AS interested crowds gathered at Dunoon waterfront yesterday (Thursday) to watch an elderly submarine being towed past, little did the people watching realise the story behind the boat.
The former HMS Onyx was on her way to Rosneath to be scrapped, despite attempts to preserve her in Greenock, where many of the Oberon class boats were built.
HMS Onyx was built in 1966, and saw active service in the south Atlantic.
She was the only non-nuclear submarine of the Royal Navy to take part in the 1982 Falklands war (below).
The smaller displacement of Onyx compared to the nuclear submarines made her ideal for landing SAS and SBS troops close to the islands in shallow waters.
HMS Onyx dropped SAS operatives several miles offshore at night for them to make their way to the coast aboard rubber inflatables in order to destroy Argentina's remaining stockpile of Exocet missiles.
Defence cuts saw the Royal Navy dispense with its diesel-powered submarines to concentrate on nuclear attack submarines. In 1991, the Onyx was decommissioned from the navy and cared for by the Warship Preservation Trust, was on public display alongside several other ships in Birkenhead.
In May 2006 HMS Onyx was sold to a Barrow-in-Furness businessman for a reported £117,000 .
She left Birkenhead on June 13, 2006 to form the centrepiece of The Submarine Heritage Centre, a new heritage museum in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, as a celebration to the town's illustrious Submarine-building history.
After the submarine museum went into debt she was taken by a liquidation company as a financial asset, and is now set to be scrapped – unless £300,000 can be raised to keep her intact on the Clyde.
The inside of the submarine is in almost perfect condition and she would make an ideal education resource.
Skelmorlie man Bill Mutter is determined to make that happen – even at this late stage.
Mr Mutter has been trying to bring Onyx back to Greenock for some years as a static exhibition in one of the town’s docks.
Yesterday, Mr Mutter had to suffer the heartache of watching Onyx be towed past the Cloch on its way to the breakers.
There seems to be no money available to purchase the vessel, but Mr Mutter remains hopeful that something can still be done.
He wrote to fellow submariners yesterday saying: “She arrived on the Clyde, and was at the Cloch Light, at 16.00hrs today, towed by the Tug aptly named Bruiser.
“I have to admit I got quite emotional as well as being angry that there seem to be no visionaries around to realise what a valuable asset Onyx would have been to the west of Scotland and Greenock in particular.”
Mr Mutter is still trying to save Onyx, however.
More in Friday’s Standard.
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