Monday, November 11, 2013


HMAS Farncomb is currently docked in Hobart as part of a 4-day visit and its crew of 60 Officers and Sailors are representing the Royal Australian Navy at Remembrance Day commemorations here in Hobart today.

Daniel was part of hosting a lunch for the Commanding and Senior Officers last Friday and in return they offered our family a private tour of their Submarine. It's not open to the general public so it was an absolute thrill to have the opportunity to go on board and get a little glimpse of what it's like to live and work inside a Submarine. The Farncomb is a Collins class Submarine, one of 6 in the Australian Navy.

We were taken around by Lieutenant Commander Daniel Sutherland, who is Second-in-Command and he very kindly allowed me to take a few photos, except for the weapons room which is top secret for obvious reasons.

Our first stop was to the Officer's Quarters where we found the lovely Officer Dickman enjoying a quiet moment reading the paper...

...until our whole tribe joined him on the lounge, that is. 

Commander Sutherland told us about some of the Submarine's features. We joked about some of the Submarine movies. I did my best Sean Connery impersonation "Personally, I give us one chance in three". Officer Dickman says they've seen them all -  apparently The Hunt For Red October and u571 are not terribly realistic (really?) despite being excellent films but the German film Das Boot gives a fairly accurate portrayal of Submarine life if you are interested in this type of thing. 

The framed photo on the table above is a picture of an exercise the Submarine was involved in last year in Hawaii where one of its Torpedoes was fired at the former ammunition ship US Kilauea, breaking it into two and sinking her. 

I always imagined Submarines to be tight on space but with 6 Submariners to a room there really is barely enough space to swing a cat.

Some Officers had their 'whites' laid out in preparation for today's Remembrance Day commemorations. 

Onto the Kitchen where 3 cooks prepare meals for 60 people 3 times a day in the tiny space. If you didn't know it was an Australian Submarine, the jar of Vegemite on the shelf is a big giveaway.

The command room is where all the main action happens. We all had a turn looking through and operating the Periscope.

The whole Submarine is driven by that tiny little black joystick below.

The Captain's Chair. 

Behind the Captains Chair is the Charting desk. We were told the Submarine still uses traditional Charts but will soon rely completely on electronics for navigation.

We also got to see the weapons room which was extremely impressive. If you weren't one of the lucky officer's to be in a room with 5 others then you got to sleep under the missiles and torpedoes. And by under, I literally mean your body is about 10cm away from the bottom of these weapons.

It takes a special kind of person to choose to live in these conditions. Aside from the inherent risks of being a member of the armed forces, living in such confined spaces would be difficult, as would the lack of privacy and the general dangers of living in a vessel under water with no quick escape route if things go peared-shape. But most of all, there is also the personal sacrifice that comes from living away from loved ones for long periods of time. I take my hat off to these Officers and Sailors who endure that kind of heartache to provide this amazing service for our country.

Given that today is Remembrance Day, it was an extra special reminder of the personal sacrifices that the Men and Women of our armed forces made in the past and continue to make on a daily basis so that we can enjoy the freedom we do today.

Lest we forget.


  1. What an amazing experience for all of you to go on board a submarine. Those living conditions are really tight, I know I couldn't do it. There are many occupations I know I couldn't do (this being one of them), I'm so grateful to those who do them despite the dangers and sacrifices. x

  2. The kids must have loved it. How kind of them to give you a tour.

    I am far too claustrophobic to sleep on one of those bottom bunks!

  3. what an amazing experience mel, the children look enthralled (they are so cute!) armed forces deserve all the credit in the world, happy remembrance day! i don't think i could have even gone below for the tour, eeps!

  4. I love that you bombed Officer Dickman's quiet time! classic.
    I also think that your hubby and him could be brothers in that shot???
    Lest we forget x

  5. We went on board a submarine at the Maritime Museum.
    There is no way I could live in one. I'm not generally claustrophobic but the idea of no view, no outlook and being below water, well it gave me the heebie jeebies!
    What sweet people to make your gang so welcome :-)

  6. Wow! My teenagers complain about sharing a huge room between two!
    I just noticed your hair is back to it's original colour and looking very pretty and that baby is just thriving!
    What a great adventure!

  7. Wow, what an awesome experience for your gang to have first hand. Gosh those rooms are cramped, I can't imagine living in there for extended periods of time. mel x

  8. What an incredible experience! and I had no idea their tight quarters are that tight!!!

  9. Oh what an amazing experience! I bet the boys LOVED it!!!

    1. They have been on Cloud 9 ever since and have worn their caps to bed every single night :-)

  10. A great post for remembrance day, to remind us all of those who are still serving their country to protect the rest of us, may we never forget.

  11. What a great day out ... I'm sure you all loved it ... a great experience ... Bee xx

  12. My older boys would have loved that, what a special treat. And like you say, very apt on Remembrance weekend. I love the colourful duvet cover on one of the bunks.
    And lovely to see some photos of you all together.

    Leanne xx

  13. What a unique opportunity for your family! My guess is your kids will be still talking about "the time they got to go on the submarine" when they are old and grey. I have to say, it made me a bit queasy to look at the picture of the sleeping quarters. Clearly anyone with claustrophobia wouldn't choose to serve on a sub!

  14. What an amazing opportunity for the whole family. I am sure this is something that you will all remember for the rest of your days. I am so pleased I never have to sleep in one of these, not sure I would cope! xoxo

  15. Wow, that was pretty cool. Thank you for sharing your tour with us!

  16. Wow! This was an amazing tour Mel! It seems to me that Officer Dickman's smile dipped a little after you all moved into his nook ;) Your kids must have been thrilled to have gone through this submarine for a private tour. Love the skull & crossbones blanket on that bed. I admire anyone who is in the armed forces, but you're right, it must take a very tolerant person to live in those tiny quarters under water & far from home. A fitting tour for today's memorial services. Wendy x

  17. Goodness Mel, what larks! Seriously, you're right, it takes a very special kind of person to take on life at sea, let alone life under it.

    Fab post m'dear :)

  18. How exciting and what a brilliant opportunity for your kids to see something like this first hand. I can't get over how cramped it is! John would love this - he is obsessed with Das Boot. But yes, hats off indeed to those amazing people who serve on these vessels, they have my respect. x

  19. What an incredible opportunity. That'll be something the kids won't forget. Amazing people Submariners. I couldn't handle the confinement. Weren't they generous letting you take photos?

  20. What a very cool family adventure! and those cabins! Wowzer! (I should show that picture to my eldest son so he can appreciate just how spacious his own cupboard/bedroom is!)

  21. Mel your kids must have been jumping up and down with excitement being on the submarine. What an awesome experience :-)
    As for those bunks, damn that would be so squishy to sleep in....bags the top one!

  22. That's so interesting, and every little kid's dream surely?
    So many wonderful things, the tiny kitchen, tiny bedroom and big captains chair!
    Hats off to them all.and their families who don't see them for weeks or months on end.

  23. What a fun experience for you all to see and hear about the working of a real life submarine. Such cramped living conditions!!