Monthly Archives: May 2014

UK – Look inside a nuclear submarine during dockyard open days

HMS Courageous

HMS Courageous

THE GENERAL public will have the chance to see inside a nuclear submarine during two dockyard open days.

Devonport naval base will throw open its doors this Sunday from 10am to 5pm and on May 26 during the same hours.

Commodore Graeme Little, the commanding officer of the base, has agreed to the base being opened to the public in support of Plymouth’s History Festival.

The days are being run by Friend and Volunteers of Devonport Naval Heritage Centre.

As well as having a tour of a decommissioned submarine, HMS Courageous, the public can also visit the model ship gallery, take a look at the ships figureheads, visit the police museum, look around Gilroy House (the former home of the senior police officer) and enjoy fascinating talks throughout the day.

One of the talks will be given by Peter Holt form the SHIPS (Shipwrecks and History In Plymouth Sound) project.

Bob Cook, from the naval museum, said: “Everyone is welcome to come along. HMS Courageous is set out for visitors but you have to be fit enough to go in and out of the tubes, like going down a manhole, so as long as you don’t have a heart condition, vertico, claustrophobia or are heavily pregnant, you’re more than welcome – but wear trousers.

“We will have a formal opening by the Lord Mayor and we are hoping the commodore will come along too.”

A programme of events will be available on both days to boost museum funds.

Anyone going should head to the Naval Base Heritage Museum off Granby Way (postcode PL1 4HG). Car parking is available.

For more details contact 01752 554200


Advertisements

Sailing into the history books: the Navy’s first women submariners: Trio complete months of training to earn their ‘Dolphins’


  • First females in the 110-year history of the Navy’s Submarine Service
  • Ban on women serving in submarines lifted in December 2011
  • During training the three women conducted operations on nuclear-powered Vanguard-class submarine HMS Vigilant
  • ‘Dolphin’ is the name give to the clasp worn by qualified submariners

Three women have made history by becoming the first female submariners to serve in the Royal Navy.

Lieutenants Maxine Stiles, Alexandra Olsson and Penny Thackray have completed months of specialised training to earn their ‘Dolphins’ – the clasp worn by qualified submariners – becoming the first women in the 110-year history of the Navy’s Submarine Service.

For years women were unable to serve on submarines because of possible health risks but, after an independent review found that only pregnant women should not serve, Philip Hammond, the defence secretary, lifted the ban in December 2011.

Lieutenants Maxine Stiles, Alexandra Olsson and Penny Thackray (left-right) have made history by becoming the first female submariners to serve in the Royal Navy

Lieutenants Maxine Stiles, Alexandra Olsson and Penny Thackray (left-right) have made history by becoming the first female submariners to serve in the Royal Navy

Today, Mr Hammond said: ‘This is not only a huge personal achievement for these three outstanding officers, as they take up their new roles supporting the ultimate safeguard of our national security, but also an historic moment for the Royal Navy and our armed forces.’

Following the arrival of woman officers, female ratings (non-commissioned personnel) will start training later this year with a view to serving on Vanguard submarines in 2015.

Female personnel will also be able to serve on Astute-class submarines from around 2016.

Ring ring goes the bell: After 110 years of the Silent Service, pioneering Lieutenants Maxine Stiles, Alex Olsson and Penny Thackray have become the first women to serve onboard a Vanguard class submarine

Ring ring goes the bell: After 110 years of the Silent Service, pioneering Lieutenants Maxine Stiles, Alex Olsson and Penny Thackray have become the first women to serve onboard a Vanguard class submarine

During their training, previously only undertaken by men, the three women officers conducted operations on nuclear-powered Vanguard-class submarine HMS Vigilant, passing their rigorous final exams with flying colours, and will now embark on careers in the Submarine Service.

Lt Stiles, from Ashton-under-Lyne, Greater Manchester, said: ‘I wanted to be able to say that I had made the most of every opportunity that I had been given in the Navy.

‘It’s very intense and very challenging but that’s what makes it so rewarding. At the end of it, when you get your Dolphins and are accepted into the submarine community, it’s great.’

Describing the reception from the 165 male members of the 168-member crew, the 29-year-old, who has been in the Navy for four years, said: ‘As long as you can do your job and you’re good at what you do, I don’t think they cared whether you were male or female.’

