HMS Onyx (S21)

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For other ships of the same name, see HMS Onyx.
History
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Onyx
Builder: Cammell Laird, Birkenhead
Laid down: 16 November 1964
Launched: 18 August 1966
Commissioned: 20 November 1967
Decommissioned: 1991
Motto:
  • Taurus excreta cerebrum vincit
  • (Dog Latin: "Bullshit Baffles Brains")
Fate: Scrapped May 2014
General characteristics as designed
Class & type: Oberon class
Displacement:
  • 1,610 tons standard
  • 2,030 tons full load surfaced
  • 2,410 tons full load submerged
Length:
Beam: 26.5 feet (8.1 m)
Draught: 18 feet (5.5 m)
Propulsion:
  • 2 × Admiralty Standard Range 16 VMS diesel generators
  • 2 × 6,000 shaft horsepower (4,500 kW) electric motors
  • 2 shafts
Speed:
  • 17 knots (31 km/h; 20 mph) submerged
  • 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph) surfaced
Complement: 68 (6 officers, 62 enlisted)
Sensors and
processing systems:
  • Type 186 and Type 187 sonars
  • I-band surface search radar
Armament:
  • 8 × 21-inch (530 mm) torpedo tubes (6 forward, 2 aft)
  • 24 torpedoes

HMS Onyx was an Oberon class submarine of the Royal Navy.

Design and construction[edit]

The Oberon class was a direct follow on of the Porpoise-class, with the same dimensions and external design, but updates to equipment and internal fittings, and a higher grade of steel used for fabrication of the pressure hull.[1]

As designed for British service, the Oberon-class submarines were 241 feet (73 m) in length between perpendiculars and 295.2 feet (90.0 m) in length overall, with a beam of 26.5 feet (8.1 m), and a draught of 18 feet (5.5 m).[2] Displacement was 1,610 tons standard, 2,030 tons full load when surfaced, and 2,410 tons full load when submerged.[2] Propulsion machinery consisted of 2 Admiralty Standard Range 16 VMS diesel generators, and two 6,000 shaft horsepower (4,500 kW) electric motors, each driving a 7 feet (2.1 m) 3-bladed propeller at up to 400 rpm.[2] Top speed was 17 knots (31 km/h; 20 mph) when submerged, and 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph) on the surface.[2] Eight 21-inch (530 mm) diameter torpedo tubes were fitted (six facing forward, two aft), with a total payload of 24 torpedoes.[2] The boats were fitted with Type 186 and Type 187 sonars, and an I-band surface search radar.[2] The standard complement was 68: 6 officers, 62 sailors.[2]

Onyx was laid down by Cammel Laird on 16 November 1964, and launched on 18 August 1966.[2] The boat was commissioned into the Royal Navy on 20 November 1967.[2] Onyx was ordered after a previous Oberon-class submarine of the same name (laid down by Chatham Dockyard in 1962) was transferred to the Royal Canadian Navy as HMCS Ojibwa before launching in February 1964.[2] The submarine's motto, "Taurus excreta cerebrum vincit," is correctly translated as "Bullshit conquers brains".

Operational history[edit]

The first commission of 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.

Falklands War[edit]

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.[3] During one of these missions, Onyx hit an uncharted pinnacle while submerged at 150 feet (46 m) and suffered minor damage to its bow.[4][5] Contrary to some reports,[6] 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.[7]

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, 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, 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[8] 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.[9][10] Onyx was alongside Rosneath Jetty on the Gare Loch, Scotland on 18 July 2014. She has since been scrapped. [11]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Chant, Christopher (2005). Submarine Warfare Today: The World's Deadliest Underwater Weapons Systems. Wigston: Silverdale Books. p. [page needed]. ISBN 1-84509-158-2. OCLC 156749009. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Moore, John, ed. (1977). Jane's Fighting Ships 1977-78. Jane's Fighting Ships (80th ed.). London: Jane's Yearbooks. p. 490. ISBN 0531032779. OCLC 18207174. 
  3. ^ Bonds, Ray and Miller, David (2003). llustrated Directory of Special Forces. Zenith Imprint, p. 109. ISBN 0-7603-1419-5
  4. ^ Ewen Southby-Tailyour, Exocet Falklands
  5. ^ Ships Monthly, Volume 28. Waterway Productions Ltd., 1993
  6. ^ "SAS 'suicide mission' to wipe out Exocets". The Telegraph. 2002-03-08. Retrieved 2011-12-16. 
  7. ^ Ewen Southby-Tailyour, Exocet Falklands
  8. ^ Photo: HMS Onyx leaves Birkenhead, retrieved 12 August 2007 
  9. ^ "Remains of submarine in Barrow dock set to be scrapped". North West Evening Mail (Barrow-in-Furness). 23 April 2014. Retrieved 2 May 2014. 
  10. ^ "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. 
  11. ^ http://www.drbmarine.co.uk/hms-onyx.html

External links[edit]


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