THERE is a reason why the number 13 has never been given to a Royal Navy submarine since 1917.

It is nothing to do with traditional superstition, however.

Instead, it is the result of one of the worst disasters to be associated with a Clyde-built vessel, which is commemorated in a Glasgow park.

Glasgow Times: Members of the Submariners AssociationMembers of the Submariners Association (Image: Royal Navy)

The granite drinking fountain in Elder Park, Govan, is a poignant reminder of “super-submarine” K13, which was built at Govan’s Fairfield yard during the First World War.

During sea trials on Gare Loch, it gained distinction as the world's fastest submarine, having covered the measured mile at a record 23 knots.

On the morning of January 29, 1917, K13 submerged with her crew.

The steam-propelled submarine was supposed to "trim level" at 20ft below the surface but, tragically, she simply kept sinking, to the horror of those on board.

Glasgow Times: The memorial stands in Elder Park, in GovanThe memorial stands in Elder Park, in Govan (Image: Newsquest)

There was a total of 80 people on board at the time – 53 Royal Navy personnel, 14 Fairfield’s employees, five sub-contractors, five Admiralty officials, river Clyde pilot Joseph Duncan, and two crew from sister-submarine K14.

A frantic 57-hour rescue mission followed with the Captain of K13, Lieutenant Commander Godfrey Herbert, and the Captain of K14, Commander Francis Goodhart, attempting to escape the vessel to aid the surface rescue attempt.

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Sadly, Commander Goodhart died after hitting his head on the vessel’s superstructure and drowning. 

Eventually an airline was attached allowing the bow of the submarine to rise to the surface and a hole to be cut in the casing to evacuate the 48 survivors.

The memorial, across the road from the old Fairfield yard, reads: "Sacred to the memory of those named who lost their lives in HM Submarine K13 in the Gareloch 29th January 1917."

A plaque at the bottom of the statue, added in later years, reads: "In memory of all Allied submariners WWll. Still on 'patrol' by families and friends."

The fountain is topped by a crown and has an anchor carved into the granite.

K13 was later re-fitted and became K22 - but the number 13 has never again been given to a Royal Navy submarine.

Veterans and serving Royal Navy submariners gathered recently to remember those lost during the disaster.

Glasgow Times: Commander Peter Noblett pays his respectsCommander Peter Noblett pays his respects (Image: Royal Navy)

The West of Scotland branch of the Submariners Association commemorated the 107th anniversary of the K13 disaster at a special ceremony in Elder Park.

The event was supported by the Barrow-In-Furness, Essex, Dolphin, and Scottish branches of the Association who headed to HM Naval Base Clyde to join members of HMS Neptune, Submarine Flotilla, Submarine Qualification Course (North), RM Band Scotland, and the Clydebank and Helensburgh Sea Cadets.

As in previous years the event was also supported by The Submarine Family.

A service of remembrance was led by Reverend Stephen Dray, followed by a visit to Fairfield’s Heritage Centre.

There was also a short service in the base church prior to the memorial service at Faslane Cemetery, where the majority of the crew that perished are buried. Alongside the serving and veteran submariners attending was Alistair Swift who had travelled from Aberdeen. Alistair’s grandfather, Joe Swift, survived the sinking of K13.

The Submariners Association’s Andy Knox, said: “The weekend’s events were truly humbling and a reminder of the importance of the history of the Submarine Service and the sacrifices of those that served and paid the ultimate price in support of their country.”

During the service, the ship’s bell from K13 was rung 32 times, once for each of the people who lost their lives.