Collins Class Submarines

The six submarines in this class are all named after distinguished men who served in the Royal Australian Navy. In the case of Ordinary Seaman Teddy Sheean It is the first time a naval rating has been honoured by naming a
ship after him.

This class of submarine has however been beset with problems from their inception, and the RAN struggles to find enough Submariners to crew all six of the Collins Class.

The current Federal Government is looking at building another twelve Submarines to replace the Collins boats, if the Navy has problems with crewing six submarines, it seems that it is faced with a real dilemma when it has to find crews for twelve future Submarines.

HMAS Collins
Launched: 28 August 1993
Commissioned: 27 July 1996
The submarine is named after Vice Admiral Sir John Augustine Collins KBE CB RAN. During his tenure as Captain of HMAS Sydney (II) in World War II, Collins lead his men to victory in the Mediterranean against a formidable enemy, sinking an Italian destroyer and two cruisers in 1940. In June 1944, in recognition of his valuable service, he was made a Commodore 1st Class and appointed Commander of the Australian Squadron.

On 21 October 1944, while taking part in landings in the Philippines, his flagship - HMAS Australia - was attacked by Japanese suicide aircraft which struck and critically damaged the bridge. Collins was severely injured in this attack and was evacuated back to Australia.

In 1947 Collins was promoted to the rank of Rear Admiral, becoming one of the first graduates of the Royal Australian Naval College to attain flag rank. In February 1948 he assumed the appointment of First Naval Member of the Australian Commonwealth Naval Board and Chief of Naval Staff, a post which he retained for a record seven years until he retired on 23 February 1955.

HMAS Farncomb
Launched: 15 December 1995
Commissioned: 31 January 1998
The submarine is named after Rear Admiral Harold B Farncomb CB DSO MVO RAN who distinguished himself in action during World War II.

He commanded HMAS Canberra in 1941 when the ship forced two German raider support ships to scuttle while on Indian Ocean patrol. Later, aboard HMAS Australia, he saw action in the Coral Sea, Guadalcanal, the East Solomons, Arawe and Cape Gloucester.

He assumed temporary command of His Majesty's Australian Squadron when Commodore Collins was wounded aboard HMAS Australia at Leyte in 1944. He commanded the Squadron in operations at Corregidor, Brunei and Balikpapan.

Note: I was serving in HMAS Canberra and was Officer of the Watch on her bridge when she sunk at the Battle of Savo Island on August 9, 1942.

HMAS Waller
Launched: 14 March 1997
Commissioned: 10 July 1999
The submarine is named after Captain Hector Waller DSO and Bar who, in 1942, was Commander of the cruiser HMAS Perth that was part of a combined Allied force when it was ambushed by the Japanese. All except HMAS Perth and USS Houston were sunk.

Later, the two ships were intercepted by a Japanese invasion fleet escorted by two cruisers and 12 destroyers. Enormous damage was inflicted on the Japanese fleet.

Waller ordered HMAS Perth be abandoned as the Japanese closed in. HMAS Perth was sunk with her captain, but not before he had fired two torpedoes at the convoy. USS Houston was sunk shortly afterwards.

HMAS Dechaineux
Launched: 12 March 1998
Commissioned: 23 February 2001
The submarine is named after Captain Emile Dechaineux, the Commanding Officer of HMAS Australia during the latter stages of World War II.

On the morning of 21 October 1944, Australia was part of a bombardment force supporting the Allied landing at Leyte in the Central Philippines. During the battle, a Japanese dive-bomber was engaged and hit by HMAS Australia and HMAS Shropshire. At first, the aircraft appeared to fly away from the ships, but it subsequently turned and dived into HMAS Australia, hitting the foremast and causing a large explosion and intense fuel fire.

Captain Dechaineux died of wounds received in the attack and was subsequently awarded the Legion of Merit (Degree of Officer) by the United States Government.

HMAS Sheean
Launched: 1 May 1999
Commissioned: 23 February 2001

The submarine is named after Ordinary Seaman Teddy Sheean, who was lost when HMAS Armidale was sunk on 1 December 1942 off the Timorese coast.

HMAS Armidale had survived two days of bombing before being struck by a Japanese aerial torpedo. During the action Ordinary Seaman Sheean was wounded and, rather than abandoning ship with the rest of his shipmates, he strapped himself to the aft Oerlikon Gun and continued to fire at the attacking Japanese aircraft until HMAS Armidale sank.

Sheean was mentioned in dispatches for his bravery.

HMAS Sheean is the only Australian naval vessel to be named after a sailor and the submarine continues to maintain strong ties with Ordinary Seaman Sheean's hometown of Latrobe, Tasmania.
HMAS Rankin
Launched: 7 November 2001
Commissioned: 29 March 2003
The submarine is named after Lieutenant-Commander Robert William 'Oscar' Rankin who distinguished himself in action in World War II.

He commanded the sloop HMAS Yarra and was conducting convoy escort duties in the Northern Indian Ocean when attacked by a Japanese force in February 1942  Facing a far superior force of three heavy cruisers and two destroyers, Rankin gallantly positioned his ship between the Japanese and the scattering convoy vessels. After an intense exchange, he was killed when an eight-inch salvo hit the bridge shortly after passing the order to
abandon ship.

The motto ‘Defend The Weak’ is testimony to Robert Rankin and HMAS Yarra's determination to defend the unarmed convoy ships.


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