Twelve XE-class midget submarines (HMS XE1 to XE6) were built for the Royal Navy. They were an improved version of the X Class midgets used in the attack on the German battleship Tirpitz.
They carried a crew of four, typically a Lieutenant in command, with a Sub-Lieutenant as deputy, an Engine Room Artificer (ERA) in charge of the mechanical side and a Seaman or Leading Seaman. At least one of them was qualified as a diver.
In addition to the two side charges (each of which contained two tons of amatol explosive), they carried around six 20-pound limpet mines which were attached to the target by the diver.
They and their depot ship HMS Bonaventure arrived at Labuan in July 1945. Four of them managed to see action before the war ended.
XE8, seen above, is the only survivor of the class. She was built in 1944 and in 1945 was used at Portsmouth for training.
Decommissioned in 1952, she was used at Portland as a submerged target for anti-submarine warfare training, being moored at a depth of 45 feet. However, she quickly sank in 25m of water. She was eventually located in 1972 and raised by HMS Kinbrace in 1973.
Placed on the National Register of Historic Ships, she was given to the Imperial War Museum, which has loaned her to Chatham Historic Dockyard. She is gradually being conserved, having been in a very poor state when raised from the seabed.
Seen in the Covered Sheds at Chatham Historic Dockyard. In the foreground is a modern full-size submarine's periscope.