R Class Submarines
Note: drawing contains some parts and lower hull details taken from Shipbucket.com)

Ship Characteristics

Dimensions Length 275 ft
Beam 63 ft
Draft 23.0 ft
Displacement (Surfaced) 4,000 tons
Displacement (Submerged 4,500 tons
Performance Speed (surfaced) 23 knots
Speed (submerged) 20 knots
Armament Torpedoes 6 22.4 inch.
Missiles 10 Kurrawong


The R class submarines marked a major change in the general outline of Australian submarine design. Although they kept the same operational concept as the earlier submarines, with a high surfaced speed relative to other nations submarines, they had an entirely different planform. They were double-hulled boats witha large cylindrical pressure hull flanked by ten elevating tubes for Taipan cruise missiles. These could be either nuclear or conventionally armed and were usable either as anti-ship or as land-attack weapons. The pressure hull and side launch tubes were encased in an oval outer pressure hull. This gave the submarine a wide, flat deck that allowed her crew to work on deck while the submarine was operating at speed on the surface. This latter characteristic proved of great value during Rotorua's famous rescue of shot-down aviators following the Second Battle of the Falkland Islands on April 29, 1982. The submarines were twin-screwed with each screw being set far from the ship's centerline in order to reduce blade beat from the sail. A large "beaver tail" hydroplane was set between the screws. With this plus her four hydroplanes, the R class were able to drive themselves underwater in a surprisingly short time for such large boats.

The submarines were armed with six 22.4 inch torpedo tubes in addition to theri missile tubes and could carry up to 36 weapons in their torpedo rooms.

Rotorua herself was slightly different from the other four submarines of the R class batch I in that she was reorganized internally to provide an enhanced electronics information gathering center.

The R class batch II were all experimental boats, designed to test varying items of equipment that collectively would become standard on the S-class. Ravenswood was equipped with pump jets in place of the standard seven-bladed propellers used on the batch 1 boats. Ross was equipped with Krieslauf-cycle air independent diesels supplied by oxygen tanks installed between the pressure hull and outer casing. As a result. Ross was ten feet longer than her sister ships. Redhill was equipped with a series of new non-acoustic sensors and was also used to evaluate a series of air defense weapons including a sail-launched missile system and a retractable 30mm gun.

The R class proved successful on the export market with four being sold to Chile and four to South Africa. A proposed sale of two to Thailand did not take place, that country opting to purchase four of the newer but much more expensive S class instead.

Class Members

Number Name Ordered Laid Down Launched Commissioned Fate
R-15 Richmond 1966 1966 1968 1969 Decommissioned and scrapped 1994
R-16 Royal 1967 1967 1969 1970 Decommissioned and scrapped 1995
R-17 Raglan 1968 1968 1970 1971 Decommissioned and scrapped 1996
R-18 Rotorua 1969 1969 1971 1972 Decommissioned and scrapped 1997
R-19 Ravenswood 1970 1970 1972 1974 Decommissioned and scrapped 1997
R-20 Ross 1971 1971 1973 1975 Decommissioned and scrapped 1998
R-21 Redhill 1971 1971 1974 1976 Decommissioned and scrapped 1999
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