HMS Ocelot, Kent

HMS Ocelot is an Oberon class attack submarine (or SSK), pennant number S17. Although similar in many respects, the Oberon class replaced the Porpoise class submarines at the beginning of the 1960s when the cold war with the Soviet Union was at its most tense.

HMS Ocelot was laid down at the HM dockyard in Chatham on 17th November 1960 and was launched on 5th May 1962. HMS Ocelot is 295ft (89.4m) in length, with a beam of 26.5ft (8m), and a draft of 18ft (5.5m). The class was quite unique as the casing was constructed of glass fibre and alloy, the first time a plastic had been used in submarine construction. HMS Ocelot could attain 17 knots submerged and 13 knots surfaced and was powered by two admiralty 16VVs - ASR1 diesel engines producing 3680bhp surfaced, and two electric motors producing 6000 shp submerged. These silent electric engines made HMS Ocelot perfect for secret missions and although very little has ever been released as to her naval service, it is known that in the first three years of her commission she sailed over 90,000 miles.

HMS Ocelot's armament comprised 8 x 21 inch (525mm) torpedo tubes, 6 forward and 2 aft with 24 reloads and she carried a compliment of 6 officers and 62 hands. In the 1980s HMS Ocelot was given the capability of firing the Tigerfish torpedo as well as the Sub-Harpoon missile. During their time Oberon class submarines were considered as one of the finest in existence and many were sold to overseas navies, including Australia and Canada. Thirteen of the class were built for the Royal Navy between 1961 and 1967.

HMS Ocelot was finally sold for scrap in 1992 but was saved from the breaker's yard by the dockyard that built her. The HM dockyard Chatham, now known as the Chatham Historic Dockyard, purchased her as one of their static displays alongside HMS Cavalier and HMS Gannet. The dockyard provides guided tours around HMS Ocelot, which are a fascinating experience not only giving the visitor a chance to see the interior of one Navy's most elusive weapons of war, but also giving the visitor an insight into the cramped and claustrophobic conditions that the 68 man crew would have had to endure.


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