As part of ASPECT Studio’s ongoing work with the restoration and reopening of the former HMAS Platypus site in Neutral Bay on Sydney Harbour, Urban&Public were invited to design a subtle yet integrated marker and memorial to the submariners and six Oberon class vessels that were based there.
The new Submariners’ Memorial at HMAS Platypus on Neutral Bay was officially dedicated at a moving remembrance ceremony on Friday 18 August 2017 marking the 50th anniversary of the site's commissioning in 1967.
Special guests at the ceremony included the Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Marise Payne; Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Tim Barrett AO CSC RAN, Mr Kevin McCann AM, Chairman of Sydney Harbour Federation Trust; Commodore Mark Sander RAN (retired), President of the Submarine Institute of Australia.
The memorial commemorates the service and seamen of the six Australian Oberon Class Submarines that were based on the site from 1967 to 1999. The idea for the memorial was conceived by Submarines Association Australia and the Submarine Institute of Australia — designed by Urban&Public team for the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust, the custodians of the site.
The centerpiece of the project is the restored submarine anchor from HMAS Oxley, the first of the six Oberon-class subs to be based at the site from 1967. When the Oxley was decommissioned, her anchor was retained for this future purpose, and has now been installed on a circular precast concrete base in a quiet reflective area of the site. Affixed to the memorial are three new plaques recognising the years of operation of HMAS Platypus and the three sailors lost whilst serving on Oberon submarines. 'Silent Service', the motto of the Submarine Squadron is fixed to the wall beneath the memorial. An official wreath laying ceremony was included on the day with the Minister, family members and other dignitaries paying respects.
“We took advantage of the nearby existing concrete steps, sandblasting the names of all six submarines into the risers,” explains Urban&Public’s Simeon King. “So the names Oxley, Otway, Ovens, Onslow, Orion and Otama are now permanently etched into the site in a fittingly industrial way.”
Although the memorial is a solemn reminder of three lives lost, it also signifies the imminent rebirth of the HMAS Platypus site. Sydney Harbour Federation Trust commissioned the memorial as part of its long term transformation of the site from a gas works, torpedo factory and naval base to a contemporary waterfront urban park. The memorial unveiling is a significant project milestone and signals the start of the building and public space renewal works, after seven years of site remediation and community consultation.
When HMAS Platypus was decommissioned in 1999, the submarine base and workshop were relocated to HMAS Stirling in Western Australia, along with the bronze ‘Platypus’ on a granite rock, that had been the site mascot since the base first opened in 1967. It is a hope that the platypus will return home in the not too distant future.
Memorial, Plaques, Interpretation and Event Booklet: Urban&Public
Head Contractor: Fleetwood Urban
Precast Concrete: 2barrows
Plaques: Architectural Signs
Sandblasting: Quick Blast Mobile Sandblasting
Anchor Restoration: Thales Australia
Photographs: Guy Wilkinson
Related submarine project:
Action Stations, ANMM
Client // Sydney Harbour Federation Trust, Submarines Association Australia, Submarine Institute of Australia
Year // 2017