Fin slices into history books

03/Jul/2009

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A GIANT piece of Australia’s naval history was the centre of attention last Thursday during a massive six-hour operation to move a submarine fin to its new, permanent home at Rockingham Naval Memorial Park.

Weighing 19 tonnes and measuring 12m wide and 6.6m tall, the fin of the Royal Australian Navy’s decommissioned submarine HMAS Orion, was transported from the City of Rockingham depot with the help of two huge cranes, 10 men and a police traffic escort.

The fin, which houses the conning tower, is made of metal surrounded by a fibreglass skin. It was an important part of HMAS Orion, one of six Oberon- class conventional submarines.

HMAS Orion was built in Scotland in 1974, commissioned in 1977 and was the last of six submarines to be decommissioned in 1996 after 19 years’ service. It travelled 321,850 nautical miles conducting important, covert national strategic operations around the world.

WA Naval Association Rockingham president Mal Hughes said it was a special part of Australia’s naval history.

“This is the fin from the last of the Oberon-class submarines and to have it in our naval memorial park really is quite a coup,” he said.

The entire operation to move the fin was performed free of charge with the logistics of the transportation organised through OzWest director Joe O’Malley and cranes organised by the Freo Group.

John Rana, of Waikiki, who was the chief coxswain on HMAS Orion for 18 months in 1979, involved primarily in disciplinary areas as well as managing the 64 crew on board, said it was “fantastic” to see part of it preserved.

“It’s good to look back in the past and see it here...it makes the memories flood back,” he said.

A formal dedication ceremony will be held later this year.


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