HMS Opossum (S19)

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For other ships of the same name, see HMS Opossum.
HMS Opossum returning to RN submarine base HMS Dolphin, Gosport, following combat operations in the Gulf War (1990–91)
Career (UK)
Name: HMS Opossum
Builder: Cammell Laird, Birkenhead
Laid down: 21 December 1961
Launched: 23 May 1963
Commissioned: 5 June 1964
Decommissioned: August 1993
Fate: Paid off for disposal
General characteristics as designed
Class and type: Oberon class
Displacement: 1,610 tons standard
2,030 tons full load surfaced
2,410 tons full load submerged
Length: 241 feet (73 m) between perpendiculars
295.2 feet (90.0 m) length overall
Beam: 26.5 feet (8.1 m)
Draught: 18 feet (5.5 m)
Propulsion: 2 x Admiralty Standard Range 16 VMS diesel generators
2 x 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 x 21-inch (530 mm) torpedo tubes (6 forward, 2 aft)
24 torpedoes

HMS Opossum (S19) was an Oberon-class submarine in service with the Royal Navy from 1964 to 1993.

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]

Opossum was laid down by Cammel Laird on 21 December 1961, and launched on 23 May 1963.[2] The boat was commissioned into the Royal Navy on 5 June 1964.[2]

Operational history[edit]

In 1990, Opossum took part in the bicentennial celebrations at Pitcairn Island, marking the occasion with a two-day visit in September.[3]

Opossum was deployed to the Persian Gulf during the 1991 Gulf War under Operation Granby.[4] On her return to Gosport, she was flying a Jolly Roger;[5] the only indication that the submarine had been involved in deploying and recovering Special Air Service and Special Boat Service personnel.[6][7]

On 14 July 1993, Opossum (which was travelling on the surface at the time) collided with the fishing vessel Amber Rose off the coast of Scotland.[8]

Decommissioning and fate[edit]

On paying off in 1993, the nameplate from Opossum was given to St Edmundsbury council in commemoration of the submarine's association with the town of Bury St. Edmunds.[9]


  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 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. ^ "Bicentenary Celebrations". Pitcairn Islands Philatelic Bureau. 2004. Retrieved 31 January 2015. 
  4. ^ "British Forces involved in Operation Granby". 2015. Retrieved 31 January 2015. 
  5. ^ Hillbeck, Ian W. (2015). "Submarine Camouflage Schemes". Submariners Association, Barrow-in-Furness Branch. Retrieved 31 January 2015. 
  6. ^ Richards, Bill; Smith, Peter (December 2006). "Onslow's Jolly Roger". Signals (Australian National Maritime Museum) (77): 11. ISSN 1033-4688. 
  7. ^ Oliver, Sarah (2 April 2011). "Return of the Triumph: With the skull and crossbones flying defiantly at its mast, submarine that launched attack on Gaddafi comes home". Daily Mail Online. Retrieved 16 January 2014. 
  8. ^ Jeremy HanleyMinister of State for the Armed Forces (18 January 1994). "Submarines (Fishing Vessels)". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). United Kingdom: House of Commons. col. 506. 
  9. ^ Nicholas Soames, Minister of State for the Armed Forces (27 October 1994). "Appropriation Accounts". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). United Kingdom: House of Commons. col. 739–740. 


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