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Oberon class submarine

Oberon class submarine

Overview

The Oberon class was a 27-boat class of British-built diesel-electric submarine
Submarine
A submarine is a watercraft capable of independent operation below the surface of the water. It differs from a submersible, which has more limited underwater capability...

s based on the successful British Porpoise-class
British Porpoise class submarine
The Porpoise class was an eight-boat class of diesel-electric submarines operated by the Royal Navy. This class was originally designated patrol submarines, then attack. They were the first conventional British submarines to be built after the end of World War II...

 submarine.

Thirteen were constructed for the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

, while another fourteen were built and exported to other countries' navies: six to the Royal Australian Navy
Royal Australian Navy
The Royal Australian Navy is the naval branch of the Australian Defence Force. Following the Federation of Australia in 1901, the ships and resources of the separate colonial navies were integrated into a national force: the Commonwealth Naval Forces...

, three to the Royal Canadian Navy
Royal Canadian Navy
The history of the Royal Canadian Navy goes back to 1910, when the naval force was created as the Naval Service of Canada and renamed a year later by King George V. The Royal Canadian Navy is one of the three environmental commands of the Canadian Forces...

 with an additional two British submarines later transferred, three to the Brazilian Navy
Brazilian Navy
The Brazilian Navy is a branch of the Brazilian Armed Forces responsible for conducting naval operations. It is the largest navy in Latin America...

, and two to the Chilean Navy
Chilean Navy
-Independence Wars of Chile and Peru :The Chilean Navy dates back to 1817. A year before, following the Battle of Chacabuco, General Bernardo O'Higgins prophetically declared "this victory and another hundred shall be of no significance if we do not gain control of the sea".This led to the...

.

As of 2006, at least fourteen Oberons are confirmed to have survived in some form: Seven as museum boats or tourist attractions, two preserved in partial form as monuments, while five are to be converted into museum boats, or are otherwise awaiting disposal.

The Oberon class was based heavily on the preceding Porpoise class
British Porpoise class submarine
The Porpoise class was an eight-boat class of diesel-electric submarines operated by the Royal Navy. This class was originally designated patrol submarines, then attack. They were the first conventional British submarines to be built after the end of World War II...

 of submarines, which were in service from 1956 to 1988.
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Encyclopedia

The Oberon class was a 27-boat class of British-built diesel-electric submarine
Submarine
A submarine is a watercraft capable of independent operation below the surface of the water. It differs from a submersible, which has more limited underwater capability...

s based on the successful British Porpoise-class
British Porpoise class submarine
The Porpoise class was an eight-boat class of diesel-electric submarines operated by the Royal Navy. This class was originally designated patrol submarines, then attack. They were the first conventional British submarines to be built after the end of World War II...

 submarine.

Thirteen were constructed for the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

, while another fourteen were built and exported to other countries' navies: six to the Royal Australian Navy
Royal Australian Navy
The Royal Australian Navy is the naval branch of the Australian Defence Force. Following the Federation of Australia in 1901, the ships and resources of the separate colonial navies were integrated into a national force: the Commonwealth Naval Forces...

, three to the Royal Canadian Navy
Royal Canadian Navy
The history of the Royal Canadian Navy goes back to 1910, when the naval force was created as the Naval Service of Canada and renamed a year later by King George V. The Royal Canadian Navy is one of the three environmental commands of the Canadian Forces...

 with an additional two British submarines later transferred, three to the Brazilian Navy
Brazilian Navy
The Brazilian Navy is a branch of the Brazilian Armed Forces responsible for conducting naval operations. It is the largest navy in Latin America...

, and two to the Chilean Navy
Chilean Navy
-Independence Wars of Chile and Peru :The Chilean Navy dates back to 1817. A year before, following the Battle of Chacabuco, General Bernardo O'Higgins prophetically declared "this victory and another hundred shall be of no significance if we do not gain control of the sea".This led to the...

.

As of 2006, at least fourteen Oberons are confirmed to have survived in some form: Seven as museum boats or tourist attractions, two preserved in partial form as monuments, while five are to be converted into museum boats, or are otherwise awaiting disposal.