HMS Vigilant's (pictured) commanding officer Commander Matt Dennis, who oversaw the training, said: 'I was impressed with how seamlessly the three women integrated on board'

HMS Vigilant’s (pictured) commanding officer Commander Matt Dennis, who oversaw the training, said: ‘I was impressed with how seamlessly the three women integrated on board’

A life under the ocean wave: Lieutenants Maxine Stiles, Alexandra Olsson and Penny Thackray (left-right) have completed months of specialised training to earn their 'Dolphins' - the clasp worn by qualified submariners

A life under the ocean wave: Lieutenants Maxine Stiles, Alexandra Olsson and Penny Thackray (left-right) have completed months of specialised training to earn their ‘Dolphins’ – the clasp worn by qualified submariners

Ever vigilant: Lt Penny Thackray, 39, from Hightown in West Yorkshire, will become an education oficer

Ever vigilant: Lt Penny Thackray, 39, from Hightown in West Yorkshire, will become an education oficer

Lt Olsson, 26, from Tranmere, the Wirral, was inspired to volunteer to serve on submarines after childhood visits to see HMS Onyx at the Maritime Museum in Birkenhead.

She said: ‘I kept volunteering and volunteering until it came in.’

She admitted that the three women might have ‘stuck out’ on board, but said: ‘They were really receptive. Having a slower process of introducing a few females first in the officer cadre and then ratings has helped. We haven’t just knocked on the door of a submarine and said ‘Can we come to sea please?’

‘I felt like a little sister to 165 brothers. You live as a very strange family. Once we got qualified they were glad for us the same way they had been glad for hundreds of submariners before.

‘At the end of the day manpower is a big thing for the Navy – as long as you can do the job, it doesn’t matter.’

Maxine Stiles will serve aboard HMS Vigilant as a logistics officer

Maxine Stiles will serve aboard HMS Vigilant as a logistics officer

 She added: ‘We did a long patrol, we’ve come across most things people want to know about, like how you live and how the guys get on with you.

‘I know there’s people who are interested but they haven’t been able to make an informed decision.

‘Of course it’s been challenging, but women are absolutely capable of doing this job. I think that change can always be a bit of a shock, but I look forward to seeing more and more women getting on board.’

Describing the living conditions on board, she said: ‘It’s slightly more cramped that you would be used to.

Actually you bring your perspective in so you don’t see the lack of space anymore – you see the space that’s there.

‘It’s a bit of an odd place to live – everything smells the same, it all has this diesel oily smell which you have to get used to. But it’s not a horrible place to live.

Always a rover: Lt Olsson, 26, from Tranmere, the Wirral, was inspired to volunteer to serve on submarines after childhood visits to see HMS Onyx at the Maritime Museum in Birkenhead

Always a rover: Lt Olsson, 26, from Tranmere, the Wirral, was inspired to volunteer to serve on submarines after childhood visits to see HMS Onyx at the Maritime Museum in Birkenhead

 ‘I managed to have a shower every day, we had laundry facilities. There was gym equipment. And food becomes a massive part of your day, it’s a routine you get into.’

Lt Thackray, 39, from Hightown in West Yorkshire, said: ‘You limit your horizons. I found I just forgot about the existence of some things – someone asked me if I missed bananas. I hadn’t even noticed until they mentioned it. I just forgot the outside world, you get a whole new world.’

After their training, Lt Stiles will continue her logistics officer post on board; Lt Olsson is undertaking deputy weapons engineering officer training; and Lt Thackray will become an education officer.

HMS Vigilant’s commanding officer Commander Matt Dennis, who oversaw their training, said: ‘I was impressed with how seamlessly the three women integrated on board.

‘They qualified without any difficulty and two of them even completed additional training whilst at sea.

‘As I would expect, they were accepted as integral members of the ship’s company by the rest of the crew and have really paved the way for women on submarines to be business as usual from now on.’

Second Sea Lord Vice Admiral David Steel said: ‘Women have been serving in ships at sea with the Royal Navy for more than 20 years and integrating them into the Submarine Service completes their inclusion into all seagoing branches.

‘This is a proud day for the Royal Navy but equally a major personal achievement for these three officers, as it is for all those qualifying.’

Source – Daily Mail.