January 31, 2017

Visit to HMAS OTWAY Holbrook (Oberon) Submarine Museum

HMAS OTWAY at her Holbrook home.

In the first of Pete's long distance submarine quests he travelled 100s of kms into Australia's semi-desert to visit a huge (in its time) Oberon class submarine. For submarine junkies, historians, kids and everyone else this Oberon class submarine is HMAS OTWAY - Holbrook Submarine Museum. In the 1990s the top half of OTWAY was cut up and trucked from its former operating base (at HMAS Platypus), in Sydney Harbour, 500 kms southwest to the small town of Holbrook, New South Wales. Holbrook is halfway between Australia's two largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, just off Australia's busiest "Hume" highway

Australia’s Oberon class “O boats” were highly successful from the beginning. Reasons for that success included:
-  use of an evolved, design (with few vices and good diesels) based on 60+ years of British
   submarine design, 
-  strong influences of the captured (and revolutionary) German Type XXI U-boats, and
-  from before WWI Australian born "British" officers and crew serving for decades, in war and
   peace, in the UK Royal Navy (RN) submarine service. This included Aussies in RN Oberons,
   before Oberons the RN Porpoise class, further back WWII V class1930s T class etc. 

See vital information and statistics about OTWAY and Oberons at

See Submarine Matters'  December 16, 2013 article for brief details of (then) secret Oberon exploits, including OTWAY's - at Australian Oberon Submarine Intelligence Gathering . Also see.


This 2014 youtube tells of Commander Holbrook VC's exploits, The Museum growing Oberon collection, Gundula Holbrook's hologram, and much more.

In the pamphlet information below the Holbrook Museum describes how Oberon submarine, HMAS OTWAY, got there, the steadily expanding exhibit of the insides of an Oberon submarine, full of analogue gauges and systems http://mgnsw.org.au/organisations/holbrook-submarine-museum/ :

“Our prize exhibit is a genuine WW II “Jolly Roger” flag from a British submarine, it is one of only three dozen world-wide that remain from over 300 British and Australian submarines that operated in time of war.

We have the original above water line superstructure of the Oberon Class submarine HMAS OTWAY set within beautiful parkland.  Also a large scale model of Lt. [later Commander] Norman Holbrook VC's submarine B11.

We have recently completed re-building HMAS OTWAY’S original Wardroom (Officer’s quarters) in front of our control room within the Museum. The 7 original masts [periscopes, snorkel, antennas, radar] are back on the Otway with the Radar mast rotating during daylight hours.

In the museum you will see the extraordinary Hologram in which [Holbrook’s widow Mrs Gundula Holbrook, interestingly of Austrian birth, hence German accent!] tells the  fascinating story of her husband’s brave exploits on [HMS] B11 in 1914 and the subsequent town's name change [from the unpopular, in WWI, name "Germanton" to "Holbrook"]. The theatre seats forty and is wheel chair friendly. You will see an original torpedo tube with a torpedo mounted, two rooms full of interesting artefacts and information.

Then to finish (without having to go under water) you will enter the main passage from HMAS OTWAY and be able to sit in the officer's wardroom and experience what it would be like to live in a submarine. You may look through the periscope to see 360 degree views of Holbrook and take as many photos as you like.

On the way out there is a photographic exhibition showing how the Otway was transported and re-built here in Holbrook. Then don't forget to sign the guest book!”


1 comment:

Peter Coates said...

Mark Sander, a former submariner and currently President of the Submarine Institute of Australia, has written a fond remembrance of Australia's Oberon class submarines mostly based (1970s-90s) in Sydney Harbour at HMAS Platypus.

See "From clockwork mouse to strategic capability in 50 years" of 17 Aug 2017 at https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/clockwork-mouse-strategic-capability-50-years/ .

HMAS Otway was one of those Aussie Oberons.