The Royal Navy was cheered through the streets of a South West town when submariners paraded proudly through the high street.
Hundreds of people lined the streets to see more than 100 sailors of the Plymouth-based submarine HMS Torbay parading through Torquay town centre and onto the sea front as hosts of Torbay Council taking part in a ceremony underlining the close relationship between the Royal Navy and the community.
Commander Dan Knight, HMS Torbay commanding officer, received a scroll marking the honorary Freedom of the Borough of Torbay from the elected Mayor Gordon Oliver at a traditional ceremony outside the town hall, followed by a parade of the crew from the town hall with ceremonial guard, platoons and led by a Royal Marines Band. The crew later visited schools and charities.
Cdr Knight addressed the parade, watching crowds and the mayor. He thanked the mayor for the invitation and the borough for their many years of support:: “HMS Talent has had strong support and links with the borough since 1987 and for the Navy well before then. We are immensely grateful for this support. This is a fitting event to acknowledge this support. It is the nature of the submarine service that we spend a lot of our time in isolation, carrying out rewarding work we can’t readily discuss.
“This support back home makes the isolation from friends and family more tolerable. I take much personal pride in taking part in this event. This is a great honour for the submarine and reaffirms the strong ties with the people of Torbay.’’
Elected Mayor Gordon Oliver thanked the crew of HMS Torbay for ensuring the people of the borough could sleep soundly at night knowing the submariners were working 24 hours a day to ensure their safety.
He said they worked in what many would consider cramped and relatively inhospitable conditions and in the dangerous underwater environment to ensure the security of the country.
Councillor Oliver added: “This is a celebration of the work of officers and men of HMS Torbay and of the Royal Navy. This special day is a rare chance for them to get the recognition they deserve. Because of the nature of their work it does not happen very often. The Borough of Torbay is delighted Commander Knight and his crew have also found the time to also tour Torbay schools. ‘’
HMS Torbay was officially recognised as an affiliate of the Borough of Torbay in 1989. Since then the submarine has maintained strong links with many associations within the borough including Sea Cadets and the Torbay Yacht Club. The crew also takes part in Torbay November ceremonies and works with charities and schools.
Chief Petty Officer Jim Tozer, serves on board HMS Torbay and lives in Torquay. He said: “Having been in the Royal Navy for 16 years it is a special occasion for me to be able to parade through my home town. Events like today are becoming rarer and it will stand out in the memories of everyone involved as an exceptional event.’’
Chief Petty Officer Neil Abraham, also of Torquay said: “I am proud to be representing the Royal Navy in my home town and it is extra special to me that my family can come and watch the parade through the streets.’’
The age-old Freedom of the Borough historically gave the crew the right to bear arms – traditionally a ceremony and march through the city streets – this event symbolically affirms this right and promises to an impressive spectacle.