EASTER WEEKEND SAW THE MAYORESS, HELEN BALL, ROBERT HANDLEY AND MYSELF OFF TO SCOTLAND AND TAKING TO THE WATER IN HMS TALENT, A NUCLEAR POWERED TRAFALGAR CLASS HUNTER KILLER SUBMARINE. HMS TALANT IS AFFILIATED TO SHREWSBURY AND TALENT WAS GRANTED THE FREEDOM OF THE TOWN A NUMBER OF YEARS AGO.
SATURDAY 7th APRIL
Found the Mayoress, Robert (Mayors Officer) Helen (Town Clark) and myself heading North to the North of Scotland a full days driving with a couple of stops on route.
All smiles as they have just had lunch with Loch Lomond in the background what a great place to have lunch on a Saturday afternoon, but we still had a way to go.
The plinth of the memorial records the Commando’s motto United We Conquer and a plaque states: “In Memory of the Officers and men of the Commandos who died in the Second World War 1939 – 1945. This Country was their Training Ground.”
We then went on our final leg of the journey to our hotel.
After a ten and a half hours since we had left home we arrived, ready for a meal and some malt.
The view from our hotel with the calm saltwater loch just across the road. Pity that it was raining so hard when we arrived. The hotel was warm and dry and the food plus Malt very welcome.
A LITTLE BIT OF INFORMATION ABOUT HMS TALENT.
HMS Talent – a technically advanced, nuclear powered ‘hunter-killer’ submarine. HMS Talent is the penultimate platform of seven Trafalgar Class submarines. Launched by HRH Princess Anne in Barrow in Furness in 1988 the Submarine has conducted operations all around the world. The principal role of the ‘hunter-killer’ is to attack ships and other submarines. In this capacity they could support and protect a convoy or taskforce. Additionally Talent can be used in a surveillance role as she is fitted with cameras and thermal imaging periscopes. Talent is also fitted with Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAM) which gives the boat a land attack role. Talent is currently in her home port of Devonport in Plymouth having just completed a deep maintenance period where she emerged with an enhanced equipment capability early in 2012.
Below is a pictorial of pictures taken during our visit to HMS Talent. Some of the pictures have been retouched so as not to show any shall we say sensitive details as I am sure you will understand and agree. I will at a later date put in more of this Easter Weekend engagement on a separate page as I did with the St Chads pictorial. Please enjoy the below.
SUNDAY 8th APRIL EASTER SUNDAY ABOARD HMS TALENT
Today was an early start with the hotel leaving us food and milk etc out for us to sort out. As dawn was about to break we gathered our stuff plus 140 packets of Easter Eggs (Yes Easter Eggs we do think of the crew, can’t go empty handed). Got into the car and headed off to a small Navy base where we had to sign in and await our taxi to HMS Talent.
On the quayside just the four of us wondering if we were in the right place, then all of a sudden a support ship came into view and pulled along the quay for us to jump aboard without stopping, we were off out to sea.
The support ship pulled alongside and a walkway put across for us to transfer over to Talent. As soon as we were aboard the support ship left Talent and us as she headed back to land. Once aboard we were shown below and were given the standard Health and Safety routine as well as methods of breathing air in emergencies. We were then allowed up to the conning tower as she moved slowly ahead.
What a fantastic feeling standing in the coning tower of a submarine whilst she is moving through the water at sea wow!!! All round vision and no sounds just the water passing us although the fog cut down the distance we could see to 5,000 metres. Now its time to go below and it will soon be time for our very first dive in a submarine, whist up in the coning tower you notice just how quite Talent is when moving on the surface, after being on the support ship you really notice the peace. I have challenged people throughout my Mayoral year for people to step outside of their comfort zone, today Tricia the Mayoress is doing just that, she does not like heights and was unsure about being inside a submarine and diving under the water was also a fear, not as much as heights, yet she managed the three sets of ladders up the coning tower and that was not an easy climb either up or down believe me. We then had to drop down into the bridge so that the submarine could dive below the surface.
Once below we were taken to the ward room for bacon and sausage baps and some really good coffee. We stayed submerged for 11 hours and during that time we were given a tour of the boat from top to bottom from bow to stern, cold end to hot end.
We were given a fantastic lunch, afterwards we listened to the sonar and we could hear sonar that was looking for us, at no time did we feel as if we were submerged and could only detect the slightest of movement either up/down or sideways as we turned one way or another.
