Gary Oakley - How a submarine works

Running time
2 min 7 sec
Date made
Place made
Department of Veterans' Affairs


you've got a diving panel and on the diving panel, it's a 24-volt system if I can remember, and what it does is, your submarine works basically on the upturned boat principle, you turn your bloody tinny upside down or whatever, it'll float because it's got air underneath it.

So that's how a submarine works, you've got a water pressure tight tube in the centre where you live, and then you've got the outside tanks, tanks are open to the sea at the bottom, and then on the tops of them they've got valves and these valves are controlled from the panel. And if you push one of these panel buttons, you can open and shut those valves. So, that's how you dive.

If you open them all, they open, air rushes out, boat sinks. That's pretty basic, how it works. So, when you shut off from diving, what you’ve got to do then is you go around to where all these valves are in the boat, and you key them off, you lock them all off so that someone doesn't just push the bloody buttons mucking around or something and you dive, so it basically shuts it off so physically, mechanically, they cannot operate.

Once you do that, you surface sail and then and then your watches get longer because you go into different watch system and usually if you're transiting somewhere like to going to RIMPAC, it takes nine days, about nine days to get to Hawaii to RIMPAC.

So, basically what happens then is there's only probably a half a dozen people are watching inside the boat, there's officer the watch and seamen up in the fin, everybody else is just laying on the casing and you have a barbecue every day and barbies and stuff, go swimming and whatever.

And that's when you shut down from diving so you don't dive anymore.[So that trip out to Hawaii, do you…] Always travel on the surface if you can because it's the quickest way to get there. Underwater is not as fast and you burn up your battery.

Was this page helpful?
We can't respond to comments or queries via this form. Please contact us with your query instead.