Design and construction


The Oberon class was based heavily on the preceding Porpoise class
British Porpoise class submarine
The Porpoise class was an eight-boat class of diesel-electric submarines operated by the Royal Navy. This class was originally designated patrol submarines, then attack. They were the first conventional British submarines to be built after the end of World War II...

 of submarines, which were in service from 1956 to 1988. The 295.2 feet (90 m) long Oberons were armed with eight 21 inches (533.4 mm) torpedo tubes: six tubes in the bow, and two short tubes for anti-submarine defence in the stern. The submarine normally carried a payload of 20 torpedoes for the forward tubes; a mix of Mark 24 Tigerfish
Mark 24 Tigerfish
The Mk 24 Tigerfish torpedo was a heavyweight acoustic homing torpedo used by the Royal Navy for several years. The early Mod0 and Mod1 variants were unreliable and unsuccessful, and were issued to the RN even though they failed Fleet Weapon Acceptance...

 and Mark 8 torpedoes, while only the two pre-loaded torpedoes were carried for the stern tubes. Naval mine
Naval mine
A naval mine is a self-contained explosive device placed in water to destroy surface ships or submarines. Unlike depth charges, mines are deposited and left to wait until they are triggered by the approach of, or contact with, an enemy vessel...

s could be carried instead of torpedoes: the torpedo payload would be replaced with up to 50 Mark 5 Stonefish
Stonefish (mine)
Named after a venomous fish, the Stonefish influence mine is manufactured by a British company . Originally, the weapon was supplied to the Royal Navy, but it has also been exported to friendly countries such as Australia, which has both warstock and training versions of Stonefish.Stonefish mines...

 or Mark 6 Sea Urchin mines.

Changes from the Porpoise design were primarily to improve the strength and stealth of the submarine. Instead of UXW steel, the hull was built from QT28 steel, which was easier to fabricate and stronger, allowing the submarine to dive deeper. Glass-reinforced plastic
Glass-reinforced plastic
Fiberglass , is a fiber reinforced polymer made of a plastic matrix reinforced by fine fibers of glass. It is also known as GFK ....

 was used in construction of the casing.

Electronics, sonar, and radar systems were also upgraded to the latest standard. The submarines were equipped with a Type 1002 surface search and navigation radar, a Type 187 Active-Passive attack sonar, and a Type 2007 long range passive sonar.

The Oberons were constructed at a variety of shipyards in the United Kingdom: the six Australian and two Chilean submarines by Scotts Shipbuilding and Engineering Company
Scotts Shipbuilding and Engineering Company
Scotts Shipbuilding and Engineering Company Limited, often referred to simply as Scotts, was a Scottish shipbuilding company based in Greenock on the River Clyde.- History :...

 (the latter were built after the Scott Lithgow
Scott Lithgow
-History:The Company was formed in 1967 by the merger of Scotts Shipbuilding and Engineering Company and Lithgows. Scott Lithgow was based in Port Glasgow and Greenock on the lower Clyde in Scotland. Scott Lithgow was nationalised and subsumed into British Shipbuilders in 1977...

 merger); the three Brazilian submarines by Vickers-Armstrongs; and the three Canadian submarines at Chatham Dockyard
Chatham Dockyard
Chatham Dockyard, located on the River Medway and of which two-thirds is in Gillingham and one third in Chatham, Kent, England, came into existence at the time when, following the Reformation, relations with the Catholic countries of Europe had worsened, leading to a requirement for additional...

. Construction of the British submarines was shared amongst four dockyards: the three mentioned above and Cammell Laird
Cammell Laird
Cammell Laird, one of the most famous names in British shipbuilding during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, came about following the merger of Laird, Son & Co. of Birkenhead and Johnson Cammell & Co. of Sheffield at the turn of the twentieth century.- Founding of the business :The Company...

.

Regional variations


Australia
The Royal Australia Navy acquired six Oberons: an initial order of four and a second order of two. The second order was originally for four submarines, but two were cancelled in favour of expanding the RAN Fleet Air Arm
Fleet Air Arm (RAN)
The Fleet Air Arm , known formally as the Australian Navy Aviation Group, is the division of the Royal Australian Navy responsible for the operation of aircraft. The FAA was founded in 1947 following the purchase of two aircraft carriers from the Royal Navy...