The above is the Freedom of the Town Seal granted to HMS Talent and is signed by the then Mayor of Shrewsbury & Atcham Borough Council Cllr George Richey. Below it was the time that Commander John Aitken asked me if I would like to take the helm and when asked bring her to the surface. I jumped at the chance and was in the seat quicker than anyone has seen me move.
And that was my training completed and I then had control of the helm and brought her up to the surface.
I wondered whilst doing this would Rolls Royce allow me to just jump into one of their cars and just drive it down the road, I mean this boat it costs billions and there was little old me born in Ford living in Monkmoor at the helm of a nuclear powered submarine in, I think somewhere in the Irish Sea. What a fantastic feeling and honour I felt a real buzz.
Once Talent was surfaced we were invited down into the Ward Roomfor a special ceremony. The Commander filled four glasses of Navy Rum and then dropped a twin dolphin submariners badge in each. We were then told that to be able to wear the coveted submariners dolphins you have to drink this glass down in one go and catch the dolphin in your teeth. Seeing we had in fact not just been on board but to have gone to sea and dived as well as taken the helm we were told we were entitled to wear these with pride and we did what was asked of us and we do wear them with pride and we are proud to be/feel part of this tight community called submariners.
I don’t think they thought that us land lovers could knock back Navy rum like we all did, their faces says it all. You will see us around town wearing our dolphins at certain times at certain events I am sure, I think you will agree we have earned that.
What a day, something that I think we will always remember and I just wonder what our grandchildren’s teachers will think when they tell them that their grandparents have been in a nuclear powered submarine and spent hours under water. I know Helen can’t wait to show her kids and mother her pictures, and Robert will have fun telling the many people he meets during his working day/night. As it is we are tired, happy and look forward to an enjoyable evening at our hotel, the one we left over 12 hours ago. Our trip back on the Omagh took over an hour and dusk was on us when we landed at the quayside.
The Easter Eggs. They were really welcomed as they had run out of chocolate and we were told that submariners live for their chocolate. When we get back we are going to send Talent our new Shrewsbury Town Council Shield that they told us they would place on their Ward Room wall.
I would like to say a big thank you to the Officers Crew and Commander of HMS Talent for allowing us to be part of their tight family for the day. Also we look forward to this years Dragon Boat race and hope that some members of the crew are able to attend, we all know that with the troubles around the world Talent being on deployment means they could be requested to go anywhere at anytime, and when they do deeply our thoughts and prayer goes with them, I know that I can say this on behalf of all the residents of Shrewsbury.
MONDAY 9th APRIL OUR JOURNEY HOME
What a view when having your breakfast, looking out of the window early it was snowing then raining then the fog came in, by breakfast it was cold, dry and what a view.
We came back through Edinburgh and we found out that it was only seven miles further than the Glasgow route we took on our journey up.
When we got back into England we faced some really heavy rain all the way down the M6 until we got below Preston. We stopped off before we left the M6 and arrived back home after 8pm with loads of happy memories.
HMS Talent is 85.4 metres long and 9.8 metres wide, she weighs 4,740 Tonnes surfaced and 5,298 dived. So she is not a little submarine, but every inch of space inside is put to good use, she is a war platform yet saying that there is a good deal of comfort for those who serve on her. Please click on the following to go to the Talent Web-Site. Thank you: http://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/The-Fleet/Submarines/Fleet-Submarines/Trafalgar-Class/HMS-Talent
Above crew members of HMS Talent pictured at Shrewsbury Castle the day before they won the June 2011 Dragon Boat Race. Below Crew members of HMS Talent pictured also at the castle before Remembrance Day November 2011
I hope you have enjoyed this page and will support HMS Talent in the future. Thank you I know it is a long blog but has to be to give our engagement and time with Talent with as much information as I can to give the full picture.
I would like to thank Commander John Aitken for inviting us onto HMS Talent, the crew for answering our questions and being so kind to us while you continued with your work. I was a fantastic Easter for us all and I know that the name HMS Talent is better known in and around Shrewsbury and Shropshire just by the questions we are being asked about Talent. I hope to see you soon, and we wish you a safe passage whilst you continue to carry out your duties around the world.
Tony, Tricia, Helen and Robert