Before diving the Stubborn, my friend John Entwistle said to me “it is just a metal tube, right?” My answer was “yes, but…”
The Stubborn was a S-class submarine in the British fleet that launched on 11 Nov 1942.
The Stubborn spent most of her early career close to home operating off the Scandavian coast and then went to the Pacific Far East. She had a few attacks against German submarines but never scored a hit but she was responsible for sinking a couple German merchant ships.
During a clash with a German convoy off Norway, she was heavily damaged and her aft hydroplanes were jammed “hard-adive” forcing her to dive deep. She also had some internal flooding and some propeller damage. She plummeted to 400 feet and then the captain blew the main ballast to get her to the surface — only to dive hard again to 500 feet which was 200 feet deeper than her designed depth. What a roller-coaster ride that must have been. She survived the attack and had to be towed home for major repairs.
She then stopped in Malta during a transit through the Suez Canal and spent time patrolling with the allied navies against the Japan Imperial Navy. During this time, she suffered the worst attack of the war and lost her tail fin which had the aft hydroplanes and rudder due to depth charges — but also from hitting the bottom at 550 feet (again, her max design depth was 300 feet).
She sailed back and returned to Malta but they realized the damages were worse than originally though and decided agains trying to repair her again. They stripped all the important equipment and on 30 April 1946, the Stubborn was sunk as a practice target for the British Anti-Submarine Division active submarine detection device (ASDIC) that was being secretly developed.
The Stubborn rested on the ocean floor for almost 50 years before divers discovered here in 1994 — much to everybody’s surprise. Nobody in the Maltese diving community knew that suck a wreck was so close to shore.
The Stubborn is in great condition since it was purposefully sunk. It lists about 10 degrees to the starboard. There are three escape hatches that are all open but they are pretty narrow and apparently there is a lot of sedimentation on the inside so we didn’t do any penetration (but I did get a number of good pictures of the hatches).
The wreck is 217 feet long and has a beam of 23.5 feet. So, it is reasonably big wreck to explore. The highlights of the wreck are the six torpedo tubs in the front (3 port, 3 starboard), the conning tower and the open hatches, the propeller in the stern and the one torpedo tube in the back.
The Malta Tourism Authority has built a 3D photogrammetry model which gives a good overview of the wreck:
The Stubborn sits in about 180 feet of water with the top of the wreck at about 150 feet so it is definitely a technical dive. I tend to prefer wrecks that are sunk due to wartime damage; however, the HMS Stubborn is a very cool wreck to dive. Given the great visibility, you can see almost the entirety of the submarine and it makes for a very impressive site. I highly recommend diving it if you have the qualifications.
Below are photos of the wreck. There are some natural light photos and some of the details that are with my Retra strobes.
Along the way, I also met a few friends inhabiting the wreck: