1923 there was vigorous debate on the subject of whether Britain
should build replacement submarines for the "J" Class or build them
in Australia. Britain was chosen.
the third attempt to establish Australia's submarine force began
in April and June 1927 when HMAS Oxley and HMAS Otway were commissioned
into the Royal Australian Navy.
their delivery voyage which began in February 1928, cracks were
found in their engine columns and both were laid up in Malta for
over eight months. They both arrived in Australia in February 1929,
just over a year after sailing from England.Unfortunately,
Australia's third attempt at maintaining a submarine service was
terminated when armament limitations and the deepening economic
depression forced the paying off of both boats at the end of 1929.
Both boats were transferred to the Royal Navy in 1931.
On 9 September 1939
the now HMS Oxley was the first allied naval casualty of World War
II when she was sunk by a torpedo from another British submarine,
HMS Triton. The apparent cause of this was an incorrect response
to a recognition challenge. Apart
from a small Dutch submarine (K9) used for training purposes during
WWII, Australia would not operate submarines for the next thirty
A liability rather
than an asset, the K9 was used by the R.A.N. for less than a year
in an anti-submarine training role. Commissioned into the navy in
June 1943, she was manned by Royal navy personnel with some Australian
liability became obvious in that her batteries had a habit of exploding
when she was dived, which was very disconcerting to the crew. She
was paid off after nine months and passed back to Dutch control
had been short of submarines in WWII, Australian submariners were
not as many British boats were commanded or crewed by Australian
the years 1949 - 1969 a total of ten "A" and "T" class were stationed
in Sydney. Although never commissioned into the R.A.N., the running
costs were met by Australia and New Zealand. They rendered valuable
service to the R.A.N. and from this class were developed the later
the fifth attempt at establishing and Australian submarine arm the
decision was taken to acquire a new force of four Oberon Class submarines
to be built at Scotts on the Clyde. The first of this new breed
was HMAS Oxley, commissioned in March 1967, followed by her sisters
HMAS Otway, HMAS Ovens and HMAS Onslow. HMAS Oxley's arrival in
Sydney coincided with the commissioning of the submarine base HMAS
Platypus established at Neutral bay, Sydney.
In 1977-78 two more units, HMAS Orion and HMAS Otama, joined the
squadron and all were eventually modernized in an ambitious and
Now these aging boats which have given excellent service to the
R.A.N. are currently being phased out to make way for the new breed
of Submarine being built in South Australia, the Collins Class.
From a beginning which relied heavily on support from mother England,
the Australian submarine service has matured into an elite branch
of the navy with a company whose pride of service is unsurpassed.