The Westerport Association

27th June 2002 - Status report

-----Original Message-----
Rikard-Bell Michael
Sent: Thursday, 27 June 2002 11:08 AM
To: Peter Briggs
Cc: Geoff R Allman;; Max Bryant; Roger Turner; David Hoare


Thought that you might like an update.

Mooring - the western anchors have dragged about 30m to the east. Dick Cox checked on the boat this morning and all seems well despite 45 knots from the NW. I understand that he has requested that we get a diver to buoy the anchor to enable this leg to be reset.

HP air - not much success here I am afraid. There is still some air in No4 group plus some in one air aided escape bottle and in one of the ALA bottles. I have passed the problem on to Dennis Benson of Air Supply Pty Ltd who is assessing three option for us viz
- charge one or more groups to 2,500psi using a dive compressor (like Roger, he doesn't recommend 3,500psi)
- hook up an LP compressor direct to one of the test blanks
- charge all available bottles to 150psi
Dennis is keen to help, he has a son in the Navy and may be able to help with loan equipment

Electrical System - more success here with the assistance of Mark ? a recent O boat crew member. The LP battery was connected up and put on
line resulting in some dim panel lighting and a barely audible intercom. We will need a multi-stage charger (about $1100) to achieve any worthwhile results. The battery consists of two banks each with four 21 plate 6v cells each giving 384amps at the 10 hr rate.

We also ran through the 115v 60Hz system with Mark and, after discussions with Richard Parkin, we feel that it may be possible to power up this system using the proposed generator via a transformer. This will give us lighting throughout the boat however we will have to check all power outlets as some have been simply cut off. We should also be able to power up the 230v 60Hz system via the three step-up transformers.

Peter, do you have an Electrical Engineering manual as my AC supply schematics may well be out of date.

Roger, any news from Geordie Bunting re the WT office door combination ? We need to get in to check all AC power outlets.

Hydraulics - some success here. The main replenishing tank is at working level and one ALA is operational with 2,100 psi in the air bottles however the ALA is currently isolated from the system. We were able to centralize the rudder using the aft hand pump with the bulkhead valves shut off. Our efforts to raise a periscope failed as I think that the main by-pass valves in the control room could be open which is why we successfully transferred the contents of the hand pump replenishing tank to the main replenishing tank. From memory, we should be able to take suction from the return main on all three hand pumps in future.

I gather that our next working bee on board will be on the 6th July ? I would be available then but will be in Tasmania for 10 days plus from the 17th July.

With best regards


-- Michael Rikard-Bell & Associates Consulting Marine Engineers & Naval Architects Ph: 61-3-9787 7444 Fax: 61-3-9787 8929 Email: Web:


Many thanks for the SITREP, sounds like you have been enjoying yourselves.I will be available for the 6 July. I do not have any electrical handbooks I am afraid. Norm Williams at the submarine school in WA, or Norm O'Neill in OVENS may be able to help.

Peter Briggs

15th May 2002

Status report received from RADM Peter Briggs RAN AO CSC RAN (rtd)

Allow me in this audience, to recognize the outstanding effort, which the submarine community in WA have put in to achieve the sail away. It has made me proud to be a member.

At this end we have been busy and could do with assistance from anyone with an interest and the time.

* In particular we are short of MTPs, ETPs, ETSs and Seaman and submarine skills in general. In other words, any help would be welcome!
* Please feel free to contact me if you are able to assist in any way.

We will do our best to ensure that OTAMA comes to a fitting resting place:

* The basic concept is to float the SM over a cradle positioned in a temporary dock, dug in a headland at Hastings
* Seal the dock and pump out to leave OTAMA high and dry with the main internal deck at ground level
* Remove the battery and set up AC ventilation, air conditioning and lighting services
* Provide an ‘interpretative centre’ connected with the bow by a tunnel which provides access via a doorway cut in the starboard forward side of the fore ends
* Audio visual guided tour from interpretative centre through tunnels and SM
* Exit via a door in the side of the after ends

We enjoy a good/growing level of support form the council, State and Federal Governments, however the local Councillor, who does not wish the project to go ahead, is vehemently opposing us:

* You may see some protest action if she can assemble sufficient comrades
* This is causing all concerned considerable additional effort and anguish – politics/environmentalism is universal!

