/>
X

A photo tour of the Oberon-class HMAS Ovens submarine (pictures)

The Oberon-class HMAS Ovens submarine served Australia for 26 years. Now a museum ship, it lays in dry dock in Fremantle, at the Western Australia Maritime Museum. Here's a full tour.

headshots_Geoffrey_Morrison_140x100.jpg
Geoffrey Morrison
ovens-gal-opener.jpg
1 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Ovens

The HMAS Ovens, a museum ship dry-docked in Fremantle, Western Australia, served in the Royal Australian Navy for 26 years.

The diesel-powered ship was not named after a gas range. Rather, it honors Irishman and Australian explorer John Ovens (1788-1825).

For the full story behind the tour, check out "Hot sub time machine: A photo tour of the HMAS Ovens submarine."

1-battery.jpg
2 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Batteries included

Before you head out to the ship, in the museum itself is one of the 448 battery cells. Each is 2 volts, run in series in two batteries, for a total of 440 volts.

2-nose.jpg
3 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Frontispiece

As you walk out to the ship, on display is a nose cone from an Oberon-class boat. The torpedo with the orange stripes is a WWII-era diesel-powered torpedo.

3-nose.jpg
4 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Tight fit

Quite a tight fit, though I guess that makes sense. Up top, sonar array. 

4-sonar.jpg
5 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Ears

On the walk to the sub is a hydrophone, the "ears" of the sub. Never knew what these looked like before.

5-nose.jpg
6 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Bow

Three torpedo tubes on each side. Originally there were two more in the stern, but as you'll see, they're gone.

6-tail.jpg
7 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Props

No fancy pump jets for this sub, just two old-fashioned screws, driven by electric motors (and electricity from two V16 diesel generators).

7-torpedo-tubes.jpg
8 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Torpedoes and missiles

Originally the Ovens was just equipped with torpedoes, but eventually it was able to fire Harpoon missiles, horizontally, from the torpedo tubes. They'd head to the surface, light their booster rockets and scream through the air toward their target.

8-on-deck.jpg
9 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

On deck

You enter the Ovens by going up a few flights of stairs, and climbing down through the torpedo loading tube. This is surprisingly common, since the original way of entering the sub involved enlistment (kidding; a ladder).

9-sail.jpg
10 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Flags

Silence IS golden. Note the Jolly Roger.

10-bow.jpg
11 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Safety first

The railing is for the safety of sailors so they wouldn't slip off into the sea (from which there's no easy way back up again).

11-enter.jpg
12 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Below the surface

Down you go! This is the view back up the entrance. It's a fairly tight fit.

12-torpedo.jpg
13 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Three up and three down

Here you can see all six torpedo tubes. The orange suit is used in an emergency evacuation. The silver tube at the top of the picture (with the two lines of red tape) is the escape trunk.

13-front-bunks.jpg
14 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Bunks and bunks and a dining room

The next room down is the main crew bunks. Each main crew member gets his own bunk. This is also where the crew ate their meals.

14-main-hatch.jpg
15 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Main entrance

The main entrance. Rather nondescript, isn't it?

15-main-hatch-up.jpg
16 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Hatches

Really nondescript. Also, shut.

16-senior-sailors-mess.jpg
17 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Mess

The senior sailors' mess. The higher-ranking officers got this spacious playground. The mannequins, as you'll see, are a little…odd.

17-senior-sailors-mess.jpg
18 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Multimedia

Check out that big-screen TV! And cassettes! Love it.

18-galley.jpg
19 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Food

The galley. According to tour guide, former CPO Coombs, Navy food was good, and submarine food was even better.

19-sickbay.jpg
20 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Multiuse

The chief engineer's cabin…and also the sick bay.

20-wardroom.jpg
21 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Wardroom

The wardroom was for the officers. Check out that laptop. One of my favorite things about tours like this is when they leave era-appropriate technology around as sort of mise-en-scène.

21-bridge.jpg
22 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Bridge

Here are the two main fire control terminals. The six rows of six buttons are for each torpedo tube. The happy gent on the right is the sonar operator.

22-sonar.jpg
23 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Sonar (and my arm)

Sorry for the picture quality, it was a bit dark. You can also see my arm! GoPros are really wide-angle. So yeah, this is the sonar station.

23-sail.jpg
24 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Sail?

In the middle of the bridge is access to the conning tower. I've never actually been up in one of these. I'd like to. Anyone know where? In the lockers are a .50 cal machine gun and various sidearms and ammo.

24-dials-and-knobs.jpg
25 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Dials and knobs

Dials, knobs and tubes. Miles and miles of tubes. Every sailor on the sub would have to know what every knob and dial did and showed.

25-driver.jpg
26 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Driving Mrs. Ovens

Not sure if there’s a clutch. The box to the right is the autopilot/inertial navigation.

26-head.jpg
27 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Head

Just off the bridge are several toilets, or heads. The space in the middle of the image is one of the showers. "Once a week, whether you need it or not."

27-engine-room.jpg
28 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

V16 power

The huge 16-cylinder engines didn't actually drive the props, at least not directly. Instead, they generated electricity to recharge the batteries and power the electric motors.

28-engineering.jpg
29 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Engine room

Dials for every aspect of the sub's drivetrain and power.

29-corridor.jpg
30 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Bunks front to back

The crew at the back of the ship generally stayed at the back of the ship, and the crew at the front stayed in the front. That’s because subs are very carefully balanced fore and aft.

30-aft-living.jpg
31 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Rear dining room

Engineers slept and ate back here. Note the small rectangular hole in the center-right of the image. Movies were projected through this hole into the next room.

31-laser.jpg
32 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

High-tech

LaserDisc! Like I said, I love the era-specific tech and signage.

32-rear-torpedo-room.jpg
33 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Rear 'torpedo' room

The aftmost space on the ship; once there were two torpedo tubes here, but they were removed. This room has had much renovation; it used to have bunks and extensive emergency escape gear.

last-ship-photo.jpg
34 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Museum

The Ovens, like all museum ships, looks slightly out of place out of the water, but there’s a certain stately majesty to it.

closer-museum.jpg
35 of 35 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

WA Maritime Museum

The Western Australia Maritime Museum and the HMAS Ovens are well worth a visit if you’re in the Perth area. A bit of a hike for most of you, I imagine…

Check out the full story behind the tour at "Hot sub time machine: A photo tour of the HMAS Ovens submarine."

More Galleries

Nintendo Switch: The 37 best games to play in 2021

More Galleries

Nintendo Switch: The 37 best games to play in 2021

38 Photos
2022 Genesis G80 Sport sharpens up

More Galleries

2022 Genesis G80 Sport sharpens up

4 Photos
2020 Perseid meteor shower photos shine bright in a dark year

More Galleries

2020 Perseid meteor shower photos shine bright in a dark year

14 Photos
Mazda MX-30 EV has suicide doors and cork interior trim

More Galleries

Mazda MX-30 EV has suicide doors and cork interior trim

46 Photos
2021 BMW 330e: A plug-in powerhouse

More Galleries

2021 BMW 330e: A plug-in powerhouse

51 Photos
Redesigned Kia Sportage: Movin' on up

More Galleries

Redesigned Kia Sportage: Movin' on up

8 Photos
2022 Audi RS E-Tron GT is an EV that slaps

More Galleries

2022 Audi RS E-Tron GT is an EV that slaps

46 Photos