HMS Otus (S18)

HMS Otus was a Royal Navy Oberon-class submarine launched in 1962. She was decommissioned in the early 1990s and is now a naval museum in Germany.

HMS Otus
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Otus
Builder: Scotts Yard in Greenock, Scotland
Yard number: 688
Laid down: 31 May 1961
Launched: 17 October 1962
Commissioned: 5 October 1963
Decommissioned: 1990s
Identification: Pennant number: S18
Status: Museum ship in Sassnitz, Germany
General characteristics as designed
Class and type: Oberon class
  • 1,610 tons standard
  • 2,030 tons full load surfaced
  • 2,410 tons full load submerged
Beam: 26.5 feet (8.1 m)
Draught: 18 feet (5.5 m)
  • 2 × Admiralty Standard Range 16 VMS diesel generators
  • 2 × 3,000 shaft horsepower (2,200 kW) electric motors
  • 2 shafts
  • 17 knots (31 km/h; 20 mph) submerged
  • 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph) surfaced
Complement: 68 (6 officers, 62 enlisted)
Sensors and
processing systems:
  • Type 186 and Type 187 sonars
  • I-band surface search radar
  • 8 × 21-inch (530 mm) torpedo tubes (6 forward, 2 aft)
  • 24 torpedoes

Design and construction

The Oberon class was a direct follow on of the Porpoise-class, with the same dimensions and external design, but updates to equipment and internal fittings, and a higher grade of steel used for fabrication of the pressure hull.[1]

As designed for British service, the Oberon-class submarines were 241 feet (73 m) in length between perpendiculars and 295.2 feet (90.0 m) in length overall, with a beam of 26.5 feet (8.1 m), and a draught of 18 feet (5.5 m).[2] Displacement was 1,610 tons standard, 2,030 tons full load when surfaced, and 2,410 tons full load when submerged.[2] Propulsion machinery consisted of 2 Admiralty Standard Range 16 VMS diesel generators, and two 3,000 shaft horsepower (2,200 kW) electric motors, each driving a 7-foot diameter (2.1 m) 3-bladed propeller at up to 400 rpm.[2] Top speed was 17 knots (31 km/h; 20 mph) when submerged, and 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph) on the surface.[2] Eight 21-inch (530 mm) diameter torpedo tubes were fitted (six facing forward, two aft), with a total payload of 24 torpedoes.[2] The boats were fitted with Type 186 and Type 187 sonars, and an I-band surface search radar.[2] The standard complement was 68: 6 officers, 62 sailors.[2]

Otus was laid down by Scotts Shipbuilding and Engineering Company on 31 May 1961, and launched on 17 October 1962.[2] Sea trials were undertaken in Scottish waters, mainly Loch Long and Loch Fyne. The boat was commissioned into the Royal Navy on 5 October 1963.[2]

Operational history

The first commission of Otus included large-scale missile trial exercises in the Atlantic Ocean and visits to the United States and Halifax, Canada.

Otus attended the 1977 Silver Jubilee Fleet Review off Spithead when she was part of the Submarine Flotilla.[3]

In July 1987, a team of British, Commonwealth and international submariners took part in trials in Bjornafjorden, near Bergen, Norway, aboard Otus. They ran a series of progressively deeper escapes, starting at 30 metres (98 ft). At 90 metres (300 ft), individuals started to drop out. At the end of the trials two submariners reached a depth of 183 metres (600 ft). This set a new world record which to date has not been broken. Of the two record breakers, the first (the commander of the Submarine Escape Training Tower at HMS Dolphin) was a regular ascent under control. The second, a petty officer instructor from the Submarine Escape Training Tower suffered an emergency release having given the alarm signal whilst flooding up the chamber. It was considered safer and quicker to escape him rather than depressurise and drain down. Both escapees suffered no lasting effects and returned to normal service. Both received military honours of the British Empire in the following years for this act.

Otus was deployed to the Persian Gulf during the 1991 Gulf War under Operation Granby. On her return to Gosport, she was flying a Jolly Roger; the only indication that the submarine had been involved in deploying and recovering Special Air Service and Special Boat Service personnel.[4][5]

Decommissioning and museum

Otus was decommissioned in the early 1990s and resided at Pound's scrapyard in Portsmouth for several years. She was later purchased by a German entrepreneur, who moored her in the harbour of the town of Sassnitz on the island of Rügen in Germany to act as a floating naval museum.[6]


  1. Chant, Christopher (2005). Submarine Warfare Today: The World's Deadliest Underwater Weapons Systems. Wigston: Silverdale Books. p. . ISBN 1-84509-158-2. OCLC 156749009.
  2. Moore, John, ed. (1977). Jane's Fighting Ships 1977-78. Jane's Fighting Ships (80th ed.). London: Jane's Yearbooks. p. 490. ISBN 0531032779. OCLC 18207174.
  3. Official Souvenir Programme, 1977. Silver Jubilee Fleet Review, HMSO
  4. Richards, Bill; Smith, Peter (December 2006). "Onslow's Jolly Roger". Signals. Australian National Maritime Museum (77): 11. ISSN 1033-4688.
  5. Oliver, Sarah (2 April 2011). "Return of the Triumph: With the skull and crossbones flying defiantly at its mast, submarine that launched attack on Gaddafi comes home". Daily Mail Online. Retrieved 16 January 2014.
  6. "HMS Otus - Oberon class, home page". Retrieved 29 January 2012.


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