J1 Deep Submarine

Wreck DiveWreck Dive | Boat access

Deep Rated Outside Port Phillip Wreck Dive Site

Diesel Electric Submarine | Max Depth: 38 metres (125 feet) — Graveyard

J1 Submarine
J1 Submarine
© Unknown

The J1 Submarine (aka Deep Sub, J1 Sub, 38 Metre Sub, 125 Foot Sub, or New Deep Sub) is part of our very own piece of WWI maritime history and an exciting deep adventure for scuba divers. Scuttled in 1926, she was rediscovered in October 1984 by MAAV members Frank Derksen, Marteen Vanetie and another diver.

The wreck of the J1 Submarine is located in the ship graveyard, Bass Strait. The hull lies almost upright with a slight list to port (left) in 38 metres (125 feet) with the conning tower rising to 34 metres (112 feet). She lies northeast to southwest (bow northeast) and is covered in bright yellow zoanthids with a lot of fish life up the top and around the conning tower.

Diving the J1 Submarine

The J1 submarine allows penetration by divers, and there is plenty to explore on the inside. The hatch next to the conning tower is the way in for suitably qualified divers. The J1 sub sits on an angle so it can be confusing if you silt the place up and are trying to get out. People have died here!

The first compartment is reasonably open and light still gets through. Towards the bow it gets pretty dark, so a powerful torch is required.

This dive site is subject to shipping, and a Deep 40m certification is required.

J1 Submarine Wreck from Alan Beckhurst on Vimeo.

J1 Submarine History

J1 Submarine bow, Victoria, Australia
J1 Submarine bow, Victoria
© Mary Malloy & Alan Beckhurst

Originally HMS J1, later HMAS J1, this is one of the J class submarines designed and built during WW1 by the British Royal Navy. HMS J1 commissioned in the Royal Navy on 15 March 1916. The wartime complement was 5 officers and 40 sailors.

The six British built J class submarines had served for a short time with the Royal Navy's 11th Submarine Flotilla, and although they proved to be the fastest submarines of their time, they were unreliable.

The J1 submarine was the only submarine to have crippled capital ships with a single salvo. She was also fitted with depth charges and was the only submarine to ever sink another sub with depth charges.

J1, J4, J2 alongside HMAS Platypus, circa 1920 
J1, J4, J2 alongside HMAS Platypus,
circa 1920
© Royal Australian Navy

At the completion of the first World War in 1919, the British Government gave Australia a gift of the remaining six J class submarines, pus six navy destroyers. All the submarines were commissioned into the Royal Australian Navy at Portsmouth on 25 March 1919. The six submarines departed Portsmouth on 9 April 1919, arriving in Sydney on 10 July 1919 where they underwent a very necessary refit.

After uneventful service in Australia, little of which was spent at sea, J1 and her five sisters were paid off into Reserve at Westernport on 12 July 1922. The boats had become victims of the worsening economic conditions of the time, coupled with their high cost of maintenance.

J1 was sold to the Melbourne Salvage Company on 26th February 1924. After stripping anything that proved valuable, she was scuttled off Barwon Heads on 26th May 1926.

J1 Submarine Details

J1 in Australian waters, circa 1920
J1 Submarine
in Australian waters,
circa 1920
© Royal Australian Navy

Built at the Portsmouth Naval Dockyard, England and launched on 6 November 1915 as a double hulled type, triple screw submarine. The overall length of the vessel was approximately 83.7 metres (275 feet), beam 7.2 metres (24 feet) and draught 4.3 metres (14 feet) giving a displacement weight of 1,210 tonne (1,334 short tons) surfaced and 1,820 tonne (2,006 short tons) submerged.

Top speed was 19 knots (35 km/h; 22 mph) on the surface, and 9.5 knots (17.6 km/h; 10.9 mph) underwater. Range was 4,000 nautical miles (7,400 km; 4,600 mi) at 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph). Propulsion was via three 12 cylinder Vickers, solid injection, direct reversing, 4 cycle diesel engines, 1200 HP at 380 RPM, while surfaced. Two Mather and Platt, 1400 HP electric motors powered by four banks of 58 cell batteries, when submerged.

The J1 submarine was armed with one 4-inch deck gun, plus six 18 inch (450 mm) torpedo tubes — four forward, and one on each beam. She was also fitted with an arrangement for discharging depth charges or mines.

Four subs, J1, J2, J4, and J5, were scuttled in the ship graveyard. Two were scuttled as breakwaters: J3 near Swan Island, and J7 at Sandringham Yacht Club.

See also Wikipedia: HMS J1,
Australian National Shipwreck Database: J-1 Submarine
Heritage Council Victoria: J-1 Submarine, and
Royal Australian Navy: HMAS J1.

Findling the J1 Submarine

Over the years we've been provided with different GPS marks for the J1 Submarine. The GPS marks we know of in circulation for the J1 Submarine are:

  • Victoria's Ships' Graveyard:
    Latitude: 38° 18.959′ S   (38.315988° S / 38° 18′ 57.56″ S)
    Longitude: 144° 33.219′ E   (144.553648° E / 144° 33′ 13.13″ E)
  • Dive Victoria:
    Latitude: 38° 18.958′ S   (38.31596667° S / 38° 18′ 57.48″ S)
    Longitude: 144° 33.220′ E   (144.55366667° E / 144° 33′ 13.2″ E)
  • Alan Beckhurst:
    Latitude: 38° 18.967′ S   (38.31611667° S / 38° 18′ 58.02″ S)
    Longitude: 144° 33.239′ E   (144.55398333° E / 144° 33′ 14.34″ E)

Latitude: 38° 18.959′ S   (38.315988° S / 38° 18′ 57.56″ S)
Longitude: 144° 33.219′ E   (144.553648° E / 144° 33′ 13.13″ E)

Datum: WGS84 | Google Map
Added: 2012-07-22 01:00:00 GMT, Last updated: 2019-05-09 01:48:44 GMT
Source: Book - Victoria's Ships' Graveyard GPS (verified)
Nearest Neighbour: New Deep Bommie, 1,157 m, bearing 101°, E
J-Class Submarine, 1820 ton.
Built: Portsmouth, UK, 1915/1916.
Scuttled: 26 May 1926.
Depth: 31 to 38 m.

DISCLAIMER: No claim is made by The Scuba Doctor as to the accuracy of the dive site coordinates listed here. Should anyone decide to use these GPS marks to locate and dive on a site, they do so entirely at their own risk. Always verify against other sources.

The marks come from numerous sources including commercial operators, independent dive clubs, reference works, and active divers. Some are known to be accurate, while others may not be. Some GPS marks may even have come from maps using the AGD66 datum, and thus may need be converted to the WGS84 datum. To distinguish between the possible accuracy of the dive site marks, we've tried to give each mark a source of GPS, Google Earth, or unknown.

Suunto EON Core at The Scuba Doctor Dive Shop

I don't need therapy. Just bring me to deep blue sea.
— Old diver's proverb