HMAS Onslow - (SS-60)

International Callsign: Victor-Kilo-Lima-Foxtrot

HMAS Onslow (SS 60/SSG 60) was one of six Oberon-class submarines operated by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). The submarine was named after the town of Onslow, Western Australia, and Sir Alexander Onslow, with the boat's motto and badge derived from Onslow's family heritage. Ordered in 1963, Onslow was laid down at the end of 1967 by Scotts Shipbuilding and Engineering Company in Scotland, launched almost a year later, and commissioned into the RAN at the end of 1968.

Although never involved in war, three major incidents occurred during Onslow's career. The first occurred in 1972, when a disgruntled sailor who disobeyed orders caused the submarine to dive to almost twice her safe operating depth. As a result, the RAN changed the Submarine Service from being able to "conscript" any sailor for submarine service to volunteer only. The second happened in 1981, when carbon monoxide fumes from one of the diesel generators filled the submarine, resulting in the death of one sailor.[4] Although changes were made to submarine operating procedures, the boat's company was not provided with any psychological counselling, and the incident report remained classified until 2009. The third was a controversial line-crossing ceremony in 1995, which resulted in restrictions being placed on similar ceremonies aboard RAN vessels. During her career, Onslow became the first conventionally powered submarine to be fitted with anti-ship missiles, and was successful in wargames: "sinking" a seven-ship flotilla during Exercise Kangaroo 3 in 1980, and the United States supercarrier USS Carl Vinson at RIMPAC 1998.

Onslow was decommissioned on 30 March 1999, and was presented to the Australian National Maritime Museum, where she is preserved as a museum ship.

While in service, Onslow travelled 358,068 nautical miles (663,142 km; 412,057 mi). On the same day, sister boat Otama was permanently reassigned to the submarine base at HMAS Stirling in Western Australia, clearing the way for the closure of HMAS Platypus.

The submarine was gifted to the Australian National Maritime Museum in April 1999. On 3 May 1999, the submarine was towed from Platypus to the museum at Darling Harbour. Onslow was docked next to HMAS Vampire, another warship belonging to the museum, and was officially opened to the public on 1 June 1999. Onslow is the second RAN submarine to be preserved as a museum ship; the first was sister submarine HMAS Ovens, which was decommissioned at the end of 1998 and installed at the Western Australian Maritime Museum. As of 2004, she is one of seven Oberon-class submarines preserved in this manner.

On 22 November 2002, Onslow was taken by tugs to Garden Island for three weeks of maintenance in drydock. This included cleaning and repainting of the hull, replacement of the tributyltin coating used to prevent biofouling with a coating that was not harmful to marine organisms, and the sealing of several ballast tanks to improve the boat's stability and raise the aft section relative to the waterline. Onslow was returned to the museum on 11 December, and re-opened to the public three days later. In October and November 2008, Onslow returned to Garden Island for maintenance and upkeep. During this refit, an additional torpedo was loaded into the submarine's torpedo tubes and her hull was cleaned and painted. Another docking occurred on 18 May 2012, with hull cleaning, rust removal, repainting, and repairs to the boat's aft torpedo tubes done before she returned to display on 6 June.


Museum info: National Maritime Museum
Address: 2 Murray Street, Darling Harbour, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
Phone: +61292983777
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