I remain confident that:

* We will overcome,
* Hastings will get a tourist draw card which it sorely needs and
* OTAMA will find a fitting home.


Peter Briggs

03 5975 2939
03 5975 2909 (F)
0401 004 688 (M)

29th April 2002

On Wednesday 17 April HMAS Otama left Fleet Base West under tow for her new home in Westernport, Victoria. Unfortunately only 30 minutes notice was given of her departure and attendance was low. A very low key operation. Sad that the old girl was not given a proper send off! She arrived at Westernport AM 29th April after having a heavy crossing. Otama's official handover ceremony was held on Saturday 4th May, 2PM. It seems that the tugboats wrapped cables around her (Otama's) props - very handy for manoeuvring. Also managed to wrap cables around their own shafts - and the navy tug bent a shaft! Sounds like fun, eh!

Biff Mills thought we might like to look at a Computer Image the Council & EPA put together of the grand old lady showing how she will look in her final resting position, it gives a good idea how she will look. Biff went on board to check how much TLC she requires, and said that he was glad to report that, for her to have been out of commission for 18months, and the rough passage she had with the tow, she's not in bad nick, it all seems cosmetic, and should be a breeze to get back into shape. With Peter Briggs doing rounds you lot had better get work harder than you did while in Pussers!

Jim Moon tried his hand as a photographer and sent some pictures to Boot, who has onforwarded them for us all to see and I will put them online soon. Jim never fails to amaze me, how one man can have so many talents, I am envious of him (as well as Sandy) for having so many talents, although he modestly tries to keep them hidden.

Westerport 29th May 2002

Departing Western Australia 17th April 2002

RADM Peter Briggs RAN AO CSC RAN (rtd) at hand over.

17 April 2002

HMAS Otama finally left Fleet Base West for Westernport in Victoria where a band of eager volunteers are waiting to bestow heaps of tender loving care on her in preparation for her becoming a tourist attraction and learning centre. As usual the Navy excelled in the area of public relations. We were given less than a half hours notice that she was leaving and this resulted in only a small number being there to see her leave.

In response to an email I sent to announce the sailing of HMAS Otama David Holland wrote: "This is really 'the end of an era'. Very sad. I still remember the OTAMA trip 'Uptop' with Mickey Dunne in 83' - we collected some fishing nets around the search periscope. I was on the planes (no comment) and Micky had me go deep, come to PD, (several times) then go deep astern, back to PD (nets still there) go deep astern again, fast run deep astern and then back to PD. At last we were free. Went out to the shipping lanes and surfaced. Still got some of the huge nooks and net caught in the fin. Often wonder what happened to the fishermen. Guess they had a good story about the 'one that got away'. Memories ' what a trip'.

HMAS Otama de-commisioning ceremony, HMAS Stirling Friday, 15th December 2000

12 November 2001

To all Otama Supporters and those interested in Submarine Affairs.

As you all probably have heard by now, the Western Port Oberon Association was successful in its bid to obtain HMAS Otama for the Victorian Township of Hastings.

Many long years of hard work and planning have finally paid off. So many people have given their heart and soul to making this dream a reality. Their time, money and resources have been provided without a word of "whats in it for me?", they just wanted to do something positive for the community and their efforts have now been rewarded. They will be thanked in a more formal way in the near future but for now, THANKYOU. It couldn't have happened without you all.

The announcement was made here at Hastings by Dr Brendan Nelson on behalf of the Minister of Defence. There was a great turnout with the Hastings RSL Hall bursting at the seams. It was also great to have CMRE Dennis Mole as one of the Distinguished Guests. As an old C.O. of Otama I think he was pretty pleased to see the old girl being preserved for history.

