Minister for Defence - Celebrating 100 years of Australian submarines

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Senator the Hon David Johnston

Minister for Defence

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7 February 2014

Celebrations to mark the centenary of Australian submarines were officially launched today by Defence Minister Senator David Johnston in Darling Harbour.

Senator Johnston said submarines and submariners had played a vital role in Australia’s naval history since the arrival of our first two submarines AE1 and AE2 in 1914, just three months before the outbreak of WW1.

“Over the past 100 years there have been five generations of submarines, from our first two ordered from Britain to the hugely successful Oberon class in the 1960s and 1970s followed by the first submarines built in Australia - the Collins class,” Senator Johnston said.

“There is no secret the Collins program was not without its challenges but we have learnt a great deal from that experience.”

Senator Johnston said it was important to remember the Royal Australian Navy was among the world’s first to integrate female officers and sailors onboard submarines.

“Women submariners have been integral to the submarine service for more than 15 years and now make up around ten per cent of the arm ranking from Able Seaman to Lieutenant Commander.”

Senator Johnston said the Government was committed to ensuring Australia retained a regionally superior conventional submarine capability after the Collins Class submarines are withdrawn from service.

“At the beginning of the next chapter of our submarine capability we are ready to put in practice all we’ve learnt in the past 100 years.”

After the launch the Minister joined children from St Francis of Assisi school to write messages of hope in bottles which they hung on the submarine HMAS Onslow at the National Maritime Museum at Darling Harbour.

A range of events has been announced to recognise and celebrate Australia’s submarine centenary including the commemoration of the nation’s first submarine loss – the AE1, sunk with all hands in May 1914 off the coast on Papua New Guinea.


Imagery of the event is available at:
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Media contacts:
Mark Dodd (Minister Johnston’s Office): 0477 389 560
Rebecca Horton (Minister Johnston’s Office): 0477 389 554
Defence Media Operations: (02) 6127 1999

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