HMS Vigilant

HMS Vigilant

HMS Vigilant is not, by nature, a high-profile vessel. Her role as one of the four submarines which make up the UK National nuclear deterrent means she must 'disappear' on patrol for weeks on end. 

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Her mid-life Long Overhaul Period Refuel LOP(R), costing in excess of £300 million, has seen her reactor core upgraded and she now has enough fuel to power her through the rest of her working life, as well as significant upgrades to all her major machinery and operating systems.

The LOP involved more than 3,500 separate surveys and at least 200 distinct upgrades, bringing in more than 80 different sub-contractors to conduct the 2.5 Million man hours of work carried out at Devonport under the control of Babcock Marine and the DE&S.

Vigilant left Devonport in the middle of last year as the most technologically advanced of her class, and has returned to her home port of Faslane where she is entering a period of extensive sea trials which will test both the submarine’s systems and her Ship’s Company.

She has undertaken her Demonstration and Shakedown Operations in the USA, which culminated in a successful test firing of an unarmed Trident II D5 Test Missile. She is in the process of readying herself to take up her role in the deterrent patrol cycle, a cycle which has been unbroken since 1969, totaling in excess of 300 patrols and more than 43 years, an impressive record in any organisation.

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Current operation Continuous at sea deterrent

Since April 1969, the UK has been providing the continuous at sea deterrent. At any time, one of the current Vanguard-class submarines is on patrol somewhere in the oceans of the globe, protecting the UK through a credible nuclear deterrent.

Location Global

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Unit History

The First Vigilant1745

The first Vigilant was the French 4th Rate Vigilante, mounting 58 guns, captured by Superb off Cape Breton in May 1745 and sold in December 1759.

The Third Vigilant1774

The third of the name was a 3rd Rate 64-gun ship of the line launched at Bucker’s Hard in Hampshire in October 1774. She saw action, including battles in the Caribbean and in home waters.

The Fourth Vigilant1777

An ‘armed ship’ of 20 guns, formerly the Empress of Russia, was bought in America in 1777 but was burnt at South Carolina three years later.

The fifth Vigilant1793

The fifth Vigilant met the same fate met as the fourth. The four-gun cutter Vigilante (formerly the Alerte), a capture from the French in August 1793, was destroyed at the evacuation of Toulon.

Vigilant Number Six1803

A four-gun schooner bought in 1803 and sold in 1808, her successor was the French eight-gun schooner Imperial, captured by Cygnet off Dominica in May 1806 and renamed Subtle.

Launch at Deptford1821

Next was a 12-gun cutter launched at Deptford in April 1821, while Vigilant number 9 came to nothing – the 1,540-ton wooden screw frigate was ordered in March 1846 but cancelled three years later.

The Eighth Vigilant1856

A wood screw gun vessel of 680 tons was launched at Blackwall in London in March 1856 and sold in Bombay in February 1869.

Vigiliant Eleven1871

Vigilant number 11, a wooden paddle dispatch vessel of 1,000 tons, was launched in Devonport and served for 15 years before being sold in Hong Kong in October 1886.

Torpedo Boat Destroyer1900

The next Vigilant was a 380-ton C-class ‘30-Knotter’ torpedo-boat destroyer, a speculative purchase from John Brown in 1900 which served with the Navy for 20 years.

Survival and Attack1942

Far-from-unlucky 13 was the 1,710-ton Valentine-class destroyer launched at the end of 1942. It not only survived the war but also had roles in the attack on the Tirpitz in April 1944.

A Type 15 Fast Anti-Submarine Frigate1952

In 1952-53 she was converted to a Type 15 fast anti-submarine frigate, and was eventually broken up at Faslane in 1965.

Vigilant Numbers 14 and 151975

Number 14 was a patrol boat, launched in March 1975 and renamed Meavy in July 1986 – leaving the current V-boat as Vigilant Number 15.

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