HMAS Otama

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
HMAS Otama sub.jpg
Otama in Western Port Bay in June 2011
Career (Australia)
Builder: Scotts Shipbuilding and Engineering Company
Laid down: 25 May 1973
Launched: 3 December 1975
Commissioned: 27 April 1978
Decommissioned: 15 December 2000
Motto: "Unseen We Seek"
Status: Decommissioned
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 × Admiralty Standard Range supercharged V16 diesel generators
2 × 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:
Sonar:
Atlas Elektronik Type CSU3-41 bow array
BAC Type 2007 flank array
Sperry BQG 4 Micropuffs rangefinding array
Sonartech PIPRS intercept processor
Radar:
Kelvin Hughes Type 1006
Armament: Torpedo tubes:
6 × 21-inch (53 cm) bow tubes
2 × 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
Attack Periscope Type CH74 fitted to Oberon Class Submarines

HMAS Otama (SS 72/SSG 72) was an Oberon class submarine of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). Built in Scotland, the submarine was commissioned into the RAN in 1978; the last of the class to enter service. Otama remained in service until late 2000, when she was decommissioned and sold to the Western Port Oberon Association, a community group that plan to preserve the submarine as a museum ship and build the Victorian Maritime Centre.

Otama was listed on eBay in late 2008; It gave the submarine great exposure and created a lot of interest. Although the submarine was not sold, and the intention was never to sell the submarine, several expressions of interest were made, including a relocation to Queensland, a group believed to be interested in restoring the submarine for use as a submarine for drug-smuggling. There was also a guy who wanted to relocate the submarine to a dam on his farm and shoot ducks from it. Although efforts to build the Maritime Centre have been unsuccessful to date.

In August 2013, it was announced that the Victorian Liberal State Government had officially given the go ahead for the use of land on the outer seawall of the Hastings Marina. Now that the location has been approved, the planning and permits for the Victorian Maritime Centre and the placement of the Submarine Otama can be submitted.

Design and construction[edit]

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 was approved in 1963, and the second batch (including Otama) 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] After a multi-year refit ending in 1985, Otama was upgraded to carry United States Navy Mark 48 torpedoes and UGM-84 Sub Harpoon anti-ship missiles; the last Australian Oberon to undergo the Submarine Weapon Update Program.[5][9][10] 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.[11] 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.[11]

Otama was laid down by Scotts Shipbuilding and Engineering Company at Greenock, Scotland on 25 May 1973, launched on 3 December 1975, and commissioned into the RAN on 27 April 1978.[9] The submarine was due to enter service in 1976, but faulty high-power electrical cabling had been installed in Otama and sister boat Orion; stripping out and replacing the cabling delayed each submarine's construction by two years.[12] The delay meant that the two boats could be fitted with Micropuffs rangefinding sonar during construction, and have additional electronic surveillance equipment installed.[13] Otama was the sixth and final Oberon class submarine to enter service with the RAN.[14] The boat's name comes from a North Queensland Aboriginal word meaning "dolphin"; this was a break in RAN tradition, which had used the names of explorers and pioneers for previous submarines.[15][16]

Operational history[edit]

On 8 September 1980, Otama joined five other RAN vessels to form the Australia Squadron.[17] The Squadron, which included HMA Ships Melbourne, Perth, Derwent, Stalwart, and HMAS Supply spent two months in the Indian Ocean as part of a flag-showing cruise;[17] the largest RAN deployment since World War II.

On 3 August 1987, two sailors were killed aboard Otama. At 09:00, the submarine left HMAS Platypus to test a new towed hydrophone array. Experiencing very rough seas after leaving Sydney Harbour, two sailors were sent into the fin to secure the towed array where it had been stowed. At 10:35, the submarine was prepared for diving, and she submerged four minutes later, with the two men still in the fin. Their absence was not noticed until around 11:00, and was not confirmed for at least another half hour. The coronial inquiry found that the sailors had climbed to the fin's bridge and attempted to contact the control room but were unsuccessful before being washed away and drowning. The bodies were not recovered.[18]

Decommissioning and fate[edit]

Otama paid off on 15 December 2000: problems with the introduction of the Collins-class submarines kept Otama and sister boat Onslow in service for several years beyond their planned decommissioning date.[19][20]

