For some time a group of local people and organisations have been speaking together with the joint desire of bringing the Falklands War veteran submarine HMS Onyx to Greenock as a new tourist attraction.
The Onyx, an Oberon class diesel electric submarine, is the last of its kind available; it was built in Cammell Laird’s shipyards in Birkenhead and is the same class as the eleven Oberon submarines built by Scott’s shipbuilders over the period 1962-1978.
A study was commissioned to determine the likely economic impact of having such a tourist attraction of this type and the results of this study suggest that the number of visitor numbers required could be feasible. The group require to put a deposit of around £35,000 to secure the submarine which otherwise will be broken up for scrap by its present owners. The submarine has been recently towed to Roseneath just 4 miles across the Clyde from Greenock, by its present owners for this purpose.
This comes at a time when millions of pounds are being sought to create a new submarine museum in Helensburgh, although no submarines were ever built there, and the opening to the public of the refurbished, at a cost of £7 million, World War II submarine HMS Alliance in Gosport, Portsmouth also as a tourist attraction.
Amongst those involved in the project are the tourism group Discover Inverclyde, former Scotts’ ship draughtsman George Byng, Bill Mutter, a former Oberon submarine subcontractor and Inverclyde Councillor Ciano Rebecchi. ‘A submarine here as a new tourist attraction has been mooted for many years’, said Discover Inverclyde Director Chris Jewell, ‘and it certainly would add to the attractions we have to offer in Inverclyde, assuming viability.’
‘It would be a dreadful shame if the last submarine of this type was lost to the public’ said Ciano Rebecchi. ‘We are aware of considerable historical interest in this submarine and we hope that funds can be sourced quickly to save it and that it would be a viable tourist attraction year for many years to come.’
‘We really believe the submarine would commemorate Inverclyde’s part in the submarine heritage of the Royal Navy and other countries’ navies such as Australia and Chile’, added George.
The group has already received a lot of support from ex Submariners and Naval Associations and offers of help to bring the submarine up to display standard should it be acquired. The team are hopeful that the logistics of installing the submarine in a suitable location can be worked out successfully and the funding secured.
The Dry dock in Greenock has been mooted as a suitable location for the submarine; there would need to be work carried out to make this a suitable home.
Anyone interested in this project is encouraged to get in touch by telephone to Bill Mutter on 07944 170 574 or by email to the group by emailing Billmut@aol.com