The crew of the nuclear-powered Royal Navy hunter killer submarine HMS Trenchant staged a ceremony in Plymouth today (Friday) marking the vessel’s readiness for operations.
Families were also treated to a day out with members of the crew to say thank you for their valued continued support – especially while the submarine is deployed, with little contact with home.
The occasion marks the submarine’s reintegration into the fleet after undergoing a maintenance and weapon and sensors upgrade in Devonport Naval Base. The submarine holds the RN submarine record for a continuous deployment – 11 months in 2013.
A rededication ceremony is a traditional part of any Royal Navy vessel’s life after completing a period of refit and improvement. The event was attended by the submarine’s sponsor, Lady Meriel Hunt.
Commander Rob Watts, captain of HMS Trenchant, addressed his crew on parade. He praised them for their professionalism and thanked their families: “I have much faith in this finest of crews will see out Trenchant’s final chapter with professionalism and pride. It is with much pride I have in showing you off to our sponsor and your families and friends.’’
The event marks the countdown to when HMS Trenchant is officially available for tasking by the Fleet Commander on behalf of the UK.
Kirsty Gregory, wife of Radio Engineer Artificer Neil, was joined by their four children Nancy, 7, Lulu, 12, and Owen, 12, at the parade and then joined the family fun day.
Kirsty said: “This is a good fun day for the children and me. Trenchant is a very good submarine as far as families are concerned. We get lots of support while they are deployed. We are not forgotten and our role in looking after the home and children is appreciated and recognised by the command.
“The families of submariners are all one big family. The children grow up with others from other families over the years and it all works when we support each other when our husbands are away for months. Having an event like this and visiting the submarine gives the children a chance to understand why daddy goes away.’’
Neil was on the 11-month deployment and his wife said all the families relied heavily on each other. Neil said: “This is a chance for the families to all get together again and get ready for us being away. We are all looking forward to going to sea again, doing what we signed up for.’’
The maintenance period, carried out by the Royal Navy’s and Ministry of Defence’s industrial partner Babcock, is the largest and most complex ever undertaken at Devonport, including significant elements of maintenance and capability upgrades to see the boat through to its decommissioning in 2019.
HMS Trenchant is a potent vessel, capable of conducting a range of complex tasks including underwater and above water warfare as well as long-range strike, landing troops and intelligence collection. Her refit will ensure she enters the submarine fleet with the most modern equipment available.
Babcock Direct Submarine Support, Gavin Leckie, said: “The completion of this project is a reflection of the strong cooperation of the joint Babcock, MoD and ship staff team who have overcome a number of significant technical challenges to deliver HMS Trenchant back to the Royal Navy in an excellent material state, and I’m grateful to all involved for their support in achieving this milestone.”
The work included a double motor generator change in dry dock, external hull paint, main battery exchange, extensive hull surveillance work, wide-ranging system surveys and a package of planned maintenance on the reactor system – amounting to more than 650,000 direct labour hours.
The crew now begin further training and testing so they are ready to begin operating any where in the world.