.
Australian Oberons had different electronic equipment, using primarily American radar and sonar systems. They had Sperry Micropuffs passive ranging sonar and Krupp CSU3-41 attack sonar. Instead of the British Tigerfish torpedoes, the Australians used American Mark 48 torpedo
Mark 48 torpedo
The Mark 48 and its improved ADCAP variant are heavyweight submarine-launched torpedoes. They were designed to sink fast, deep-diving nuclear-powered submarines and high-performance surface ships.-History:...

es. They had a slightly larger payload, carrying 22 torpedoes for the forward tubes, six of which were pre-loaded. Shortly after entering service, the aft torpedo tubes in all six submarines were sealed.
The Australian submarines were later updated to be equipped with the subsonic anti-ship Harpoon missile
Boeing Harpoon
The Harpoon is an all-weather, over-the-horizon, anti-ship missile system, developed and manufactured by McDonnell Douglas . In 2004, Boeing delivered the 7,000th Harpoon unit since the weapon's introduction in 1977...

. In 1985, off the island of Kauai
Kauai
Kauai or Kauai, known as Tauai in the ancient Kaua'i dialect, is geologically the oldest of the main Hawaiian Islands. With an area of , it is the fourth largest of the main islands in the Hawaiian archipelago, and the 21st largest island in the United States. Known also as the "Garden Isle",...

 in Hawaii
Hawaii
Hawaii is the newest of the 50 U.S. states , and is the only U.S. state made up entirely of islands. It is the northernmost island group in Polynesia, occupying most of an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean, southwest of the continental United States, southeast of Japan, and northeast of...

, HMAS Ovens became only the second conventional submarine in the world—and the first Oberon—to fire a sub-surface-launched Harpoon missile, successfully hitting the target over the horizon. Consequently, the designation for the Australian Oberons changed from SS to SSG.


Brazil
The main differences between the Brazilian and British Oberons was the fire control systems used; with a Vickers system used. The three Brazilian submarines were later upgraded to use the more advanced Mod 1 Tigerfish torpedo.


Canada
The three Canadian submarines were built with improved air-conditioning systems, while as many common components as possible were replaced with Canadian equivalents. The Canadian Oberons used United States Navy torpedoes throughout their career: they were initially equipped with Mark 37 torpedo
Mark 37 torpedo
The Mark 37 torpedo is a torpedo with electrical propulsion, developed for the US Navy after World War II. It entered service with the US Navy in the early 1950s, with over 3,300 produced. It was phased out of service with the US Navy during the 1970s, and the stockpiles were sold to foreign...

, but were later upgraded for Mark 48 torpedoes.


Chile
Chilean submarines were identical to their British counterparts except for carrying German SUT torpedoes.

Service


The first of the class to be commissioned into the Royal Navy was Orpheus in 1960, followed by the name vessel in 1961. The last to be commissioned was Onyx in 1967. Six were commissioned between 1967 and 1978 for the RAN. In 1982, took part in the Falklands War
Falklands War
The Falklands War , also called the Falklands Conflict or Falklands Crisis, was fought in 1982 between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the disputed Falkland Islands and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands...

, the only conventional submarine of the RN to do so, landing members of the SBS
Special Boat Service
The Special Boat Service is the special forces unit of the British Royal Navy. Together with the Special Air Service, Special Reconnaissance Regiment and the Special Forces Support Group they form the United Kingdom Special Forces and come under joint control of the same Director Special...

. All Oberons in service, including boats exported, have now been decommissioned; the last RN boats were decommissioned in 1993, with the final Canadian and Australian Oberons decommissioned in 2000.
Like the Porpoises, the Oberons were far quieter than their American counterparts. They performed remarkably well in clandestine operations, performing surveillance and inserting special forces, vital during their heyday in the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

. These operations were primarily carried out by the British across Arctic Europe; the Canadians across the North Atlantic; and the Australians throughout south-east Asia and as far north as the Sea of Japan
Sea of Japan
The Sea of Japan is a marginal sea of the western Pacific Ocean, between the Asian mainland, the Japanese archipelago and Sakhalin. It is bordered by Japan, North Korea, Russia and South Korea. Like the Mediterranean Sea, it has almost no tides due to its nearly complete enclosure from the Pacific...

