By Lucy Ashton

HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS Prince William visited the home of the UK Submarine Service at Faslane on the Gareloch today (June 29) to meet with service personnel and to officially open a multi-million-pound training facility.

The Prince, who is Commodore-in-Chief Submarines, spent the afternoon at HM Naval Base Clyde, Scotland’s largest military establishment, beginning with an update on operations delivered by members of the Submarine Flotilla.

While at the site His Royal Highness officially opened the new £34M Submarine Escape, Rescue, Abandonment and Survival (SMERAS) facility.

Known as “Thetis” building, after wartime submarine HMS Thetis which sank in Liverpool Bay in 1939, the facility is used to train Royal Navy Submariners in how to safely escape from a stricken submarine.

The state-of-the-art building features a realistic simulator capable of mimicking a variety of weather conditions and sea states.

Trainers can put students through their paces in the water, giving them the opportunity to practise abandoning a submarine and escaping to life rafts while wind, rain and even thunder and lightning rage around them.

Captain Iain Breckenridge OBE, in charge of submarine training with the navy’s Flag Officer Sea Training organisation, said:  “We were delighted to host our Commodore-in-Chief to open this fantastic and world-leading submarine escape training facility.

“His Royal Highness toured the entire building, met training staff and students, and enjoyed some hands-on operation of the escape towers and wave generator.”

While officially opening the SMERAS facility,  Prince William also signed the guest book on the same page as his grandfather, Prince Philip, did in 1961, and his father, Prince Charles, signed in 1972.

The guest book was inherited by the SMERAS team from the previous submarine training facility, SETT (Submarine Escape Tank Trainer), at HMS Dolphin in Gosport.

Generations of Submariners undertook their training at the Gosport establishment’s famous escape tower before its closure last year.

The new SMERAS facility at HM Naval Base Clyde has taken up the baton, becoming the site where all current and future Submariners will be trained in vital escape skills.

SMERAS is part of the transformation of the Naval Base into the Submarine Centre of Specialisation.

Other development work underway at the site includes the construction of a new £100M Submarine Training School.

Royal Navy Submarine School training is currently held at HMS Raleigh in Cornwall but will be transferred to the new Faslane facility in the future, along with the Defence School of Marine Engineering, the Nuclear Systems Group and Nuclear Department and HMS Sultan in Gosport.

More than 6,700 civilians and Service personnel are employed at HM Naval Base Clyde with this number set to increase in preparation for the arrival of the Dreadnought class of submarines, the next generation of the deterrent at the end of the decade.

Commodore Jim Perks OBE, Head of the Royal Navy Submarine Service, said:  “This visit has been an excellent and important opportunity to update the Submarine Service’s Commodore-in-Chief on recent operations.

“It has also provided us with an opportunity to highlight the ongoing work on the Clyde to make the Naval Base the Royal Navy’s Submarine Centre of Specialisation.

“These are exciting times to be a submariner at HM Naval Base Clyde as we continue to shape the future of the Service.”

Serving submariners were also able to speak with The Prince outside of HM Naval Base Clyde’s Neptune Building Supermess at the site’s Submariners’ Memorial Garden.

The Prince heard from personnel about life in the Submarine Service, and  about ongoing initiatives aimed at helping to improve mental health of members of the armed forces.

His Royal Highness Prince William has been Commodore-in-Chief Submarines since 2006.

He has previously visited attack submarine HMS Artful at sea in 2016 where he presented dolphins badges to newly qualified Submariners and conducted his first submarine dive.

The Prince has also presented deterrent pins to Submariners at HM Naval Base Clyde and  also attended a service at Westminster Abbey in 2020 which marked 50 years of the Continuous At Sea Deterrent.

Submariners at HMNB Clyde have been putting their new training facility through its paces. The new SMERAS trainer allows the men and women of the silent service to experience abandoning a submarine from below the waves and on the surface. The new Faslane facility will see all submariners pass through its doors on their way to becoming submariners.

Picture Captions:

HRH Prince William receives a tour of the new SMERAS facelift; His Royal Highness meeting Royal Navy Submariners undergoing escape training;  HRH Prince William, Commodore-in-Chief of the Submarine Service, with Commodore Jim Perks OBE, Head of the Submarine Service, during the official opening and Submariners demonstrate their escape skills within SMERAS.



  1. This money should have been used to build new affordable Council Homes to house some of the 3,000 applicants on our housing waiting lists, instead of being spent in the Nuclear Base.

  2. Aren’t we so lucky to have future King Billy visiting us with his visit timed to a few days before the 12th of July.

  3. Are we too complacent? Why do we sit on our hands and let others do the heavy lifting when it comes to telling the powers that be that we are displeased with some of their decisions? Not just displeased, but dismayed.
    Why are the SNP embarking on yet another push for independence using a wee nag when, if we are going to be led at all in this, it should be by a thoroughbred? Tall and strong with lots of black type after his/her name.
    Boris Johnston must be delighted that Nicola Sturgeon has backed My Little Pony to win the Referendum race.
    I have more chance of winning the Epsom Derby than the SNP have of standing in the winning enclosure after the indy race.
    It has been pointed out here that HM the Queen and her grandson, Prince William, are on a Royal Tour of Scotland at the minute.
    Well, that is what their visit to Faslane and the Irn Bru factory – made in Scotland from girders – is being sold to the public as.
    What is actually happening is that the Scottish electorate are being softened up for the big day when they go to the ballot box to vote in Indyref 2.
    Who can argue against the facts currently being widely spun around here? A new submarine escape facility for Britain’s nuclear fleet, which cost £34 million.
    A further £100 million on similar equipment on the Gareloch and Firth of Clyde. Not to mention 6,700 local jobs to go with the whole thing. Many years ago, as a much younger journalist, I had a conversation with a Lord Leiutenant who told me he had been called to a meeting at the Palace of Holyroodhouse. The agenda was simple and straightforward. It was a to compile a programme of events which would make the Union and Prince Charles in particular look well in the eyes of the Scottish public. The Prince’s marriage to Diana was in turmoil at the time. It was particularly important that the Lords Lieutenant, the Knights of the Thistle et al, put their heart and soul into this. They won. The SNP said they were content with the result of that first Indyref. It would be another generation before they called for another vote,they pledged. They are doing that now. Calling for a vote when they promised not to. They have as much chance of winning as Geordie Young’s old horse for his milk cart would have had against Shergar. Oh, I almost forgot, there was the small matter of £14.5 BILLION from Westminster to deal with Covid.

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