- Piggott, Lieut. Cdr. F.M., RD, MNI, RNR. Rtd.,
- Biographies and personal histories, Ship design and development, History - WW2
- RAN Ships
- HMAS K9
- March 1987 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
Familiarisation was the key to our success in repairing and then working up this old submarine to the necessary high standard. First class co-operation from all the Sydney dockyards personnel, coupled with the experience of my Chief ERA and Chief TGM and supporting crew, soon had the refitting efficiently on the move. Wherever possible K9’s crew helped the dockyard hands, sometimes with both technical and construction work, and gratefully they never declared us black. However, the ‘Canine’, so nicknamed by my crew because in dry dock she looked like a pregnant bitch, aptly continued to have unexpected problems. These difficulties seriously slowed down progress and the re-birth.
Actually, I had to redesign and have constructed a complete new bridgework along with suitable submarine towing apparatus. Delays caused high level dissatisfaction and at one stage I was called to the office of the Chief of Staff and very impatiently ordered to have K9 ready for sea or face a Court Martial! However, next day apologies were made by the Chief of Staff who came aboard the K9. Work continued and in due course I was able to give my crew a week’s training in dry diving, then a not too successful trial dive in the Rose Bay area. Apart from the date being the 13th of the month, I was unable to get the submarine to completely submerge, as she was too light and the area too restricted. Also, she was dry, having been above the surface for such a long period.
With these problems resolved we then did a one week’s diving trial in Jervis Bay with HMAS Kybra as escort. More troubles and back to Sydney for alterations and improvements. This regrettably continued to be the routine, although we did some useful exercises with frigates and Australian minesweepers while K9 was attached to HMAS Rushcutter. Included in these activities was an arrangement with the RAAF to make a film of K9 at sea, diving, altering speed while submerged with periscope up, surfacing and manoeuvring. A similar exercise was carried out off Broken Bay with helicopters and Beauforts.
A main battery explosion finally decided the fate of K9. Further risks in such a submarine were not warranted and, in June 1944, I joined Adamant in Colombo. This gave me patrol experience in the Malay area and then I transferred, in August, to Tally Ho. After patrol, in which we sank a 300-ton coaster and three junks with shellfire, our return to Trincomalee saw me posted to Bombay to take command of Rover and again the job of rebuilding an older submarine. I had become a real DOCKYARD MATEY!