.

The Oberon class was arguably the best conventional submarine class of its time, with an astonishing reputation for quietness that allowed it to exist into the 21st century until replaced by newer classes such as the Collins
Collins class submarine
The Collins class is a class of six Australian-built diesel-electric submarines operated by the Royal Australian Navy . The Collins class takes its name from Australian Vice Admiral John Augustine Collins; all six submarines are named after significant RAN personnel who distinguished themselves in...

 and Victoria classes in Australia and Canada respectively.

Fates



As of 2006, at least fourteen Oberons are confirmed to have survived in some form. Seven have been preserved and converted into museum vessels
Museum ship
A museum ship, or sometimes memorial ship, is a ship that has been preserved and converted into a museum open to the public, for educational or memorial purposes...

 or tourist attractions. Two have been partially preserved as monuments, while another five are awaiting conversion for museum work, or are otherwise awaiting disposal.

Two of the ex-Royal Navy submarines have been preserved in the UK. HMS Onyx has now moved to Barrow-in-Furness
Barrow-in-Furness
Barrow-in-Furness is an industrial town and seaport which forms about half the territory of the wider Borough of Barrow-in-Furness in the county of Cumbria, England. It lies north of Liverpool, northwest of Manchester and southwest from the county town of Carlisle...

 after the museum at Birkenhead
Birkenhead
Birkenhead is a town within the Metropolitan Borough of Wirral in Merseyside, England. It is on the Wirral Peninsula, along the west bank of the River Mersey, opposite the city of Liverpool...

, Merseyside
Merseyside
Merseyside is a metropolitan county in North West England, with a population of 1,365,900. It encompasses the metropolitan area centred on both banks of the lower reaches of the Mersey Estuary, and comprises five metropolitan boroughs: Knowsley, St Helens, Sefton, Wirral, and the city of Liverpool...

 closed, where another Falklands veteran, the frigate , has remained. The other boat, , is located at Chatham. is harboured in Sassnitz
Sassnitz
Sassnitz is a town on the Jasmund peninsula, Rügen Island, in the Federal State of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany. The population as of 2007 was 10,747....

, Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 on the island of Rügen
Rügen
Rügen is Germany's largest island. Located in the Baltic Sea, it is part of the Vorpommern-Rügen district of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.- Geography :Rügen is located off the north-eastern coast of Germany in the Baltic Sea...

 and can be visited. Another two British Oberons were transferred to Canada: as a non-commissioned training vessel, and for spare part
Spare part
Spare Parts may also refer to:* Spare Parts , by Status Quo* Spare Parts is a Doctor Who audio drama.* Spare Parts , by Servotron* "Spare Parts" , by Bruce Springsteen* "Spare Parts"...

s. The other British submarines were disposed of.

Australia's six Oberons have been preserved and are on display, either completely or partially. is located at the Western Australian Maritime Museum at Fremantle
Fremantle, Western Australia
Fremantle is a city in Western Australia, located at the mouth of the Swan River. Fremantle Harbour serves as the port of Perth, the state capital. Fremantle was the first area settled by the Swan River colonists in 1829...

, while is located at the Australian National Maritime Museum
Australian National Maritime Museum
The Australian National Maritime Museum is a federally-operated maritime museum located in Darling Harbour, Sydney. After consideration of the idea to establish a maritime museum, the Federal government announced that a national maritime museum would be constructed at Darling Harbour, tied into...

 in Darling Harbour, Sydney. The fin, outer hull, and stern section of are preserved on land at Holbrook, New South Wales
Holbrook, New South Wales
Holbrook is a small town in Southern New South Wales, Australia. It is on the Hume Highway, 356 km North-East of Melbourne and 491 km south-west of Sydney between Tarcutta and Albury. The town is in the Greater Hume Shire Council area which was established in May 2004 from the merger of...

