HMAS Onslow underway.
Reproduced courtesy of the Australian National Maritime Museum

Class: Oberon Submarine
Launched: 3 December 1968
At: Scotts Shipbuilding, Greenock, Scotland

Length: 295 feet, 5 inches
Beam: 26 feet, 6 inches
Draft: 19 feet, surfaced
Displacement: 2,186 tons, surfaced
Propulsion: 2 shafts, two 3680 hp Admiralty Standard Range diesels, two 12,000 hp English Electric main motors.
Complement: 62
Armament: Six torpedo tubes for firing anti-ship and submarine Mark 48 torpedoes and anti-ship UGM-84 Harpoon missiles

Australian National Maritime Museum
GPO Box 5131
Sydney, NSW 2001
+61 2 9298 3777
Fax: +61 2 9298 3780
Latitude: -33.8692288738, Longitude: 151.199927214
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The Oberon class attack submarines played a vital role protecting Australia for more than 30 years, from 1967 through to 2000. Initially built to replace the British Royal Navy Fourth Submarine Division, which had provided submarine services and training for the Royal Australian Navy after World War II, the Oberons were also a response to concerns about the expansion of the Soviet Pacific Fleet. They were commissioned in the middle years of the cold war, a dangerous period of intense military competition and tension between the Communist block under the Soviet Union, and the United States and its allies.

The British-designed Oberons were a product of Britain's World War II submarine experiences, and were influenced by the concepts of the German Type XXI electro-boats. Their versatility lay in their ability to be silent and invisible - to watch, listen and collect information without being seen. Using stealth, endurance and agility, these conventionally powered diesel-electric submarines were multi-purpose and undertook many activities including secret patrols, photographic reconnaissance, surveillance, shadowing, and intelligence gathering.

In its 30-year service with the RAN, HMAS Onslow clocked up more than 358,000 nautical miles and took part in many international naval exercises, represented Australia on goodwill visits around the world and with its five sister submarines - Ovens, Orion, Otama, Oxley and Otway - provided the RAN with a formidable submarine force. HMAS Onslow's most secretive work was tracking Soviet submarines moving into the Arabian Gulf from Vladivostok via the Coral Sea and Great Australian Bight. With HMAS Ovens, Onslow kept an eye on them, undertaking close-in intelligence collection patrols.

During its major refit in 1982-84 and after successful test firings by HMAS Otway on the Pacific missile firing range in Hawaii, Onslow was fitted with sub-Harpoon missiles - becoming the first conventionally powered (non-nuclear) submarine in the world with an anti-ship missile capability.

HMAS Onslow at the museum.
Reproduced courtesy of the Australian National Maritime Museum

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