A warm welcome is expected for the return of the Royal Navy submarine HMS Talent after seven months away from the UK.
More than 200 families, friends and well-wishers are expected to line the jetty at HM Naval Base Devonport, Plymouth, to welcome the crew of the nuclear-powered attack submarine at her base-port.
HMS Talent will also be given the honour of attendance by Commander-in-Chief Fleet Admiral Sir Trevor Soar, a previous commanding officer of the submarine. The admiral was onboard for the final leg of Talent’s journey home to Devonport after a highly successful deployment to the Indian Ocean.
The commanding officer of HMS Talent, Commander Simon Asquith said: “It is great to be reunited with family and friends. We had a very busy deployment and my team should be very proud of what they have achieved. It is particularly good that so many of our families and friends are expected to be here to meet us. Their unwavering support to my team has been key to our success.”
HMS Talent sailed from Plymouth on a cold blustery day in early February and after a brief period of pre-deployment work-up, set sail for the Indian Ocean. Although the sun was not shining as Talent left her home port, the following months saw many differences in geography, culture and climate. From cold and grey winter days in the UK, mild waters of the Mediterranean, scorching temperatures of the Middle East and the Indian monsoon; there was a scenery and climate for everyone.
The deployment of HMS Talent to the Indian Ocean was part of the Royal Navy’s commitment to help provide peace and stability in the Middle and Near East region.
While deployed, the submarine conducted operations and a number of high-profile anti-submarine warfare exercises operating with Merlin helicopters from 820 Naval Air Squadron at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose, Cornwall, American maritime patrol aircraft, Type 23 frigate HMS Northumberland and the Los Angeles Class submarine, USS Alexandria.
HMS Talent also conducted the first exercise in recent years between an Indian and a Royal Naval submarine as part of an ongoing programme to promote closer ties with India.
The submarine conducted regional engagement visits the United Arab Emirates, India, Jordan and Crete. HMS Talent sailed a total of 27,000 miles, crossed two oceans, two seas and two of the largest Gulfs in the world (Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean, Arabian and Mediterranean Seas and the Gulfs of Aden and Oman). The team of chefs who work in a galley (kitchen) on board which is the size of an average domestic kitchen to provide a balanced diet for 130 people, baked 37,000 bread rolls, cooked 22,000 eggs and used 11 tonnes of potatoes.
The crew also found time between operations and exercises to raise money for a good cause. The popular ‘horse racing’ afternoon and 1,000 numbers draw raised over £1,500 for the submarine’s adopted charity Hope House (a hospice for terminally ill children) which is in her affiliated town of Shrewsbury. In addition to the usual fund -raising events, the sailors also staged a ‘Row the Suez’ challenge on rowing machines on their return passage through the Suez Canal.
The submarine will be alongside in Devonport having been at sea for over 400 of the last 600 days and will undergo work by Babcock Marine for essential maintenance and weapons upgrades. Commander Asquith said: “We are all very much looking forward to working in partnership with Babcock Marine and their highly skilled workforce on this ambitious joint project.”
An updated Talent will emerge from Devonport next year and be ready once again to deploy globally at the forefront of Royal Navy operations if called upon.
HMS Talent is a Trafalgar Class submarine, the penultimate of her class of seven, built in Barrow-in-Furness, launched by Princess Anne in 1988 and commissioned into the Royal Navy in 1990. She has a dived displacement of 5,291 tonnes and of 4,815.8 tonnes surfaced. She is 85.4m long, 9.8m wide and has a draught of 9.5m and her crew numbers 130 (inc 18 officers). She is fitted with the Royal Navy’s most advanced sonar suite and her armament includes Spearfish wire-guided torpedo (long range anti-ship and anti submarine) and Tomahawk land attack missile (land targets).