. is located at Westernport Bay, Victoria, where she has been awaiting conversion into a museum vessel since 2000; a lack of funding and cooperation from local and state governments means that the volunteer group hoping to preserve Otama attempted to sell the submarine on eBay but to no avail. 's fin stands as a permanent memorial at , Garden Island, Western Australia. 's fin stands as a permanent memorial at Rockingham Naval Memorial Park in Western Australia.
In 2005, it was announced that the four surviving Canadian
Royal Canadian Navy
The history of the Royal Canadian Navy goes back to 1910, when the naval force was created as the Naval Service of Canada and renamed a year later by King George V. The Royal Canadian Navy is one of the three environmental commands of the Canadian Forces...

 submarines (minus Osiris, which was scrapped in 1992 after being stripped for parts) were to be sold for scrapping, as they had deteriorated beyond the point of use. was purchased for C$4 plus tax by the Site historique maritime de la Pointe-au-Père
Site historique maritime de la Pointe-au-Père
The Site historique maritime de la Pointe-au-Père is a maritime museum located in Rimouski, Quebec, Canada, that displays 200 years of maritime history, and includes the only submarine open to the public in Canada, the .-Collection:...

 for use as a museum vessel, and was towed from Halifax to Pointe-au-Père, Quebec
Pointe-au-Père, Quebec
Pointe-au-Père is a settlement on the center part of the Bas-Saint-Laurent region in eastern Quebec at the mouth of the St. Lawrence River. Its population was 4,240 in 2002, in which year the City of Pointe-au-Père was merged with Rimouski....

 in July 2008. In July 2011, Olympus was towed to a scrapyard in Port Maitland, Ontario
Port Maitland, Ontario
thumb|Grand River, OntarioPort Maitland is a small community in the province of Ontario Canada.It is on the North shore of Lake Erie, at the mouth of the Grand River.At one time a canal connected the Welland Canal to the Grand River....

, with to be delivered to the same scrapyard in August 2011. has been earmarked for preservation at the Elgin Military Museum
Elgin Military Museum
The Elgin Military Museum is located in St. Thomas, Ontario. Its mandate is to preserve the local historical record of military service from the War of 1812 to present day peace keeping missions of the Canadian Forces.-History:...

.

One of the Brazilian Oberons (Tonelero) sank while docked at the navy yards at the Praça Mauá on Rio de Janeiro, on 24 December 2000. The surviving Brazilian Oberon, Riachuelo, was converted into a museum at the Brazilian Navy Cultural Center (Espaço Cultural da Marinha Brasileira) in Rio de Janeiro.

The Chilean Navy sold O'Brien to the city of Valdivia, to be converted into the first submarine museum of Chile. The submarine is to be modified in Asenav shipyard with better access for general public and to be moored in the Calle-Calle river that cross the city.

Successors


The Oberon class was briefly succeeded in RN service by the Upholder-class submarine
Upholder/Victoria class submarine
The Upholder/Victoria-class submarines, also known as the Type 2400 , are diesel-electric Fleet submarines designed in the UK in the late 1970s to supplement the Royal Navy's nuclear submarine force....

. The Upholder-class submarines were later upgraded and sold to the Canadian Forces after refit as the Victoria class
Upholder/Victoria class submarine
The Upholder/Victoria-class submarines, also known as the Type 2400 , are diesel-electric Fleet submarines designed in the UK in the late 1970s to supplement the Royal Navy's nuclear submarine force....

, again replacing Oberons.

The Australian Oberons were replaced by the six Collins-class submarines
Collins class submarine
The Collins class is a class of six Australian-built diesel-electric submarines operated by the Royal Australian Navy . The Collins class takes its name from Australian Vice Admiral John Augustine Collins; all six submarines are named after significant RAN personnel who distinguished themselves in...

.

The two Chilean Oberons were replaced by the Scorpène-class submarines
Scorpène class submarine
Scorpène class submarines are a class of diesel-electric attack submarine jointly developed by the French DCN and the Spanish company Navantia and now by DCNS. It features diesel propulsion and an additional air-independent propulsion ....

O'Higgins and Carrera.

External links