A centenary of submarine service recognised

Published on Ms Natalie Staples (author), ABIS Tom Gibson (photographer)

Location(s): Sydney, NSW

Topic(s): HMAS AE1, HMAS AE2

Minister for Defence, the Hon David Johnston MP addresses the crowd at the Centenary of Submarines launch, hosted by the Submarine Institute Australia (SIA) and Submarine Association Australia (SAA) at the Australian National Maritime Museum, Darling Harbour, Sydney. (photo: ABIS Tom Gibson)
Minister for Defence, the Hon David Johnston MP addresses the crowd at the Centenary of Submarines launch, hosted by the Submarine Institute Australia (SIA) and Submarine Association Australia (SAA) at the Australian National Maritime Museum, Darling Harbour, Sydney.

The hundredth anniversary of submarines operating in the defence of Australia was marked by an event held at the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney today.

Director General Submarine Capability, Commodore Peter Scott, CSC, RAN joined the Minister for Defence David Johnston MP at the Centenary of Submarines launch, hosted by the Submarine Institute Australia (SIA) and Submarine Association Australia (SAA).

Commodore Scott acknowledged the SIA and SAA role in celebrating the milestone and reflected on the last one hundred years of submarine service.

“The Royal Australian Navy was an early adopter of submarine technology. The arrival of AE1 and AE2 at the outbreak of the First World War marked the beginnings of a proud submarine heritage.

“These first generation submarines served with distinction and made a significant contribution to the RAN’s WWI service record. Sadly both submarines were lost during the war, with AE1 disappearing off Rabaul, taking with her thirty-fives lives. Her resting place remains one of Navy’s greatest mysteries,” said Commodore Scott.

“During the decades that followed, numerous attempts were made to establish a submarine force, including the five J class submarines gifted to Australia by Britain after the war and the Odin Class of the late 1920s.

“While Australia did not operate any indigenous submarines during World War II apart from K9, which was used for training, hundreds of Allied submarines operated from Brisbane and Fremantle. After the war, a flotilla of three British submarines were based at HMAS Penguin between 1949 and 1969, continuing to defend Australia and the Commonwealth’s interests,” Commodore Scott said.

“It wasn’t until the 1960s that the modern era of submarines in the RAN commenced with the acquisition of Oberon Class submarines. The diesel-electric ‘O-boats’ served from 1967 to 2000 and provided invaluable service.

“When it came time to replace the O-boats, no off the shelf design met Australia’s requirements for range, endurance and overall capability, so a new design solution was required. The resultant Collins Class guided missile submarines continue to provide Australia with critical offensive and defensive capability,” said Commodore Scott.

“Over the decades, submarine design has continued to evolve. What has not changed is the potency of submarines as instruments of maritime power and their importance to Australia’s defence strategy and our ability to trade,” said Commodore Scott.

“While the platforms receive a lot of attention, it is also important to acknowledge the men and women who have served on our submarines. The bravery and pioneering spirit of our earliest submariners continues to be reflected in the pride modern day submariners have in ‘the Silent Service’.

The RAN, SIA and SAA will host a number of commemorative events during 2014. A program can be viewed at http://www.aussubs100.com.

Publicly accessible events will be listed on the events section of the Navy website (http://www.navy.gov.au) when details are finalised.

Imagery is available on the Royal Australian Navy Media Library at http://images.navy.gov.au/S20140212.