Tag Archives: Royal Navy

HMS Tireless returns to Plymouth for the final time before being decommissioned

  • Picture by Helen Pearse

  • HMS Tireless returning to Devonport Naval Base this evening. Picture by Nick Copson.

  • HMS Tireless returning to Devonport Naval Base this evening. Picture by Nick Copson.

  • HMS Tireless returning to Devonport Naval Base this evening. Picture by Nick Copson.

  • Picture by Helen Pearse

  • Picture by Helen Pearse

  • Picture by Helen Pearse

  • Picture by Helen Pearse

  • Picture by Helen Pearse

  • Picture by Helen Pearse

  • Picture by Helen Pearse

  • Picture by Helen Pearse

  • Picture by Helen Pearse

  • Picture by Helen Pearse

  • HMS Tireless returning to Devonport Naval Base this evening. Picture by Nick Copson.

NUCLEAR-powered Royal Navy submarine HMS Tireless has returned home to Plymouth for the last time.

The service’s longest serving nuclear-powered hunter killer sub is due to be decommissioned after nearly 30 years of service.

The vessel, base ported in Devonport, operated as one of the Cold War “warriors”, a Navy spokesman said.

“Out of sight and mind, she deployed for long, secret and often dangerous missions out into the Atlantic,” he added. “She patrolled for months at a time searching for and stalking her enemies.

“Renowned for her stealth and many successes she enjoys a strong reputation to this day.”

The sub returned home tonight after completing the first deployment by a Royal Navy nuclear-powered submarine to Australia in seven years.

HMS Tireless had also been assisting in the search for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370.

HMS Tireless was launched in 1984 and commissioned a year later.

She surfaced at the North Pole in 1991, 2004 and 2006, and between 2010 and 2011 took part in a 10-month deployment, the longest continuous deployment by a UK nuclear-powered submarine up to that date.

This year she has been on East of Suez deployment, which included her searching for Flight MH370.

Source – Plymouth Herald

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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


UK Diesel Boat Reunion -Plymouth (August)

Dolphins

Gentlemen

The next Diesel Boat Reunion will be held at the normal venue on the normal date as per usual. Basically, at the Oakvilla Social Club, Weston Mill ( PL2 2EL ) which is behind Camel Head Fire Station on Saturday 2nd August starting at about 1200 ish.

Anyone requiring the buffet, it will be, as usual £5.00 to be with me by the 28th of July at the very latest please. If you could send a cheque for the £5.00 to Mr MW PITKEATHLY, The Courageous Exhibit Office, N193, HM Naval Base, Devonport Dockyard, PLYMOUTH,PL2 2BG. Unfortunately, this will be non refundable. Some of you have gone really modern and no longer have a cheque book, this is now not a problem, so if you could email me first, I will give you the bank details.

Can you please get the word around to the very few that are not on email and maybe interested in coming along to the DBR please.

At the last reunion in 2013, I asked for a volunteer to take over in case I ended up having a stroke/heart attack/dead etc. I am very pleased that Pat Langdon(Fireman Pat) from Exeter has taken up the mantle. We have set up a joint bank account with the Natwest that we can both access, which we feel is ideal and he has access to the dieselboatreunion@hotmail.co.uk email account should I be indisposed or even dead.

Just prior to the last reunion I asked for ex pusser S/M items, so that it could be utilised on HMS Courageous. I would like to thank Pincher Martin for a green sleeping bag and Rodney Hodge for a Pusser’s case full of old kit and bits, much appreciated from both of you thanks.

A message from Ken Woods. If you are in Plymouth for a long weekend, the Plymouth Hoe Club, 1 Osbourne Place, Lockyer Street  tel no: 01752 311512 welcomes all submariners.  If you are staying locally for the weekend it’s a popular watering hole for shipmates and a place to meet up before the big day!

I trust that you are all well and look forward to seeing you at the 2014 DBR

Kind regards

Pat Langdon and Pitt.k (former naval person) 

At sea with Britain’s first woman sub hunter: Warship commander

‘We all make sacrifices’: Britain’s first woman sub hunter says her years at  sea ‘probably explains why I’m still single’

Britain’s first female warship commander is  preparing to lead the HMS Portland on a six-month patrol in the Atlantic on the  hunt for enemy submarines.

