HMAS Oxley (foreground) and Otway
|Laid down:||March 1925|
|Launched:||30 June 1926|
|Completed:||22 July 1927|
|Commissioned:||1 April 1927|
|Decommissioned:||10 May 1930 (into reserve)
9 April 1931 (paid off in full)
|Motto:||"Patience and Strength"|
|Fate:||Transferred to RN|
|Career (United Kingdom)|
|Commissioned:||10 April 1931|
|Fate:||Torpedoed by HMS Triton, 10 September 1939|
|Class & type:||Odin-class submarine|
|Displacement:||1,350 long tons (1,370 t) (surfaced)
1,870 long tons (1,900 t) (submerged)
|Length:||275 ft (83.8 m) length overall|
|Beam:||29 ft 7 in (9.02 m)|
|Draught:||13 ft 3 in (4.04 m) mean|
|Propulsion:||Diesel motors for surface running and electricity generation, electric motors when submerged|
|Speed:||15.5 knots (28.7 km/h; 17.8 mph) surfaced
9 knots (17 km/h; 10 mph) submerged
|Armament:||1 x 4-inch (102 mm) gun, 8 x 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes (6 bow tubes, 2 stern tubes), 2 x machine guns|
Design and construction
The Odin-class submarines were built to a slightly modified design for Australian service. They were 275 feet (84 m) in length overall, with a beam of 29 feet 7 inches (9.02 m), and a mean draught of 13 feet 3 inches (4.04 m). Displacement was 1,350 tons when surfaced, and 1,870 tons when submerged. The boats had diesel motors for surface running and electricity generation, but when underwater ran off electric motors. They had two propeller shafts. Maximum speed was 15.5 knots (28.7 km/h; 17.8 mph) on the surface, and 9 knots (17 km/h; 10 mph) when dived. Oxley had a boat's company of 54. Armament consisted of eight 21-inch (530 mm) torpedo tubes (six facing forward, two facing aft), one 4-inch (100 mm) deck gun, and two machine guns.
Oxley was laid down by Vickers-Armstrong Limited at Barrow-in-Furness, England in March 1925, under the designation OA1. She was launched on 29 June 1926, completed on 22 July 1927, and commissioned into the RAN on 1 April 1927. The submarine was named after explorer John Oxley.
After commissioning, Oxley and Otway were temporarily assigned to the Royal Navy's 5th Submarine Flotilla. On 8 February 1928, the two submarines set out for Australia in the longest unescorted voyage undertaken by a British submarine. The submarines were diverted to Malta after cracks were found on Otway's engine columns. On arrival in Malta, similar fractures were found in Oxley's engine columns, and the two boats were detained while improved columns were fabricated and installed. They resumed their voyage in November, and reached Sydney on 14 February 1929. Because of the deteriorating financial conditions leading into the Great Depression, the two submarines were placed into reserve a year later; Oxley was paid off into Reserve on 10 May 1930. Oxley underwent diving exercises every second week until 9 April 1931, when the submarine was paid off in full prior to transfer to the RN.
The ongoing cost of maintaining the boats, coupled with the tonnage limits imposed by the London Naval Treaty prompted the Australian government to offer Oxley and Otway to the Royal Navy. The submarines were transferred and commissioned on 10 April 1931.
On 29 April, Oxley and Otway (which had also been recommissioned into the RN) left Sydney for Malta. During 1939, the submarine was based at Portsmouth as part of the 5th Submarine Flotilla. Following the outbreak of the Second World War, Oxley was assigned to patrol duties off the coast of Norway. She was assigned the pennant number 55.
On 10 September 1939, Triton was also patrolling in the area. The two submarines had been in regular contact, and when Triton spotted an unidentified submarine in the area, it was initially assumed that this was Oxley. Recognition codes sent by signal light to the unknown boat were not responded to, causing Triton's commander to assume that she was an enemy submarine and fire two torpedoes. Oxley was the submarine; both torpedoes hit and sank her with only two survivors, who were recovered by Triton. A Board of Enquiry found that Oxley was some way out of position and that Triton had acted correctly and was not culpable for the sinking. Oxley was the first British submarine lost during World War II.
- Bastock, Australia's Ships of War, p. 110
- Bastock, Australia's Ships of War, p. 112
- "HMAS Oxley (I)". HMA Ship Histories. Sea Power Centre - Royal Australian Navy. Retrieved 20 December 2008.
- "NMM, vessel ID 327625". Warship Histories, vol iii. National Maritime Museum. Retrieved 15 August 2011.
- Bastock, John (1975). Australia's Ships of War. Cremorne, NSW: Angus and Robertson. ISBN 0207129274. OCLC 2525523.
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