Ceud mile failte for submariners returning to Scottish base at Faslane
The Vanguard Class Submarine on her return to HM Naval Base Clyde; loved ones watch and wave from their vantage point at Rhu Spit and families wave their banners to welcome the submarine and her crew home. Pictures by the Royal Navy.
FAMILY members of serving submariners have praised the services of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Welfare (RMRMW) Team.
Around 200 family members and loved ones recently gathered at a vantage point close to HM Naval Base Clyde to welcome home the latest Vanguard Class Submarine to complete a successful patrol.
Coaches took the families to Rhu where they cheered and waved welcome home banners as the giant ballistic submarine sailed past to her home port of HM Naval Base Clyde.
While waiting for their loved ones to disembark the submarine, the families were taken to the Supermess within HMS Neptune where the RNRMW team had laid on a homecoming event for them. There was a buffet lunch for everyone and games, face painting and a children’s entertainer to keep the kids amused while family and friends caught up with a coffee and a chat.
Some of the loved ones had travelled a fair distance to attend the homecoming. Louise and Neil Bonner had set off from Staffordshire at five in the morning to welcome home their son David from his first deployment.
“We are so happy to be here to meet David when he arrives back at Faslane and we are really impressed with all the effort that’s gone into organising the homecoming, “said Louise.
“We were met at the train station and taken to Helensburgh where we got straight on the coach with all the other families. We really appreciate how kind and thoughtful everyone has been throughout the day.”
Mum of two Hayley Hart was particularly pleased that her husband Colin was coming home. Hayley broke her ankle on New Year’s Eve while putting out the wheelie bin. Her leg has been in a cast since then and she has depended on the support of her mother-in-law, who kindly travelled up from Lancashire to help out with her two boys, seven year old Jack and Henry aged four.
Hayley also received fantastic support from RNRMW and SSAFA, who even organised a dog- walker for the much loved family pet.
“I am so grateful for the amazing help and support I have received during this deployment and especially the past few weeks,” said Hayley.
“Now I can’t wait to see my husband and the boys are so excited too. Jack and Henry were both up at 4:20am this morning to help me put up welcome home banners for their daddy.”
The homecoming event is the culmination of a package of support provided to families and loved-ones during the submarine’s deployment and is a joint venture arranged by the RNRMW Team and Royal Navy personnel.
The Royal Navy Royal Marines Welfare Team provide accessible support services that strengthen and enhance the resilience and resourcefulness of Naval Service personnel, their families and communities.
The returning vessel is one of four Vanguard class submarines which, between them, maintain the country’s Continuous At Sea Deterrent.
Since 1969, at least one Royal Navy ballistic submarine has been on patrol, a constant deterrent against the most extreme threats to our national security and way of life.
After each patrol the submarines return to HM Naval Base Clyde, which 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.
Meanwhile, Faslane-based Royal Navy mine hunter HMS Penzance has been working with international partners recently helping to train navigators from seven different nations.
The high-tech vessel, which is part of Faslane’s First Mine Counter Measures Squadron (MCM1), hosted ten trainees from Vietnam, Belize, Barbados, Jordon, Jamaica, Kenya and Lebanon.
MCM1’s Crew 1 helped develop the international student’s navigation skills, ship-handling ability and response to emergencies over a two-week period, using Scottish Sea Lochs and the stunning backdrop of the Clyde Estuary.
Lieutenant Commander Lee Vessey, Commanding Officer of HMS Penzance, said that he was impressed with the student’s work ethic and team bonding.
“The different countries had obviously sent some of their best people and have high hopes for their future careers,” he said. “I hope they will remember the Royal Navy often and positively, and maybe even stay in touch for the rest of their careers.”
The Royal Navy’s reputation as a world-class trainer regularly draws navies from around the world to send personnel to undergo courses and gain qualifications.
The ten week Navigation and Warfare International Training Course saw the students put through their paces during a mixture of simulator training, classroom based learning and rigorous assessments. The course culminated in the fortnight on board HMS Penzance, drawing on the expertise of the highly-trained MCM1 crew.
“From the perspective of the ship’s company, these weeks provide an excellent opportunity to develop an understanding of other navies and their practices,” said Lieutenant Commander Vessey.
“It is invaluable experience and such initiatives serve to strengthen the bonds between us and our allies. Whether it is on operations overseas, or on joint exercises closer to home, all were left with a genuine hope to meet again.”
All ten trainees will now return to their respective navies to become Bridge and Navigating Officers, with some eventually going on to be future Commanders.
HMS Penzance is a Royal Navy Sandown class Mine Counter Measures Vessel (MCMV), one of seven based at HM Naval Base Clyde.
At any one time the Royal Navy has four mine hunters working in the Gulf – two Sandown Class and two Hunt Class vessels. Together they help safeguard the waterways for shipping in the area. While there the vessels conduct routine surveys, sea bed clearance and mine clearance operations. The ships provide a visible naval presence in the region where stability and good relations with local nations is vital.
The crews of the Squadron rotate every seven to eight months, with the vessels staying in the region.
Some of the international students on board HMS Penzance with Commanding Officer Lee Vessey (centre).