The success of a former nuclear-powered submarine as a visitor attraction in the past ten years has been marked with the unveiling of a tribute to submariners who died serving their country.
The former HMS Courageous has attracted hundreds of visitors to Plymouth in the decade since opening as only the second former nuclear-powered submarine museum in Europe other than in France.
A ceremony was staged in the submarine at HM Naval Base Devonport to mark the unveiling of a large memorial board on the jetty listing all the Royal Navy submarines lost in both war and in peace. The launch of the board was conducted by Commodore Jake Moores, who commands the flotilla of Devonport-based operational ships. Cdre Moores, served in Courageous in 1986-87. He said: “Courageous is a fantastic refurbishment. This boat was there during the Cold War. The association can be justifiably proud of the work it has done to restore the only former nuclear powered submarine open to the public this side of the Atlantic.’’
He said the Royal Navy’s submarine service was stronger than ever with the new Astute class entering service and the future of the replacement ballistic submarine class optimistic. Currently the Trafalgar class submarines were operationally busier than ever.
Captain David Wixon (retired), also attended as the first senior engineer officer of Courageous whilst being built at Barrow in 1970. Capt Wixon is also the President of the HMS Courageous Association which has breathed new life into the vessel. The memorial board and transformation was paid for by funds donated by the association.
The Rev Martyn Gough opened the event by conducting a ceremony of thanks and dedication to all sailors past and present and specifically submariners. A ceremonial sword was used by Cdre Moores to cut the anniversary cake with the help of Sandra White, submarine volunteer and the wife of volunteer Sidney White who served on Courageous from 1970 to ‘73 as a young able seaman radar plotter. Nigel Thornber was presented with a hip flask filled with rum by Cdre Moores as reward for his contribution to developing the submarine as an exhibit.
HMS Courageous was opened as a museum warship to public tours as a celebration of the rich heritage and history of the Royal Navy. Courageous, now out of service for 20 years, has been extensively refurbished by a team of enthusiastic ex-Royal Naval personnel, the majority of them submariners. Among the improvements are the complete refurbishment of the control room and sound room and the installation of a photographic display in place of the senior ratings bunks. Adding to the realism are two neutralised weapons, a Harpoon Missile and Tigerfish Torpedo, in the torpedo storage area.
Visitors to the Courageous exhibit need to book by the following means. Telephone 01752 552389 or 552326.