Dutch Export Submarines
Orzel class for Poland
The two submarines of the Orzel class were designed and constructed in the Netherlands. Originally four boats were planned but only two were approved. They were ordered as a result of worsening relations between Poland and Germany. The first, Orzel, was paid for by public subscription and the second, Sep, was paid for out of normal Naval Directorate funds.
The Dutch had built some very good submarines in the inter-war years and it was thus not surprising that the Poles should turn to them to build this new class. The design was similar to that of the Dutch Navy's O 19 class, which was building at the same time. They were of double-hull design.
Orzel in Rosyth in early 1940. The pennant number (85A) on the conning tower is scratched out by censors.
Under the contract Poland was to pay the Dutch shipyards 3,235,000 guilders, 103,000 pounds, 900,000 Swiss francs and 226000 zlotys. According to the rates at the Warsaw Stock Exchange in 1936 this amounted to 15.44 million zlotys, paid in twelve instalments separately for each boat. 85% of the preliminary costs were paid in Polish farm products (barley for breweries). The Polish Navy also paid for the armament, radio equipment, etc. so the overall cost exceeded 20 million zlotys. Poland supplied batteries, radio equipment, periscope lenses and steel for hull plating. Overall, Polish contribution accounted for 10.2% of the total worth of the two submarines.
The construction of Orzel was financed by voluntary subscriptions among the army and navy personnel (2,644,566 zlotys) and the community (5,723 699zlotys). The armament was paid for by the Navy. All this money had been raised by October 1937. 80% of those funds was used to pay for the construction of both submarines. Thus, owing to voluntary contributions on the part of the community, the Polish Navy not only got one new sub, but also work on the other one was accelerated. One should remember that between 1934 and 1937 the Polish Navy's budget was burdened with considerable expenses. Several new ships were being built (a large minelayer in France, two destroyers in Britain and four minesweepers in Polish shipyards).
From left to right: Sep, O 23 and O 24. Rotterdam, 15 Aug 1938. Note the 'indoors deck gun' of the Sep. (Photo: © Collection J.J. Kragten). Orzel under construction
Sep wasn't completed by the Dutch R.D.M. shipyard. On 10 January 1939 Sep was ready for trials which continued successfully until April. However, in view of the uncertain political situation the Polish Navy was afraid that the Germans would exert pressure on the Dutch in order to prevent the boat from being delivered to Poland, so the prospective commanding officer (Ltz. I Wladyslaw Salamon) was ordered to 'kidnap' the submarine. On April 2nd Sep left Rotterdam for the Oslo fjord where she was to conduct diving tests. On the 16th she arrived in Norway and made a rendezvous with the Polish destroyer Orp Burza. All but two Dutch dockyard workers were put ashore at the Norwegian Navy base in Horten. Sep was commissioned into the Polish Navy and accompanied by Burza the Sep she sailed to Gdynia where she arrived on the 18th of April. The two Dutch engineers were sent back to Holland. The resulting dispute between the Polish Navy and R.D.M. was settled out of court. Poland paid the last instalment and covered travel expenses of the 'abducted' Dutch dockyard workers. In return, the remaining equipment necessary to complete the boat was shipped from Holland. Sep was to return to Rotterdam in the summer of 1939 to complete her shakedown but because the war was imminent the idea was abandoned.
Launching of Orzel. The man with the hat standing on the bow is Mr Meerman, the chief foreman in charge of Orzel's construction. The saluting officer on the bridge is Kpt. Lt. Niemirski., a member of the Polish Navy Committee supervising the construction of the boat.
Class Orzel Boat Orzel Sep Pennant # 85 A B-11, P-11, 291 Yard # 205 196 Type Ocean-going patrol submarine Contract 29 Jan 1936 Laid down 17 or 14 Aug 1936 Nov 1936 Launched 15 Jan 1938 17 Oct 1938 Completed 26 Jan 1939 1939 Poland Commissioned to
2 Feb 1939 16 Apr 1939
Arrival in Poland 7 Feb 1939 18 Apr 1939 Decommissioned 8 June 1940. Lost in North Sea, hit by
a mine between 23 May and 8 June
15 Sep 1969 Design Nederlandsche Verenigde Scheepsbouw Bureaux in 's-Gravenhage in cooperation with a team of experts from the Polish Navy. Shipyard De Schelde, Vlissingen R.D.M., Rotterdam Le x Be x Dr 84 m x 6.7 m x 4.17 m Displacement 1100 t / 1473.5 t, 1650 t (full load) Engines Two Sulzer 6QD42 6 cylinder diesel engines, 4740 bhp Motor Two Brown-Boveri electric motors, 1100 shp. Batteries 100 cells Fuel 67.5 t normal, 123.5 t maximum Shafts 2 Speed surf/subm 20 kts / 9 kts Diving time 50 seconds Range 7000 nm at 10 kts surfaced
100 nm at 5 kts submerged
Approximately 3 months
Diving depth 100 m, 80 m contracted Complement 6 officers, 54 enlisted Torpedo tubes 4 x 21.7" bow, 4 x 21.7" stern, 4 x 21.7" amidships external in a French-type rotating mount in the upper casing. Tubes fitted with liners to take 21" torpedoes. Torpedo type French 1924V 21.7" or 21" Whitehead AB. In September 1939 both boats were equipped with the 21" Whitehead AB. Mines !? In many books it is written these boats were mine laying submarines, but they were not. Armament 20 torpedoes, incl 8 reloads. Guns 105 mm / 41 Bofors main deck gun in a trainable turret.
1x2 40 mm / 43 wz.37 Bofors A.A. gun, retractable in a vertical watertight well in the after part of the conning tower.
The often reported 1x2 13.2 mm Hotchkiss in one twin mount was only planned in the original designs but was replaced in the design phase by the1x2 40 mm. The 40 mm gun of the Sep is displayed at the Museum Marynarki Wojennej in Gdynia (Poland).
Periscopes Zeiss Notes Welded double hull. Pressure hull divided into five watertight compartments, frames on the outside of the pressure hull allowing for more space inside. All hatches, ballast tank vents, steering, diving planes, periscopes, etc. operated hydraulically (a novelty before the war). Polish submariners had a very good opinion of the two subs, the quality of workmanship was very good, unlike the French-built Wilk class.
Orzel moored at the buoy in Kattenburg, probably 1939. (Photo: © Jan Lagewaard, collection M.R. Lagewaard). Caption updates: 13 May 2005 - Paul Konings writes: "As to my knowledge Kattenburg is in Amsterdam, since ORP Orzel left Flushing
at the beginning of February 1939 and her arrival in Poland on the 10th of
February it is very doubtfull that she made a visit to Amsterdam.
In the background you can a large building with overheadcrane supports
sticking out, looks to me as an building of Werf De Schelde. The floating
device you can see close to the conningtower is probably a raft used by
painters. Also you can see that she is not yet loaded with fuel, provisions
etc, she is high in the water."
|Polish subs related pages|
|The Wilk case|
|The Polish Submarine Orzel: Legend of WWII|
|Paul Konings Submarine Page|
|Okręt podwodny Orzeł (Polish language)|
|Okręt podwodny Sęp (Polish language)|
|ORP Orzel (Polish language)|
|ORP Orzel computer game (Polish language)|
|none that we know of|
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