Submarine Service birthday dinner

The Royal Navy Submariners gather for the annual Gambit Dinner at HM Naval Base Clyde.

By Kim Hardie

Submariners of all ages gathered at HM Naval Base Clyde recently to help celebrate the 118th birthday of the Royal Navy Submarine Service.

Hundreds of members of the silent service held their annual “Gambit Dinner”, commemorating the anniversary.

2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the Continuous At Sea Deterrent (CASD) and this was the theme of this year’s celebrations.

The dinner was attended by all ranks and rates as well as civilian staff and industry partners and it was an ideal opportunity to recognise and thank those who have contributed to this important defence capability.

The Submarine Service was already celebrating its 19th birthday when Harry Melling was born in 1920.

Harry, who at the ripe old age of 99 is the oldest Submariner attending this year’s dinner, travelled to Faslane from his home in Wigan with his niece, Elaine, and his great nephew, Matthew.

This was Harry’s second time attending the dinner as he was invited last year after Command Warrant Officer Submarines, Andy Knox, heard that Harry had been robbed of his wallet in his own home.

WO1 Knox took the time to go and visit him in Wigan and since then Harry has been invited to numerous events, celebrating the select group who protect the country undersea.

Last year, Harry also attended the Submariner’s Remembrance Service at Middle Temple Gardens, where he met Prince William who is the Commodore-in-Chief of the Royal Navy Submarine Service.

AB SSM Kaleb Chown helps Rear Admiral John Weale cut the Submarine Birthday cake.  Veteran Harry Melling shakes hands with Commodore James Taylor with Rear Admiral John Weale (right) and WO1 Andy Knox (left).

Harry said: “I am delighted to be here again to celebrate the Submarine Service Birthday and I am as proud today to call myself a Submariner as I was when I first became one.”

At the other end of the spectrum, and in keeping with tradition, the youngest submariner at the dinner, Able Seaman Sonar Submarines (AB SSM) Kaleb Chown (21) joined Rear Admiral Submarines, Rear Admiral John Weale, to cut the magnificent birthday cake. The cake was made in the shape of a submarine and was enjoyed by young and old alike.

To round-off the evening, those attending were addressed by guest speaker, retired Commodore James Taylor OBE who, during his 30 years in the Royal Navy, served on board four different classes of Royal Navy Submarine.

“It is an honour once again to be among fellow submariners. In the year of CASD 50 it is important that no matter what class of Submarine you are from or have served in, one thing unites us all and that is we are all Submariners,” said Commodore Taylor.

“The support from the wider defence industry partners and family are part of the thread that makes us who we are and allows us to carry out our operations so successfully.”

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