In 2012, Sarah West became  the first woman to be put in charge of a British warship in the navy’s 500 year  history, and says she is proud to be at the front of defending our waters from  the threat of submarines.

However, the 41-year-old says that the  high-octane job comes at a personal cost, revealing that the years spent away at  sea mean she is still single.

Sarah West stands proudly on HMS Portland as the Royal Navy's first female commander of a warship.Sarah West stands proudly on HMS Portland as the Royal  Navy’s first female commander of a warship.

She joined the navy after getting bored with  her nine to five job as a trainee manager.

The ban on women working on  submarines was  only lifted in 2011 and Cdr West described her  appointment to take command of  HMS Portland as the highlight of her 16  years in the navy.

However, she plays down her role in being on  the frontline of helping to maintain a ring of steel around the British  coastline.

‘I’m  not reinventing the wheel,’ she told the Mirror. ‘Lots of women in the services  have challenging roles. It’s just that I happen to be newsworthy at the  moment.’

As much as she enjoys the thrilling nature of  her job, she admits that it has not made it easy to meet a partner.

‘There are drawbacks. Years at sea probably  explains why I’m single. But every person in the military makes  sacrifices.’

She says plenty of men and women on board are  missing seeing their children grow up, which makes it crucial to keep morale  high.

Cdr Sarah West looks through binoculars as the HMS Portland hunts a submarine in the Cumbrae Gap, Scotland.Cdr Sarah West looks through binoculars as the HMS  Portland hunts a submarine in the Cumbrae Gap, Scotland.

Now she is in charge of an 185-strong crew  whom she leads in trying to out outmaneouvre their underwater  enemies.

‘Anti-submarine warfare is the military  version of chess. You must work out what the enemy is going to do before they  even think of it,’ says Cdr West who is captain of HMS Portland, a Type 23  frigate with submarine-hunting kit, Sea Wolf and Harpoon  missiles, Stingray  torpedoes and a Lynx attack helicopter.

They have recently been running a training  exercise to catch the submarine HMS  Triumph, which bombed Libya in 2011 and now  trains future Royal Navy  captain.’

There is no sign of the submarine despite  sending a helicopter to dip a sonar wire into the sea where it is suspected to  be.

But suddenly a periscope is spotted several  miles away, sparking Cdr West  into action, who shouts orders for HMS Portland  to move in on the sub  and prepares for the similated launch of three Stingray  torpedoes.

‘Today has been a good day for submarine  hunting,’ says Cdr West.

‘Many more countries have submarines now so  there’s always a threat out there. What we’re doing is really  important.’

Commander West oversees the hunt for the submarine in the ship's operations room.Commander West oversees the hunt for the submarine in  the ship’s operations room.

‘You can have state-of-the-art kit but,  without well-trained people wanting to use it, you’re useless.’

The ship is set to leave HM Naval Base  Devonport in Plymouth for six months on patrol in the Atlantic.

The crew will face threats from storms, with  gale-force winds whipping up waves as high as 40ft. Warships sit high in the  water for speed and cannot turn away from a storm for comfort when they have to  sail somewhere urgently. Many of those suffering from seasickness will be forced  to vomit into buckets while on watch.

They are facing testing times as Russia is  understood to be on the verge of completing a £1.25 billion K-329 Severodvinsk  nuclear-powered submarine which could give it a crucial underwater  advantage.

Source – Daily Mail

‘When the torpedoes hit the German U-boat it was the biggest bang I’d ever heard’

Warrenby submariner Bill Anderton recalls his wartime experiences under Arctic seas after memorial service at Scottish base

Former Royal Navy submariner Bill Anderton
Former Royal Navy submariner Bill Anderton

Listening intently, submarine sonar operator Bill Anderton knew he’d picked up an enemy vessel.

On joining the Royal Navy in 1942, the Warrenby lad was originally attracted to serving on submarines because it offered an extra three and sixpence a day.

But two years later, deep in icy waters west of the Norwegian town of Narvik, money was the last thing on the 21-year-old Teessider’s mind – he was putting his training into lethal action.

The vessel Bill detected on June 15, 1944 was German enemy submarine U-987. His intensive training back at Gosport in Hampshire meant he knew what a U-boat sounded like.

