We’re nothing if not catholic in our interests here at Facts About Durban. This time it’s the riddle of one [or two] submarines which was [were] scuttled off Durban after WWII. I first became aware that at least one submarine had been scuttled after being sent a link to a picture of HMS Otus. The accompanying blurb said that the vessel had ended her days off Durban but, before I could save the picture, it was removed from the Web.
There things rested until a message from reader Warwick Chapman asking about the submarines HMS Otus and HMS Osiris and quoting from an article which said that both had been scuttled off Durban. Warwick then apparently put out the word on Twitter and received a reply from Sioux McKenna, sister of Grant McKenna who once worked for the museums department of the Ethekwini Municipality. She quoted Grant as follows:
“They were used for training in anti-submarine activities, and were stationed in Durban, which was where the SA Navy training was conducted [Simonstown was a RN base, and wasn’t used for seagoing training of this nature, because enemy submarines were operating there]. There are a couple of photos of HMS Osiris around, either at the Local History Museum or at Killie Campbell – I can’t remember. Otus is a mystery – I never spent time trying to confirm that she was scuttled in Durban, and saw some reports that she was cut up for scrap. Certainly I saw her Asdic board at a shop on Victoria embankment [in Durban. Ed.] in 2002; it was bought by someone on a cruise ship – nice souvenir! Their fuel tanks were prone to leaking when depth-charged, hence the decision not to keep them.”
The Submarine Heritage Centre website confirms that HMS Osiris (launched 1928) was based in Durban and scuttled there, but says she was the only one of the Odin Class submarines to survive the war.
There are many references on this site to vessels being deliberately scuttled, once they had reached their ‘sell by’ date, but I’m still amazed to think there was a time when this practice was more economical than breaking them up for scrap.
Can any reader throw more light on the Osiris/Otus mystery, or contribute a picture or two?Share this: