

However, there is a more believable story. When submarines surface, they generally pump air into their ballast tanks to stabilise themselves. When they're ready to submerge again, they expel the air and then sink. However, the M2 was different. Because it needed to be able to surface, launch the plane and then submerge as quickly as possible, it didn't fill its ballast tanks when launching the plane. Instead, it used electric motors to keep it stable on the surface while the plane was being launched. While launching on the fateful day, one of the electric motors failed and the M2 started taking on water.

Lost Patrols The lecture that I went to was by Innes McCartney who has published some very interesting books and videos.

A full description of the wreck itself is available on Divernet.


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Created on: 14 Nov 2004. Modified on: 14 Nov 2004.
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