The Federal Government also provided a Federation Grant of $500,000 to assist in getting the project off the ground . The grant is to assist in paying for Otama's relocation to Victoria from WA and getting it up on dry land to be readied for display.

The overall project has been tentatively costed at approx. 2.5 million dollars so we only have another 2 million to find ... shouldn't be that hard eh???

A thumb nail guide to the proposed timeframe is as follows:

March / April 2002 - Towed to Western Port from WA (Best Weather Window)
June / July 2002 - Docked Down (Highest Tides for the Year)
End of 2002 / early 2003 - Opened to the Public.

There is a lot of work to be done to meet these timeframes so the Western Port Oberon Association has formed some working teams to achieve these goals. We are currently putting together a Technical and Towing Team, a Land site Construction Team, a Finance, Marketing, Membership and Sponsorship Team and a Exhibit and Display Team. These teams will put together a work and personnel plan in the near future and get stuck in to make it happen.

Many people have surfaced to assist in the project, with many old faces and a lot of new ones. It amazes me how willing people are to get involved in projects such as this. It is a big ask of their time but those with vision can see how worthwhile it will be in the long run.

There are many exciting things on the drawing board for the project and as they are fleshed out I will make sure you are all informed. I hope to put out this little news sheet on a monthly basis so that all those who are interested can be kept up to date. If you would rather not be on the newsletter list, please let me know and I can remove you from it. On the other hand, if you know anyone else who would be interested in being kept informed of Otama's progress, please forward this on to them and ask them to send me an e-mail and I will include them on the list.

Over the next year or so there will be a lot of work to be done. If you are interested in being involved, just drop me an e-mail or ring me. Everyone has something they can contribute, and EVERY contribution is valuable.

Until next time, Cheers from the Western Port Oberon Association.

Phil Solomon
Secretary - WOA
03 59 871318

4th OCTOBER 2001


Dr Brendan Nelson MP, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence, announced today that the decommissioned submarine, OTAMA, would be transferred to the Victorian community of Hastings. Speaking from Hastings, Dr Nelson recognised the 'passionate enthusiasm' of the Western Port Oberon Association, which had been supported by a detailed three-volume submission. The Association will pay $50 000 for the submarine.

'Although Hastings was the only bidder for this remarkable piece of Australian Naval history, it was subjected to rigorous examination by a panel within Defence, headed by Commodore Denis Mole, a former Captain of OTAMA. 'I can think of no finer place for it to be displayed for the education and enjoyment of future generations of Australians'

'In this the centenary of federation, it is appropriate that $500 000 of Defence federation funds be committed to this project as a means of preserving Australia's finest submarine heritage in a community that has worked so hard to acquire it', said Dr Nelson. Dr Nelson said that $500 000 will be granted to the Western Port Oberon Association to assist it with the considerable costs of towing OTAMA from HMAS Stirling in Western Australia and moving it onto its waterfront land-based display.

Mr Max Bryant, president of the Western Port Oberon Association, received from Dr Nelson OTAMA's Bell and Clinometer as the first symbolic handing over. The submarine will be the centrepiece of a Naval Memorial Park. 'Securing OTAMA has given Hastings the centrepiece for a world class tourist attraction,' said Max Bryant. 'It will not only ensure the memory of HMAS OTAMA will be preserved but will create significant employment and business opportunities in the Hastings area in addition to increasing tourism on the Mornington Peninsula.'

OTAMA, with a North Queensland Aboriginal name meaning 'dolphin', is the last of the famous 'O' boats that served the Royal Australian Navy for more than 30 years. A complement of 63 submariners served at any one time on OTAMA, a 90 metre long vessel with a range of 9000 nautical miles and a submerged speed of 17 knots.

