In 1931, Britain’s most advanced submarine collided with a cargo ship off the coast of China and sank. Three hours later, six sailors surfaced, barely conscious. They were the first men ever to escape from a sunken submarine using a proto-scuba device. Their story hit headlines and went on to inspire a feature film. The miraculous escape changed marine safety forever. But their names, and their submarine, gradually sank into obscurity.
As a historian and scuba instructor who splits his time between Beijing and Atlantic Highlands, NJ, I was looking for nearby wrecks to dive when I found HMS Poseidon on a list of unexplored sites. My six-year search for the submarine started as a private obsession, but went on to challenge official accounts of the escape, and bring together the lost pieces of a story that touches on the history of Britain and China in the 1930s, the 1970s and the present day.
“Poseidon: China’s Secret Salvage of Britain’s Lost Submarine” will be available starting January 7.
Steven Schwankert, FRGS
Asia Chapter Chair, The Explorers Club
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