The submarine was sold in 2001 to the Western Port Oberon Association, a community group with the intention of preserving her as a museum ship and building the Victorian Maritime Centre in Hastings, Victoria.[21][22] The association beat 32 other tenders for the disposal of Otama, and received a $500,000 "Centenary of Federation" grant from the federal government to fund the purchase and relocation.[16][23] The grant included the $50,000 purchase price of the submarine,[23] along with the costs of towing Otama from Western Australia to Victoria, and bringing the submarine ashore once a suitable venue was built.[16] In addition to the purchase price, the grant covered $45,000 for decontamination, $95,000 to insure the vessel during transportation from Western Australia to Victoria, and $305,000 for the cost of towing.[citation needed] Otama arrived in Western Port Bay in April[citation needed] 2002, where she was to wait until the final announcement of a permanent location of for the Victorian Maritime Centre and Submarine was announced so that the project could move ahead.[22]

By late 2008, plans for three separate locations for the Victorian Maritime Centre - Hastings, Crib Point, and Stony Point - were all knocked back.[21][22] At this point, the submarine was listed for sale on eBay, as the Western Port Oberon Association could no longer afford to maintain Otama.[21][22] Although it was never intended to sell the submarine, it brought a great deal of publicity and made many more people aware of the delays and frustrations that the Western Port Oberon Association had endured, while waiting for approval of a site for the Victorian Maritime Centre.[citation needed][contradiction] The listing on eBay received several expressions of interest, including the possibility of restoring the submarine to operational condition.[21] Although claiming to be a tourism operator, Otama '​s owners believed that the enquirer wanted to use the submarine for drug smuggling, and advised the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation.[21]

In early 2010, Otama '​s interior was used to represent the interior of a Russian submarine for the short film Deeper Than Yesterday. The 20-minute film won several awards, including at the 2010 Australian Film Institute Awards, the 2010 Leeds International Film Festival, and the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.[24][25]

In August 2013, it was announced that the Victorian Liberal State Government had officially given the go ahead for the use of land on the outer seawall of the Hastings Marina. Now that the location has been approved, the planning and permits for the Victorian Maritime Centre and the placement of the Submarine Otama can be submitted.[citation needed]

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ a b 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. 394-5
  5. ^ a b Dennis et al., The Oxford Companion to Australian Military history, p. 399
  6. ^ a b c d e f Sharpe (ed.), Jane's Fighting Ships, 1996–1997, p. 23
  7. ^ a b c d Shaw, HMAS Onslow, p. 15
  8. ^ a b Shaw, HMAS Onslow, p. 21
  9. ^ a b Sharped (ed.), Jane's Fighting Ships 1992–93, p. 22
  10. ^ Owen, in Mitchell, Australian Maritime Issues 2010, p. 32
  11. ^ a b Shaw, HMAS Onslow, p. 19
  12. ^ Owen, in Mitchell, Australian Maritime Issues 2010, p. 31
  13. ^ Owen, in Mitchell, Australian Maritime Issues 2010, p. 32-3
  14. ^ Stevens, in Stevens, The Royal Australian Navy, opp. p. 32
  15. ^ Bastock, Australia's Ships of War, p. 394
  16. ^ a b c Nelson, Brendan (3 October 2001). "Australian Submarine History Lands at Hastings with $500 000 Centenary of Federation Grant" (Press release). Australian Department of Defence. Retrieved 8 October 2013. 
  17. ^ a b Lind, The Royal Australian Navy, p. 297
  18. ^ Waller, Suddenly Dead, pp. 3–10
  19. ^ Jones, in Stevens, The Royal Australian Navy, pp. 276–7
  20. ^ Yule & Woolner, The Collins Class Submarine Story, pp. 288–9
  21. ^ a b c d e Stewart, ASIO eyes mystery group after attempt to buy sub
  22. ^ a b c d Cogdon, Submarine for sale on internet auction website eBay
  23. ^ a b Silkstone, Dan (22 April 2004). "Sub group fights battle of Hastings". The Age. Retrieved 8 October 2013. 
  24. ^ Bodey, Red carpet unrolls, but Cannes gives local filmmakers short shrift
  25. ^ Tourtellotte, Sundance’s unheralded short film and grant winners

References[edit]

Books
News articles

External links[edit]