Dr Nelson commended Mr Greg Hunt, Liberal candidate for Flinders, on his tireless efforts to secure OTAMA for Hastings and urged all who wanted to see the economic and social development of the region to now get behind the hard work of preparing for its relocation. 'Who could possibly not support the 40 jobs that will be created by this project?' asked Dr Nelson. 'In a world of unprecedented uncertainty, it is even more important we both understand and respect our past as we face the future. The finest Australian naval traditions stand behind OTAMA. It will now serve Australians for many generations in the custodianship of the people of Hastings', said Dr Nelson.

(Congratulations and good luck guys, now the hard part starts! Bung.)

Much progress has been made since the last report earlier this year. At the moment we are at a bit of a standstill until we receive some official news as to the plans for disposal of Otama. We know that DSTO has some plans for trials using Otama and this will push any acquisition plan left by a year or two but this will not deter us from pushing ahead.

Before listing the milestones to date, I should give another brief overview for those not familiar with the plan.

The project was inspired by a talk between Max Bryant, a third generation Hastings identity, and Biff Mills the Cox'n, his next door neighbour. Max could see that Hastings was slowly dying and needed something to inspire the town and get the community together to boost tourism and employment in the area. They came up with the idea to try and get Orion but this did not happen due to a number of factors, so, not deterred, they opted for Otama.

A committee was formed to tackle the project which subsequently became the Western Port Oberon Association and as you can see, we have a wide range of expertise, not just limited to Submarines.

The Master Plan includes the "Hastings/Cerberus Naval Memorial Park" which will be the overall setting for the project. The ties between Cerberus and Hastings go back 80 years and Cerberus was a one time home for some J class Submarines. It is planned to have two 4.5 inch guns forming an entrance arch with their twin barrels. The park will contain Memorial Walls for Submarines, Naval Ships, and Merchant Marine Service. This park will be part of a Council Master Plan for the foreshore at Hastings which includes picnic areas, the existing marina, angling club and yacht club and a new aquatic centre.

The project includes a "Submarine Interpretation Centre" housing museum displays, interactive submarine displays, conference facilities, 60 seat cinema, gift shop, submarine archive and coffee shop on the upper floor deck overlooking Otama, the bay and the marina.

The submarine will be berthed ashore via a major canal building exercise that will move her inland by approx. 100 to 200 metres from the shoreline. This is a proven method that has been employed in the USA when setting up USS Albacore. The benefits of having her out of the water are pretty obvious including ease of access and maintenance and more flexibility with machinery and vital systems.

A consultant has come up with an exciting layout for entry to the sub from the Interpretation Centre including simulators and realistic Submarine effects. More on those plans in future reports. As you have probably guessed by now, this is envisaged as a multi-million dollar project and we intend to make it a world class facility rivaling anything else in the world.

Some of the major milestones achieved to date include:

Business Plan Completed
Westernport Oberon Association formally Incorporated
Dry Berth Design Finalised
Project Concept Plan incorporated into Council Master Plan
Consultant retained by Council to develop Master Plan into formal document
Formal Meetings held with Council, State Government, Tourism Victoria and Federal Government.
Financial Plan and Six Year Financial Forecast completed and presented to State Govt.
Meetings held with Minister of Defence (Previous and Current) and Parlimentary Secretary of Defence
Full support for project by Bruce Ruxton - Victorian RSL President
Full Support for project by SAA Victoria Branch
Late bid for Otama by Frankston Council overcome
City of Geelong remains only other contender in Victoria
Interpretation Centre plans completed
Interactive Visitor's Centre Concept formulated
Major advertising campaign implemented including press coverage, posters, stickers and video

The above items are just the major milestones completed with hundreds of smaller completed items not included in case I bore the socks off you all.

Suffice to say, it has been two and a half years work by the committee so far and there is no sign of these hard working people slowing up. Hopefully it will all come to fruition.

If you have any questions or would like more info please don't hesitate to call me on 03 59 871318 or email me at:


Phil Solomon
WOA Secretary