Submarine: HMAS Onslow

Serving with quiet distinction

HMAS Onlsow in the water next to Action Stations at the museum with the city in the background

Come aboard a real-life submarine and venture into the secret world of submarine warfare.

  • About


    Venture into the secret world of submarine warfare on HMAS Onslow. Our submarine was decommissioned in 1999, just weeks before coming to the museum. It's still close to operational condition. So, if you go onboard, listen out for the diving alarm!

    Onslow was commissioned during the Cold War, a tense time that called for a submarine to watch, listen and collect information without detection. It's most secretive work was tracking Soviet submarines moving into the Arabian Gulf from Vladivostok via the Coral Sea and the Great Australian Bight.

    With 5 other Oberons, Onslow gave the Royal Australian Navy a formidable submarine force. The motto of the navy's submarine arm is "Strength, silence, surprise". This explains many of Onslow's characteristics, including:

    • a diving chamber for Special Forces to leave the boat for covert operations
    • a gash ejector containing weighted rubbish (gash) bags. When ejected, the bags sink to the ocean floor so no debris floats to give away the submarine's position
    • soundproofing on all equipment to make Oberons one of the quietest class of submarines ever built.

    Onslow has travelled the equivalent of more than 16 times around the world, serving Australia with quiet distinction for 30 years.

    Explore the danger and drama of life on board Onslow in Action Stations, our immersive experience.

    Ticket Information

    Open daily from 9:30am with last boarding at 4:10pm

    Buy a Big Ticket when you arrive (see our Admissions page for prices and to book your tickets) which includes entry to all visitor spaces as well as tours (both guided and self-guided) of Submarine HMAS Onslow and Destroyer HMAS Vampire (when open).

    Our Plan Your Visit page has everything you need to know about a trip to the museum.

    Become a Maritime Museum Member and receive FREE or discounted entry to all our events and exhibitions, as well as many other benefits.

    Visiting tips

    • Kids must be accompanied by an adult.
    • For safety reasons, children have to be at least 90cm in height to board all vessels.
    • Be prepared to get physical. Most vessels involve some climbing, crouching and navigating confined spaces.
    • No high heels. Flat shoes with enclosed toe recommended.
    • To ensure visitor safety, we close all vessels when the temperature reaches 36° Celsius.
    • Buy a Big Ticket for full access to the museum’s vessels or save money with a Family Membership Pass.

    Take a tour

    What is hot bunking? Ask our volunteers on board this unique vessel to find out! View the cramped conditions (including a tiny galley capable of serving four meals a day for 64 men) and visit the control room with its two periscopes, the 'eyes' of the vessel. A tour of both HMAS Onslow and the Destroyer HMAS Vampire, when open, is included when you buy a Big Ticket. Ask at the desk about times when you arrive.

    Flickr gallery

    See photos of Onslow on the way to Garden Island.

    Keep in touch

    Receive our e-newsletters for the latest news including special offers, advance bookings, sneak previews and more.

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  • Photo Gallery

    Photo Gallery

    Torpedo tubes in HMAS ONSLOWInterior of HMAS ONSLOWInterior of HMAS ONSLOWPlans of submarine HMAS ONSLOWEngine room in HMAS ONSLOWInterior of HMAS ONSLOWCouple in HMAS ONSLOW. Photo by Wendell Levi TeodoroFamily onboard HMAS ONSLOW. Photo by Wendell Levi Teodoro
  • Ship Specifications

    Ship Specifications

    Oberon class submarine
    Laid down 1967, launched 1968
    Commissioned 1969
    Decommissioned 1999
    Transferred by the Department of Defence to National Maritime Museum 1999
    Length 89.90 m (295 ft)
    Beam 8.07 m (26.5 ft)
    Built Scotts Shipbuilding and Engineering Co, Greenock, Scotland
    Propulsion Two mechanically supercharged Admiralty Standard Range diesel generators with two English Electric propulsion motors
    Speed 15 knots + submerged; 12 knots surfaced
    Maximum depth
    Over 190 metres
    Complement 60 sailors, 8 officers
    Armament Six 21-inch bow torpedo tubes capable of launching anti-ship and anti-submarine Mk 48 torpedoes, and anti-ship UGM-84 Harpoon missiles
    Pendant 60

  • School Excursions

    School Excursions

    A group of school children on endeavour

    School Excursions

    We offer a truly unique excursion experience for students and teachers alike.