Submarine service reveals major mission milestone

Royal Navy Submariners at HM Naval Base Clyde marked a major milestone recently with the successful completion of the 350th deterrent patrol.

As the country’s ultimate weapon, submarine operations and movements are kept a closely guarded secret, but the Silent Service has temporarily broken its silence to reveal the significant achievement. 

“Our nuclear submarines are among the most complex machines ever built and ensuring that one is at sea continuously is a huge challenge,” said Rear Admiral John Weale OBE, Head of the UK Submarine Service. 

“That the Royal Navy has completed 350 deterrent patrols without once breaking the chain is simply a momentous achievement. 

“Everyone knows that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.  Whether it is the dedication of our submariners, the expertise of our engineers and support staff, or the love of our families– each link remained strong throughout.”

He continued:  “I would like to thank the many thousands of people, past and present, who have contributed to this milestone.  It is a testament to their hard work and commitment in helping to keep the UK safe.”

Our nuclear submarines are among the most complex machines ever built and ensuring that one is at sea continuously is a huge challenge. That the Royal Navy has completed 350 deterrent patrols without once breaking the chain is simply a momentous achievement.

Rear Admiral John Weale OBE

Continuous submarine patrolling began in April 1969 with the Royal Navy’s submarines taking primary responsibility for the UK’s national strategic deterrent.  Since then at least one Royal Navy ballistic submarine has been on patrol in the world’s oceans, ensuring a continuous at sea deterrent.

Today the four Vanguard class submarines uphold the mission and between them have never missed a single day on patrol.

Although the name of the submarine and the date it completed the 350th patrol have not been revealed, the impressive achievement was formally recognised back in September when NATO’s North Atlantic Council visited HM Naval Base Clyde along with the UK Defence Secretary. 

Speaking during the visit, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said: “The nuclear forces of the Alliance, including those at Clyde Naval Base, are the supreme guarantee of the security of allied countries and populations.”

As well as marking the considerable achievements of the past, the Submarine Service is also focussed on the future.  HM Naval Base Clyde has been home to the submarine based nuclear deterrent for five decades and will be the home to the entire UK Submarine Service by 2020.

The UK Government is investing £1.3 Billion over the next 10 years to update and upgrade its engineering and training facilities in preparation for the new Dreadnought class of submarines. 

The design and construction of the Dreadnought class of four ballistic missile submarines is one of the largest and most complex programmes that the MOD and UK industry has undertaken.