HMS Opossum (S19)

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Hms opossum s19.jpg
HMS Opossum (s19)
United Kingdom
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
  • 1,610 tons standard
  • 2,030 tons full load surfaced
  • 2,410 tons full load submerged
Beam: 26.5 feet (8.1 m)
Draught: 18 feet (5.5 m)
  • 2 × Admiralty Standard Range 16 VMS diesel generators
  • 2 × 3,000 shaft horsepower (2,200 kW) electric motors
  • 2 shafts
  • 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
  • 8 × 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 3,000 shaft horsepower (2,200 kW) electric motors, each driving a 7-foot diameter (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 Cammell 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. Archived from the original on 4 June 2015. 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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