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HMAS Ovens
HMAS Ovens at the Western Australian Maritime Museum
HMAS Ovens at the Western Australian Maritime Museum
Career (Australia)
Builder: Scotts Shipbuilding and Engineering Company
Laid down: 17 June 1966
Launched: 4 December 1967
Commissioned: 18 April 1969
Decommissioned: 1 December 1995
Status: Museum ship
General characteristics
Class & type: Oberon class submarine
Displacement: 1,610 tons standard
2,030 tons surfaced
2,410 tons submerged
Length: 295.2 ft (90.0 m)
Beam: 26.5 ft (8.1 m)
Draught: 18 ft (5.5 m)
Propulsion: 2 x Admiralty Standard Range supercharged V16 diesel generators
2 x English Electric motors
3,500 bhp, 4,500 shp
2 shafts
Speed: 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph) surfaced
17 knots (31 km/h; 20 mph) submerged
11 knots (20 km/h; 13 mph) at snorkel depth
Range: 9,000 nautical miles (17,000 km; 10,000 mi) at 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph)
Test depth: 200 metres (660 ft)
Complement: As launched:
8 officers, 56 sailors
At decommissioning:
8 officers, 60 sailors
Sensors and
processing systems:
Atlas Elektronik Type CSU3-41 bow array
BAC Type 2007 flank array
Sperry BQG 4 Micropuffs rangefinding array
Kelvin Hughes Type 1006
Armament: Torpedo tubes:
6 x 21-inch (53 cm) bow tubes
2 x short-length 21-inch (53 cm) stern tubes (later removed)
1996 payload: Mix of 20:
Mark 48 Mod 4 torpedoes
UGM-84 Sub Harpoon missiles

HMAS Ovens (S 70) is an Oberon class submarine formerly of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) which is now preserved as a museum ship.

Design and construction

The Oberon class was based heavily on the preceding Porpoise class of submarines, with changes made to improve the vessels' hull integrity, sensor systems, and stealth capabilities.[1] Eight submarines were ordered for the RAN, in two batches of four.[2] The first batch (including Ovens) was approved in 1963, and the second batch was approved during the late 1960s, although two of these were cancelled before construction started in 1969, with the funding redirected to the Fleet Air Arm.[3][4] This was the fourth time the RAN had attempted to establish a submarine branch.[5]

The submarine is 295.2 feet (90.0 m) long, with a beam of 26.5 feet (8.1 m), and a draught of 18 feet (5.5 m) when surfaced.[6] At full load displacement, she displaces 2,030 tons when surfaced, and 2,410 tons when submerged.[6] The two propeller shafts are each driven by an English Electric motor providing 3,500 brake horsepower and 4,500 shaft horsepower; the electricity for these is generated by two Admiralty Standard Range supercharged V16 diesel generators.[7] The submarine could travel at up to 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph) on the surface, and up to 17 knots (31 km/h; 20 mph) when submerged, had a maximum range of 9,000 nautical miles (17,000 km; 10,000 mi) at 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph), and a test depth of 200 metres (660 ft) below sea level.[6][7] When launched, the boat had a company of 8 officers and 56 sailors, but by the time she decommissioned, the number of sailors had increased to 60.[6][7] In addition, up to 16 trainees could be carried.[7]

Original Analogue Torpedo Control Console Mk 17 Mod 6

The main armament of the Oberons consisted of six 21-inch (533.4 mm) torpedo tubes.[1] The British Mark 8 torpedo was initially carried by the submarine; this was later replaced by the wire-guided Mark 23.[8] Between 1977 and 1985,[Clarification needed] the Australian Oberons were upgraded to carry United States Navy Mark 48 torpedoes and UGM-84 Sub Harpoon anti-ship missiles.[5][9] As of 1996, the standard payload of an Australian Oberon was a mix of 20 Mark 48 Mod 4 torpedoes and Sub Harpoon missiles.[6] Some or all of the torpedo payload could be replaced by Mark 5 Stonefish sea mines, which were deployed through the torpedo tubes.[6][8] On entering service, two stern-mounted, short-length 21-inch (53 cm) torpedo tubes for Mark 20 anti-submarine torpedoes.[10] However, the development of steerable wire-guided torpedoes made the less-capable aft-firing torpedoes redundant; they were closed off, and later removed during a refit.[10]

Ovens was laid down by Scotts Shipbuilding and Engineering Company at Greenock, Scotland on 17 June 1966, launched on 4 December 1967, and commissioned into the RAN on 18 April 1969.[9]

Operational history

In 1970, Ovens visited ports in New Zealand.[11] The submarine visited New Zealand again during late August and early September 1971, and was used to train Royal New Zealand Navy vessels in anti-submarine warfare.[11]

In January 1972, Ovens was deployed to South East Asia to serve with the ANZUK force: the first RAN submarine to do so.[11] During the deployment, which lasted until June, the boat participated in SEATO Exercise Sea Hawk.[11] On 3 August, the submarine encountered the launch Sea Witch, abandoned and adrift, about 50 miles (80 km) off Newcastle, New South Wales.[11]

Ovens became the first RAN submarine to fire an armed Mark 48 torpedo, when she sank the decommissioned Bathurst-class corvette HMAS Colac on 4 March 1987.[12][13] On her return to port, Ovens flew a 'Jolly Roger' to indicate a successful mission: the first time a RAN submarine had done so.[12]

The submarine made a port visit to Geelong, Victoria in June 1995; as of 2013, she was the last naval vessel to visit the city.[14]

Decommissioning and fate

View of Ovens in dry-dock, as seen from the harbour

Ovens paid off on 1 December 1995.[citation needed] She is preserved as a museum ship at the Western Australian Maritime Museum in Fremantle, Western Australia.[5]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Chant, A Compedium of Armaments and Military Hardware, pp. 167–8
  2. Cooper, in Stevens, The Royal Australian Navy, p. 188
  3. Cooper, in Stevens, The Royal Australian Navy, p. 194
  4. Bastock, Australia's Ships of War, p. 366
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Dennis et al., The Oxford Companion to Australian Military history, p. 399
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 Sharpe (ed.), Jane's Fighting Ships, 1996–1997, p. 23
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Shaw, HMAS Onslow, p. 15
  8. 8.0 8.1 Shaw, HMAS Onslow, p. 21
  9. 9.0 9.1 Sharped (ed.), Jane's Fighting Ships 1992–93, p. 22
  10. 10.0 10.1 Shaw, HMAS Onslow, p. 19
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 Bastock, Australia's Ships of War, p. 369
  12. 12.0 12.1 Richards, Bill; Smith, Peter (December 2006). "Onslow's Jolly Roger". Australian National Maritime Museum. pp. 10–12. ISSN 1033-4688. 
  13. "HMAS Colac". HMA Ship Histories. Sea Power Centre – Royal Australian Navy. Archived from the original on 5 February 2009. Retrieved 19 September 2009. 
  14. Begg, Peter (11 April 2013). "Naval gazing adds pier pressure". Geelong Advertiser. Retrieved 12 April 2013. 


External links

Coordinates: 32°03′19″S 115°44′19″E / 32.05526°S 115.73868°E / -32.05526; 115.73868

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