And soon after he raised the alarm, the submarine he served on, HMS Satyr, was sending torpedoes hurtling away to successfully sink their target.

 

Using intelligence supplied by Bletchley Park codebreakers and brave Norwegian coastwatchers, Bill and the 35-strong Satyr crew patrolled far into the Arctic Ocean to protect vital Allied supply convoys from marauding U-boats and warships. And it was during one of these highly dangerous patrols in June 1944 that Satyr intercepted the U-987.

Memories of his time on Satyr came flooding back for Bill recently when he attended a memorial service in Dundee – home of HMS Ambrose, his submarine’s home base. Each year, a service is held at the city’s memorial to honour the 296 submariners and commandos from HMS Ambrose who are “Still on Patrol” – in other words, the ones who never came back from their often perilous missions.

Bill, of The Avenue, Redcar, is the last surviving member of HMS Satyr’s wartime crew, so it was fitting that he and 89-year-old Robert Gilfillan of Erskine, Scotland – the last crew member from another Ambrose vesel, HMS Sceptre – were special guests at the annual service.

And while Satyr had other wartime skirmishes, including the sinking of Norwegian merchant ship Nordnorge and unsuccessful attempts to sink German merchant vessels in August 1944, the attack on U-987 is always the mission that comes to mind.

Bill, 90, recalled: “I would sit for four hours at a time, earphones on, listening for whatever was out there. As soon as I heard anything, I reported it to the officer on the watch and they would go to action stations. It was in the Arctic in July and in broad daylight. We did two hours diving and two hours on the surface, although we were below when we detected the submarine.

“They fired six torpedoes – two ahead, two to hit and two back in case they altered course. When they hit the U-boat, everyone gave a big cheer – it was the biggest bang I’d ever heard.

“The skipper raised the periscope and everyone had a look. When we got to it, there was just the bow and stern sticking out of the water.”

Bill carried out 10 patrols on the Satyr – two in the Bay of Biscay and the rest off the coast of Norway. He left the Navy in March 1946, returning to a job in the steelworks.

But all these years later, his annual trip to Dundee remains special to him.

He explained: “I like to pay my respects to the ones who didn’t come back.”

Source – Gazette Live

British nuclear submarine ‘surfaces off Gibraltar’ as row with Spain heats up

Witnesses said  they saw the submarine surface on Saturday

  • Believe sub is  HMS Tireless but officials refuse to confirm sighting
  • Comes days  after Royal Navy warship HMS Westminster arrived

A British nuclear submarine has reportedly  been spotted off the Gibraltar coast.

Witnesses said they saw the vessel surface on  Saturday as tensions between Spain and Britain continue to rise over fishing  rights around the Mediterranean enclave.

The sighting comes days after Royal Navy  warship HMS Westminster arrived in Gibraltar.

Witnesses say a British nuclear submarine, believed to be HMS Tireless (pictured), surfaced off GibraltarWitnesses say a British nuclear submarine, believed to  be HMS Tireless (pictured), surfaced off Gibraltar

The Ministry of Defence refused to confirm or  deny today if a nuclear submarine is currently stationed at the enclave.

 A spokeswoman said if it was in Gibraltar  then it was for ‘routine business’.

The Sun quoted an ‘insider’ as saying: ‘There  is only one reason a submarine breaks the surface – and that is to be spotted.

Last time the Trafalgar-class sub docked by the Rock it provoked anger and protests from activists (pictured) Last time the Trafalgar-class sub docked by the Rock it  provoked anger and protests from activists (pictured)

‘These things do not show themselves unless  they want to be seen.’

The website shipspotting.com reported that  HMS Tireless – a Trafalgar-class nuclear submarine – was seen in Gibraltar in Z  Berth last month.

Local news in Gibraltar reported that HMS  Tireless sailed into the area last month for a ‘short stay as part of (the  submarine’s scheduled operational tasking’.

If confirmed, it will be the first time the  nuclear submarine has docked in the contested region since 2004.

The docking of HMS Tireless, which is due to  be decommissioned this year, sparked protests from Spanish activist nine years  ago – the same year as the 300th  anniversary of the capture of Gibraltar from Spain.

The submarine caused diplomatic tensions  between Britain and Spain once again in 2000 when it docked in Gibraltar for a  year after the submarine developed a serious leak in the nuclear reactor primary  cooling circuit.

