HMS Onyx (S21)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For other ships of the same name, see HMS Onyx.
Career (UK)
Name: HMS Onyx
Builder: Cammell Laird, Birkenhead
Launched: August 1966
Commissioned: September 1967
Decommissioned: 1991
Motto: Taurus excreta cerebrum vincit
(Dog Latin: "Bullshit Baffles Brains")
Fate: Scrapped May 2014
General characteristics
Class and type: Oberon-class submarine
Displacement: 1,610 tons surfaced
2,410 tons submerged
Length: 88.5 m (290 ft 4 in)
Propulsion: Diesel/Electric, 2 shafts
Speed: 17 knots (31 km/h) submerged
Complement: 62
Armament: 8 × 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes (6 bow, 2 stern)

HMS Onyx was an Oberon class submarine of the Royal Navy. Originally ordered for the Royal Canadian Navy, Onyx was transferred to the Royal Navy whilst under construction at Cammell Laird shipbuilders in Birkenhead, England. She was launched on August 1966 and commissioned into the Royal Navy in September 1967.

The first commission of the Onyx saw her visit Swansea in South Wales for the investiture of His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales. She also attended the bicentennial celebrations of the United States of America in 1976.

The submarine's motto, "Taurus excreta cerebrum vincit," is correctly translated as "Bullshit conquers brains".

Falklands War[edit]

HMS Onyx was the only non-nuclear submarine of the Royal Navy to take part in the Falklands War. The smaller displacement of Onyx compared to the nuclear submarines made her ideal for landing SBS marines ashore on the islands in shallow waters.[1] During one of these missions, Onyx hit an uncharted pinnacle while submerged at 150 feet and suffered minor damage to its bow. [2] [3] Contrary to some reports,[4] after the British cancelled Operation Mikado, there was never a plan to use Onyx to land the SAS in order to destroy Argentina's remaining stockpile of Exocet missiles. Prior to the submarine being damaged the SBS had been embarked to attack a mainland airfield but this operation, too, was cancelled. [5]

HMS Onyx sank the hulk of the landing ship Sir Galahad after she was damaged beyond repair during an air strike at Fitzroy.

Decommissioning and preservation attempts[edit]

HMS Onyx and other ships at Birkenhead in 2005

Defence cuts in the UK saw the Royal Navy dispense with its diesel-powered submarines to concentrate on nuclear attack submarines. In 1991, the Onyx was decommissioned from the navy. She was then cared for by the Warship Preservation Trust and was on public display alongside several other ships in Birkenhead, UK.

In May 2006 HMS Onyx was sold to the Barrow-in-Furness businessman Joe Mullen, for a reported £100,000 as a 'gift to the people of Barrow'. She left Birkenhead on 13 June 2006[6] to form the centrepiece of The Submarine Heritage Centre, a new heritage museum in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, as a celebration to the town's illustrious Submarine-building history.

After the submarine museum went into debt she was taken by an unknown liquidation company as a financial asset, to be broken up for scrap. A small party from HMS Exploit gave her a send off recognizing her contribution to the Navy and country in the cold war and Falklands conflict. On 30 April 2014 she was sailed from Barrow in tow for the Clyde and has since berthed at Rosneath amid continued uncertainty as to whether at least part of Onyx might be preserved.[7][8] Onyx was alongside Rosneath Jetty on the Gare Loch, Scotland on 18 July 2014.

Commanding Officers[edit]

From To Captain
1977 1977
1978 1979 Lieutenant Commander G B D Lane RN


  1. ^ Bonds, Ray and Miller, David (2003). llustrated Directory of Special Forces. Zenith Imprint, p. 109. ISBN 0-7603-1419-5
  2. ^ Ewen Southby-Tailyour, Exocet Falklands
  3. ^ Ships monthly, Volume 28. Waterway Productions Ltd., 1993
  4. ^ "SAS 'suicide mission' to wipe out Exocets". The Telegraph. 2002-03-08. Retrieved 2011-12-16. 
  5. ^ Ewen Southby-Tailyour, Exocet Falklands
  6. ^ Photo: HMS Onyx leaves Birkenhead, retrieved 12 August 2007 
  7. ^ "Remains of submarine in Barrow dock set to be scrapped". North West Evening Mail (Barrow-in-Furness). 23 April 2014. Retrieved 2 May 2014. 
  8. ^ "Falklands veteran sub leaves Barrow and embarks on her final voyage". North West Evening Mail (Barrow-in-Furness). 1 May 2014. Retrieved 2 May 2014. 

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 54°06′43″N 3°14′24″W / 54.112°N 3.240°W / 54.112; -3.240