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J Class Submarines in the RAN

Wed 19 Apr, 10:30 am - 12:30 pm

Zoom Presentation,


From the time the Royal Navy’s first Holland Class submarines were built and entered service around 1903, submarine design and construction evolved at a remarkable pace, with various classes of boats produced prior to World War I.

This presentation will describe the emergence of the sleek, potent, and fast J-Class Submarines, which were built in the UK during World War I.  It will briefly mention their service in the Royal Navy, before all six were gifted to Australia in 1919 and made their way with a new depot ship to Australia, under the watchful eye of a wartime submarine Victoria Cross winner.

Their arrival thus saw a continuation of the RAN’s submarine capability that was interrupted with the loss of submarines AE1 in 1914 and AE2 in 1915.

The account will cover the maintenance challenges the J-Class faced on arrival in Sydney, and their subsequent transfer to a new flotilla headquarters selected at Corio Bay in Geelong, Victoria.  It will outline their brief seagoing training activities on the Australian coast before they fell victim to heavy Defence budgetary cuts in the post-war period, which ultimately led to their scrapping and scuttling at various sites in the Port Phillip area.

They are arguably now Victoria’s submarines!

Presenter – Andrew Mackinnon

Andrew joined the Royal Australian Naval College in 1963 and served in a variety of exciting Seaman Officer command and management roles and spent 38 varied and rewarding years in uniform at sea and ashore, including command of the patrol boat HMAS Wollongong and Navy’s shore establishments at HMAS Cairns and HMAS Coonawarra, and later as Defence Adviser in New Zealand.

He is a former Anti-Submarine Warfare specialist officer.  In 2001 he joined the Australian Public Service and served a further 17 years in Navy Headquarters, as the Director Navy Infrastructure Plans. For the next 16 years he worked as the Director of Navy Infrastructure Plans in Navy Headquarters in Canberra.  After settling in Melbourne in 2017, he took the opportunity to broaden his interest in naval history by joining the Naval Historical Society of Australia, and in early 2021 he became the President of the Victoria Chapter. He has helped articulate the naval community’s interests in preserving Osborne House (the site of the first RAN College in 1913-14) and the associated Maritime Museum Collection in Geelong and hopes to assist in rationalising the content and display of naval museum assets held in Victoria.


 Please join us 

J Class Submarines in the RAN

Zoom Presentation: 11:00am. Wednesday, 19th. April 2023  (Sydney Time)

Click on the Link



Wed 19 Apr
10:30 am - 12:30 pm
Event Category:


Zoom Presentation