Another Trafalgar-class submarine, HMS  Talent, stopped in Gibraltar this year and the enclave’s first minister Fabian  Picardo and his deputy Dr Joseph Garcia were given a tour.

Tensions between the two countries have  ramped up this year over fishing rights.

Gibraltar’s creation of an artificial reef  with concrete blocks has provoked fury from Spanish fisherman, which they say  blocks their access to certain waters.

Spanish police were criticised last week when  they unfurled a Spanish flag during an inspection of the reef.

Spanish police were criticised recently after they held up a Spanish flag Spanish police were criticised recently after they held  up a Spanish flag during an inspection of an artificial reef that has caused  anger among fishermen

Gibraltar accused the police of violating  ‘British sovereignty’ by attempting to exercise jurisdiction in its  territory.

Last week, a fleet of almost 40 boats sailed  into British waters to demand the reef be removed.

Spain has also increases border checks,  leading to long queues for workers and tourists entering Gibraltar.

The Gibraltar government has tried in recent  days to defuse tensions by proposing a change in local law to let the Spanish  resume fishing in parts of the sea near the Rock.

Source –   Daily Mail

UK – Court told of Corsock throat cutting attack

High Court in Glasgow

Prosecutors accepted that Hills was suffering from a mental disorder at the time of the attack

A court has heard how a former Royal Navy submariner cut his wife’s throat with a knife after thinking she was conspiring against him.

John Hills, 47, struck his spouse Karen during the attack at their home in the village of Corsock in April.

He faced a charge of assaulting her to the danger of her life.

However, a judge acquitted him at the High Court in Glasgow after prosecutors accepted Hills was suffering from a mental disorder at the time.


He said that if he had meant to kill her then he could do so”

Paul KearneyAdvocate depute

Hills – who has no previous convictions – will remain in the State Hospital at Carstairs before returning to the dock in November.

The court heard how he was working as a call handler for the ambulance service based in Nottingham at the time of the attack.

This required him to spend time away from the family home in Corsock near Castle Douglas.

He had previously been with the Royal Navy for 23 years and had also been employed as a beekeeper.

In the weeks before she was assaulted, Mrs Hills had concerns about her husband, who believed people in the village were spreading rumours about him.

He mentioned “silent phone calls” and claimed that during one he had heard the sound of a gun being drawn.

On the morning of the attack, Hills unexpectedly returned home from Nottingham in the early hours.

Mrs Hills was later making breakfast when her husband suddenly walked into the kitchen naked.

Prosecutor Paul Kearney told the court: “He then began accusing her of being behind all the silent phone calls and of being responsible for his workmates being hostile towards him.

“He was saying things like: ‘I know what you are doing’.”

State Hospital, Carstairs
Hills was ordered to remain in the State Hospital at Carstairs until a review hearing

Mr Kearney said Mrs Hills was “very afraid” before her husband suddenly grabbed her face and pushed her against a door.

She started to struggle for breath and began to panic.

Mrs Hills then spotted a knife in his hand and he used the weapon to strike her across the neck.

She managed to break free and grab a towel to stem the heavy bleeding.

Hills meantime sat down on a chair and demanded she “tell the truth”.

Mr Kearney went on: “He said that he knew she could hear him as the wounds she had were not deep enough.

“He said that if he had meant to kill her then he could do so.”

Mrs Hills eventually escaped to a neighbour’s house where an emergency call was made.

‘Profound impact’

Hills was later discovered by police at his house lying in blood with a wound to his arm.

He told a doctor that he and his wife had been having “issues” and that he suspected her of being involved in a “conspiracy” at home and at his work.

Mrs Hills was found by medics to have two deep wounds to her neck, which were potentially life-threatening. They have left her permanently scarred.

Advocate depute Mr Kearney said: “The impact upon her has, as might be expected, been profound.”

The court heard Hills was assessed by two consultant psychiatrists, who both concluded he was suffering from a delusional disorder at the time.

It was their opinion that, due to this, he did not “appreciate the nature and wrongfulness” of his conduct.

Source – BBC News

Judge Lord Doherty imposed an interim compulsion order for Hills to remain at Carstairs.

The case was continued until a review hearing at the High Court in Edinburgh on 4 November.