The Plymouth-based submarine HMS Triumph returned home to Plymouth (Sunday, 29th) from a 10.5-month deployment to a heroes’ welcome from families and five fiancées.
A crowd of happy loved ones gathered on the jetty at HM Naval Base Devonport, including five fiancées who accepted proposals of marriage while the Trafalgar class submarine was on operations thousands of miles from home. The crowd waved and cheered and held home-made greetings banners aloft as the submarine tied up at the wharf after a deployment nearly twice the average patrol length.
HMS Triumph commanding officer Commander Rob Dunn, was met by his partner wife Lieutenant Commander Trish Kohn. She said: “I am extremely pleased he is back here in Plymouth. It is wonderful to have him home after such a long time.”
Cdr Dunn said: “I am relieved to be back home. We had to keep focused on the last leg as we have been coming home for the past month. It has been a long call of duty. We were excellently served by all those concerned while we were out deployed and that includes my ship’s company who were nothing less than marvelous. Life on board a nuclear-powered submarine is naturally a tough life and that includes being at sea for 90 per cent of the time w were away for 10.5 months.”
Over the past 17 months the nuclear-powered submarine HMS Triumph has been engaged in three core activities. Firstly, patrolling the coastal waters of Libya, providing vital combat support to NATO operations last year.
Among those engaged while on duty the far side of the world was Lieutenant (Lt) Megan Keeling, of HMS Iron Duke, who accepted the marriage proposal from HMS Triumph Lt Jon Bailey, both of Bournemouth.
Lt Bailey said: “Megan flew out to see me when we went ashore in Bahrain at Christmas and I proposed to her then. I’d been planning for some time. Triumph is certainly a loved-up boat and the diamond merchant in Dubai has been doing a roaring trade off us. I am so happy she said yes.”
HMS Triumph also acted as the training vessel for the Submarine Command Course or ‘Perisher’, a six-week course designed to put potential Commanding Officers through their paces. It is a demanding period for the students and includes very intensive exercise operations, periscope reconnaissance and attack missions. The high tempo also tests the crew too. On this occasion one of the successful students was Lieutenant Commander David Crosby who shortly afterwards joined HMS Triumph as executive officer and second-in-command. He said: “The amount of sea time this boat has done over the last 18 months is quite remarkable and I am proud to have been part of it.”
Joe Bulloch, of Plymouth, was met by his nurse wife Vanessa and their children Joe, two years, and Anna, 10 years. Anna said she had been looking forward to seeing her dad and that her brother wanted to give him a hug. Joe said: “It’s been great to see my family again. It’s been a relatively quiet trip for me as I stepped into replace a guy on board who was sick. I am now about to serve on board one of the new Astute class submarines Astute in Scotland which is exciting.”
Another excited fiancée, Surgeon Lt Laura Cottey, of HMS Drake, Plymouth, accepted a proposal of marriage from Lt Oliver Morrow, of HMS Triumph, when he was away. He proposed when she went out to United Arab Emirates to meet him. The pair met in HMS Drake.
The final part of Triumph’s deployment was undertaken in the Gulf region. During this time the boat conducted a wide variety of tasking from training patrols to multi-national exercises working with the UK’s partners in the region as well as other Royal Navy ships operating in the Gulf.
Port visits have provided the opportunity for wider regional engagement events in Fujairah (UAE) and Bahrain.
A number of distinguished guests visited the submarine including HRH the Duke of Wessex, HRH Salman bin Hamad Isa Al-Khalifa, the Crown Prince of Bahrain, as well as the Chief of the Bahrain Naval Force Brigadier General Abdulla Saeed Al-Mansoori.
After a final period of operational tasking in June, HMS Triumph returned to Fujairah for a short break before starting the much anticipated journey home where the crew is looking forward to being met by over 200 family and friends on the jetty in Devonport.
There have also been a number of success stories whilst HMS Triumph has been deployed. Lieutenant Commander (Lt Cdr) Paul Bass and Chief Petty Officers (CPO) Mark Thurston and Tab Hunter received Chief of Joint Operations Commendations in the operational awards list for their vital roles during operations in Libya. Warrant Officer 2 (WO) Dennison and CPO Johnson were awarded the Meritorious Service Medal (MSM) for services to the RN, whilst Lieutenant (Lt) Stuart Keillor was promoted to Lt Cdr. WO Dennison was promoted to WO1, CPO Donaldson to WO2, Petty Officer (PO) Vincent-Spall to CPO, Leading Seaman Williams, Leading Engineering Technician Riley (LET) and LET Dymond were promoted to PO and ETs Rodwell, Crouch, Ulph, Wilson and Hill along with CPO Masztalerz all picked up for promotion to leading hand (LH) whilst on deployment.
CPO Johnson said: “It’s great to be awarded the MSM and it’s great that other guys around the boat have been recognised for their hard work in the form of various promotions and appointments.”
The crew of Triumph also managed to find the time to raise nearly £6,000 for their charity Brian House Children’s Hospice in Blackpool, by various means with £1,104 being raised by Petty Officer Mussy Musgrove. He rowed a marathon in just under three hours (in the heat and cramped conditions of an electrical compartment) with ETs Reggie Hill Liam Pound raising £500 with a charity cycle ride on the exercise bike in the forward escape compartment. ET Hill said: “It’s such a worthy cause at Brian House with the work that they do there. Plus I think a few of us are looking forward to the trip up to Blackpool to present the cheque.”
HMS Triumph is the last of the seven submarines in the class and was launched 1991. The submarine has a typical crew of 130 personnel of which up to 20 will be officers and can stay at sea unsupported
for up to three months – only limited by food supplies. The submarine has a displacement of 5,800 tonnes (dived) and its motto is We Shall Triumph.