Thursday, January 19, 2006


Out of the darkness...The Oberon Class submarines resurface


Navy News

HMAS Otway in her resting place at Holbrook NSW.

The sleek darkened hulls of the Oberon class Submarines no longer lurk beneath the waves. Their distinctive red and white Omerang insignia has slipped into obscurity, silently. Some would say it’s a fitting departure for these once deadly boats. In stark contrast to the days in which this unseen force served, the boats have now been raised as monuments for all to see. Navy News takes a look at what has become of the Oberon boats.

By ABPH Kade Rogers

Holbrook was as good a town as any to eat lunch I thought, so pulled my car over, and parked opposite the first café I saw.

‘I was about half way to Sydney now’ I mused. I congratulated myself on the effort I’d made that morning waking up early to beat the rush hour traffic in Melbourne, and I decided to treat myself to a greasy meat pie.

Seeing as how I’d been making such good time, I figured that taking a break was warranted. So I took my pie and went for a walk.

Realising I’d left my car unlocked 20 or so paces ahead, I didn’t bother going back.

I was the only person in the whole of the main street. Somewhat oblivious to my surroundings in this sleepy country town, sat down at a bench on the edge of a reserve of some sort.

‘Nice day’ I thought as I looked about me for the first time.

Something caught my eye across the reserve, a familiar yet confusing shape.I concentrated on this ominous visage that lurked behind a childrens playground a few yards from where I sat.

Confused by what I thought I saw, I stood up and walked closer towards the dark looming shape.

It hit me like a tennis ball to the face - the impossible form that lay before me was completely out of place, yet it was still here.

‘A submarine?’

I thought, my mind trying to process a thousand questions at once.

I moved towards a plaque that was set into concrete… ‘HMAS Otway’ Though it was obvious to me what I was looking at, I read the plaque again, aloud this time, like I didn’t trust myself… ‘HMAS Otway’.

Along with a generous donation of $100,000 by the widow of CMDR Norman Holbrook, Otway was brought to Holbrook by local fundraising.

CMDR Norman Holbrook, (then LEUT) took submarine B-11 into the Dardenelles and torpedoed the Turkish battleship Messoudieh.

He was awarded the first naval Victoria Cross, while his crew earned the Distinguished Services Medal.

Other O Boats have also since retired in similar fashion.

The RAN gifted HMAS Onslow to the National Maritime Museum in Sydney in 1999.

She has been restored and undergoes regular maintenance to keep her in pristine condition for the hundreds of tourists who visit her every year

.On the other side of the continent at the Western Australian Maritime Museum in Fremantle, HMAS Ovens enjoys a similar fate.

In the city of Hastings near HMAS Cerberus in Victoria, plans have been put into motion to develop a Naval Memorial park, in which HMAS Otama will be the centrepiece.

This morning it is entirely possible you shaved with part of HMAS Oxley.

She was scrapped not long after her decommissioning at HMAS Stirling. Her bow was preserved and is on display at the WA Maritime Museum and her fin stands as an inspiration to future submariners out the front of the Submarine Training Systems Centre at HMAS Stirling in WA.

Presented to the state of Western Australia after her decommissioning, HMAS Orion remains tied up alongside HMAS Stirling.

Her fate remains uncertain as she awaits a final decision by the WA government.


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