D-8 Submarine Launch Casket 1911

Traditionally a woman is invited to launch a new naval vessel and sometimes they are presented with a souvenir of the event. This is often a single item, but on some occasions they are presented the mallet and chisel in a presentation box, made by the naval carpenters. The chisel would be mounted on a support and be placed to cut a symbolic rope. She would use the mallet to strike the chisel, cutting the rope at which point the vessel would be released to slip into the water. This is the only example of a launch casket for a submarine that we can find. The wooden box is 35 cm wide, 23 cm deep and 18 cm high and has shells carved on the side.
The key has a leather fob which is stamped D8. Set into the lid is a metal plaque engraved: SUBMARINE D8 LAUNCHED AT CHATHAM BY Honble Lady Barker 23RD SEPTEMBER 1911.
The wooden mallet is carved around the head 23RD SEPT. 1911 "D.8." and the head of the chisel is engarved D.8 23-9-11



 

Submarine D-8 was built by Vickers Armstrong and launched at Chatham dockyard 23rd September 1911 by The Honourable Lady Clemency Barker, the wife of Major-General Sir George Barker, Royal Engineers. She was born in 1856 in Westminster, London the daughter of John Hubbard, Baron Addington. She married George Barker in 1888. Lady Barker died in February 1940.

The Army and Navy Gazette 30 September 1911 reported:
"Submarine D8 was launched on Saturday at Chatham. She is the eight which has been built at Chatham, and is an improvement upon the previous submarines. The naming ceremony was performed by the Hon. Lady Barker, wife of Major-Gen. Sir George Barker, commanding the East Coast Defences."

In 1914 D8 was part of the subamrine force patrolling the German Bight in the North Sea. During the Battle of Heligoland Bight on 28th August 1914 she was sent to prevent any German warships leaving the River Ems.

17th October 1914 D8 took part in the Ophelia Incident. The marchant ship Ophelia has been taken by the German Navy and equipped as a hospital ship. However, when she was operating she was discovered to be transmitting encrypted messages, which was banned for a hospital ship, under the Hague Convention. D8 shadowed the ship and arranged for HMS Meteor to intercept the Ophelia and board her for inspection. With proof that she was spying, the Ophelia was seized.

D8 maintained patrols during the war and in 1921 was retired from the service.

Launch Caskets are rare to ships, but extremely rare for a submarine.
Price: £1250