The nuclear-powered submarine HMS Trafalgar sailed into her home base for the final time to an emotional welcome today (Tuesday 10th).
The submarine is the first of the class of Trafalgar-class submarines at 27 years-old and the first of her class to be decommissioned from the Royal Navy.
She proudly flew the 120-feet long decommissioning pennant from the fin (the highest point of the submarine), to mark her 26 years’ lengthy and distinguished service, as she entered the River Tamar and HM Naval Base Devonport from Plymouth Sound this morning.
She was given a high-profile escort including a Royal Naval helicopter from Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose, Ministry of Defence police craft, a flotilla of sight-seeing pleasure-craft and tugs – the latter complete with water cannon firing high into the air. The submarines and ships alongside in the naval base also saluted her final homecoming with personnel lined smartly on deck and the sounding of ship’s pipes.
HMS Trafalgar’s Commanding Officer Commander Charlie Shepherd said the final homecoming of any submarine is an especially poignant one for submariners who regarded them with affection.
He said: “The feeling of everyone, including me, as we came in today for the final time was a mixture of pride and sorrow. Sadness, because this is the last time the submarine will be operational and some sailors who have been on board for up to seven years will miss their occupational home for so long and because close-knit submarines are almost families and this community will be broken up.
“Also, pride because of the fantastic work the submarine has done over 26 years and the more recent work we have done in the last two and a half years since I have been on board. We spent five months east of Suez working with a carrier task force and interacted with other navies. We also supported the training of would-be submarine commanders – called Perisher.”
He said many hundreds of different personnel had served in HMS Trafalgar over the years and among the achievements of them and the submarine was becoming the first nuclear-powered British submarine to fire a TLAM missile and the first British submarine to circumnavigate the globe.
He added: “Although she is being decommissioned she remains an extremely reliable vessel and has proved this over the years. Also, she still has cutting edge hardware and software sup[porting her systems on board.
“Most of all I am very proud of my ship’s company, they have been resilient, cheerful and hardworking right to the end. They, like the submarine are a credit to the Royal Navy.”
The submarine, affiliated to Morecombe, is due to decommission (leave service with the Royal Navy) in December. To mark this, a decommissioning ceremony will be held in HM Naval Base Devonport on 4 December. The proceedings will be overseen by Lady Fieldhouse, the ship’s sponsor. HMS Trafalgar was launched on 1 st July 1981 at the Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering Limited Shipyard. This year marks the 26th year since HMS Trafalgar was commissioned at Barrow-in-Furness by Lady Fieldhouse ( 27 May 1983 ).
HMS Trafalgar is being prepared for disposal in Devonport, her ship’s company will be assigned to new submarines including HMS Ambush and other Trafalgar Class submarines.