Destination UK

Royal Navy Submarine Museum, Portsmouth

Posted on
September 12, 2017

We had annual passes to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and visited regularly last year, but there was one site we never quite got to – the Royal Navy Submarine Museum, which is situated over the water in Gosport.
This weekend we finally got there and what a treat it was!
Royal Navy Submarine Museum
With free parking, the museum is located on the waterfront on the former site of HMS Dolphin; home to the Submarine Service for 100 years.
Royal Navy Submarine Museum
There is plenty to see as soon as you arrive with dive suits for the kids to clamber inside, a small explorer submarine to admire, a giant propeller and torpedo’s to clamber on.
Submarine Museum
Of course we were there to see HMS Alliance, Britain’s only remaining World War II submarine.
World War II submarine
The Submarine Museum itself is family friendly with plenty of hands on fun for the kids to get stuck in to.
Submarine Museum
There were challenges for them to try such as identifying submarine noises, learning how to make submarines dive and achieve a neutral buoyancy (more difficult than it looks) and even take part in a daring rescue mission.
Submarine Museum
There is also the chance to get onboard HMS Alliance for a tour with a submariner to hear his stories about living beneath the waves.
HMS Alliance
You enter the submarine through a door that has been made in the side of the submarine and head inside the torpedo compartment where you are introduced to your guide.
Submarine Museum
Although the submarine looks huge from the outside, it is extremely cramped onboard and storage space is minimal. The submarine has been dressed as if it is going to sea with items stored wherever they could fit. It was surreal to see boxes of custard and tins on the floor and fruit hanging from the ceiling next to the torpedoes!
Submarine Museum

The submariner was brilliant and described just how the submarine would have been to live in. We all turned our nose up when he described the smell, a mix of diesel, human waste, cigarette smoke and sweaty men as there were no wash facilities or running water onboard, plus the men would stay in the same clothes for up to 8 weeks!!
Submarine Museum

The kids were fascinated by the living quarters, which have been reconstructed as they would have been back in the 1950s, with snoring sounds coming from the bunk beds and the sound of men eating and drinking.
Submarine Museum
The submariners had minimal personal space whilst on board with a system of ‘hot-bunking’ as there wasn’t sufficient space for everyone to have their bed.
Submarine Museum
The highlight for us was the engine room with its realistic noises and the submariner even let of the dive alarm, which was surprisingly loud!
Submarine Museum
All the kids adored looking through the periscopes which offered great views over Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and the Spinnaker Tower.
Submarine Museum
The tour takes around half an hour and the guide points out what some of the equipment can do and what it would have felt like to work on board.
Submarine Museum
HMS Alliance is the main draw at the museum, but it’s not the only submarine.
Submarine Museum
We also looked around Holland 1 which was the first submarine to be commissioned by the Royal Navy back in 1901. She was decommissioned in 1913, but sank whilst being towed to the scrapyard. Since being salvaged she is now displayed at the museum.
Submarine Museum
Also on display is the WW2 midget submarine, X24.
midget submarine, X24
In the downstairs part of the museum you can also learn about the covert missions and see a replica of the Turtle, world’s first submersible with a documented record.
The Turtle
There is also a good section devoted to the incredible role that submarines played in both WW1 and WW2 with memorabilia on display.
Submarine Museum
Admission to the Submarine Museum is included in the all attraction ticket for Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, which includes the Harbour Tours, the Mast Climbing experience and entry to the other off-site museum, the Explosion Museum of Naval Firepower. You can travel to all sites via the Waterbus Service.
HMS Alliance
We spent a good three hours exploring the Submarine Museum and you could easily make it a full day out by including the other sites.

  1. Reply


    September 12, 2017

    Wow that looks like so much fun! I’d love to go into a submarine some day!

  2. Reply

    Michelle Twin Mum

    September 12, 2017

    I’ve been twice to the Dockyard so far and haven’t made it over to Gosport yet, great to see what we have been missing. We need to arrange another trip. Mich x

  3. Reply


    September 13, 2017

    Oo wow it looks like there is so much to learn there! Submarines fascinate me 🙂

  4. Reply

    Nadine Hill

    September 13, 2017

    Fascinating to see the inside of the sub – where they lived. We have never done a day out like this – but it looks like fun.

  5. Reply

    DJT @ Thinking Thrifty

    September 13, 2017

    This looks like such a cool day out!

  6. Reply

    Erica Price

    September 13, 2017

    This museum was already on our to visit list, but I think we might need to move it up a bit. My son would love this.

  7. Reply

    Sophie's Nursery

    September 13, 2017

    This looks fascinating! It’s great how kid friendly it is too x

  8. Reply


    September 13, 2017

    What an amazing day out – my daughter would love this so many fascinating things to explore and take in!

  9. Reply

    Laura - Dear Bear and Beany

    September 13, 2017

    My uncle was in the navy and this would be so interesting to go and look round to get a feel for what life was like for him. A fab day out!

  10. Reply

    Cass Bailey

    September 13, 2017

    Oooh this would have fascinated by husband who loves a day out like this!

  11. Reply

    Helen Wills

    September 13, 2017

    Wow! It’s so impressive seeing those vessels close up! We did a sub visit in New York and the kids loved seeing how everyone lived. This looks like a fab day out.

  12. Reply

    Newcastle Family Life

    September 14, 2017

    This looks like a fascinating place to visit. I have been to the dockyards before as my ex was in the Navy based in Portsmouth, I never visited Gosport though. xx

  13. Reply

    Kate Williams

    September 14, 2017

    My goodness that submarine looks huge – I bet I would get quite claustrophobic inside it though!

  14. Reply


    September 14, 2017

    What an interesting place to visit. I have never seen anything like it. My kids would love to explore this submarine museum.

  15. Reply


    September 14, 2017

    This is so close to us, and it looks like a fantastic family day out

  16. Reply

    Musings of a tired mummy...zzz...

    September 16, 2017

    This looks like great fun, we are thinking of getting annual passes for Portsmouth next year as there is so muc we want to see and do there

  17. Reply


    September 24, 2017

    The kids seem to like it very much! But it’s not only for kids, right? I’ve never been in a Navy museum before and I’d appreciate visiting there someday. Thank you.

  18. Reply


    September 26, 2017

    This is so cool.
    I’m super claustrophobic but I think I’d try super hard to get inside one of those subs!
    I saw an aircraft carrier docked in Everett and I was in awe.

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Are we nearly there yet? is a new online blog run by me, Kara Guppy, and is named as such thanks to my daughter Eliza who always asks that very question when we are less than 5 minutes up the road heading off on our adventures. You may know me from my other family blog