HMS Sceptre

Discussion in 'Submariners' started by janner, Apr 14, 2008.

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  1. janner

    janner War Hero Book Reviewer

    Note to Mods....this is in the public domain through the local press and circulations to schools. No Persec or Opsec issues


    PRESS RELEASE

    Dorset submariners have greeted, with much pleasure, the news that HMS SCEPTRE (Commander SA Waller, Royal Navy), one of only two SWIFTSURE Class Fleet Submarines (SSNs) still in service, is to visit Portland on 14th April.

    2008 is the 50th Anniversary of the first occasion that USS NAUTILUS, the world’s first nuclear powered submarine, berthed alongside at Portland. This had followed a visit the previous year, the first outside the USA, when the vessel had secured to a USN submarine tender anchored in the harbour. Many more visits by both Royal Navy and United States Navy nuclear vessels were to follow.

    Robbie Roberts, Chairman of the Dorset Branch of the Submariners’ Association, said today that many of the Branch members worked in defence companies based in South Dorset, some of them in support of the new ASTUTE class, presently building at the BAE yard in Barrow-in-Furness, and the links with the officers and men of today’s Submarine Flotilla were strong. The local defence companies include QinetiQ, BAE Systems, Drumgrange, BMT and Thales.

    “We are delighted that SCEPTRE is coming so soon after TIRELESS which, at the end of last year, made the first visit to Portland by a nuclear submarine since Portland Port took over the former Naval Base in 1996. They can be assured of a warm welcome by former submariners in this part of the world and we look forward to seeing a strong team at a reception we will be holding for them. The Commanding Officer will be taking advantage of the opportunity to award dolphins, the badge earned by all ranks once they have completed the demanding requirements to be a fully qualified submariner, and he has invited our senior member, Gordon Newman, who served in X-Craft, the midget submarines of the Second World War, to take part in a ceremony which will bridge the 60 years between then and now.â€

    This will not be the first association between an HMS SCEPTRE and X-Craft, since, during the Second World War, the previous submarine of that name, under the command of Lieutenant (later Vice Admiral Sir) Ian McIntosh took part in several operations, as the towing submarine, including an audacious attack by X-24, on a German battleship in Bergen. She became known as “Bring them back alive Sceptre†as, uniquely, she never lost one of the midget submarines entrusted to her care.

    The present HMS SCEPTRE was first commissioned on St Valentines Day 1978 and, 30 years later, Commander Rob Forsyth, her first Captain, and the officers who stood by the submarine as she was being built at Barrow and then took her to sea for her early years of operations with the Fleet, have been invited back on board for their first ever reunion. They will be able to pay tribute to the skills of the Vickers shipyard workers and the care and the professionalism of successive ship’s companies that have enabled SCEPTRE, now fitted with the most modern of weapon systems, to remain a highly effective war fighting machine, demonstrably capable of deploying covertly on extended patrols to every corner of the world in support of Great Britain’s defence and diplomacy.

    SCEPTRE’s Second-in-Command in those early years, was Rupert Best, now President of the Dorset Submariners, and he remembers the day the boat was launched in November 1976 with affection.

    “So far as I am awareâ€, he says, “SCEPTRE is the only submarine, and possibly the only Royal Naval warship, to have been launched with a bottle of cider. The then Taunton Cider Company presented a bottle of Pommia, their bottle-fermented cider, made in the same way as champagne, to be broken over the bows by our sponsor, Lady White. Watching the ship that is to be your home and the focus of your professional life for the next few years, slide down the ways and take the water for the first time can be quite an emotional moment. I am glad to say that we kept alive the links with Taunton for some while after that and I well remember a day during a two week stay at Portland, when a cricket match against the cidermen on the Officers’ Field was followed by skittles at one of their local pubs. I think we lost both matches but I am sure we held our own when it came to consuming the product.â€

    At that stage, SCEPTRE was based in Devonport but, for the past 25 years, this West Country christened submarine has operated from Faslane, on the Clyde. The links with the cider industry are being renewed, first in the Orchards & Cider marquee at the Royal Bath & West Show at the time of the Trafalgar Bicentenary, and again this week when the former Taunton Chairman, together with today’s Managing Director of Gaymers, now the owner of the Taunton brands, visit the submarine bringing with them, it is rumoured, a bottle or two for the men onboard.




    The Dorset Branch of the Submariners’ Association

    The Branch, which is one of the longest established in the United Kingdom, is some 35 strong and meets monthly. Occasional visits are arranged and a serving or recently retired submarine Admiral generally attends the annual President’s Dinner. The Branch has particular concern for elderly submariners and the widows of former members. On 16th June 2005, the Dorset Association organised the creation and dedication of a memorial on the Portland Heights to those who lost their lives after a high test peroxide torpedo explosion that led to the sinking of HMS SIDON in Portland Harbour, fifty years earlier.

    New members are always welcome and contact should be made with the Secretary/Treasurer, Brian Hodder on 01305-853769 e-mail [email protected]. Further information can be found on the website www.dorsetsubmariners.org.uk.


    13th April 2008
     
  2. Thanks for announcing that, pity it wasn't earlier, so we could brow beat the boss into arranging a fact finding visit.
     
  3. I was recently talking to an ex submariner and his wife /whom i mentioned to that Capt I S mcINTOSH was the skipper of my last ship Victorious 66/67 they used to visit him whilst he was in care in later life at Alverchurch / they spoke with fond effections/storys of Sir Ian / and miss him still /dave
     
  4. Sceptre has had some exceptional crews overs the years; none more so than the crew of the 'special running' era! Hell they were a fine team...and record breakers.

    We thought we were good on Swiftsure but Sovereign, Superb, Sceptre and Splendid proved to be just as good! They were some fine times. Not forgetting the Yank boat mind...Spartan!

    What a squadron that was. Sea time and plenty of it...operating right at the tip of the pointy end...alone and unsupported except for satelite intel!
    Would I do it again...youbetcha!
     
  5. Seaweed

    Seaweed War Hero Book Reviewer

    Think about the next generation but one who are interested in our naval history - where are they going to read about all this? Obviously it can't be published now or for a very long time hence, but I hope chaps like Seljuk will put down their story so that it can surface when the time is right .. and explain it, because in fifty years' time what life on board was like in a Cold War submarine will otherwise be (a) incomprehensible and (b) unbelievable. Try reading about life in a WW1 boat ..or even the WW2 surface navy with steam and sprayers and seaboats and chinagraph pencils and morse code & hammocks & open bridges &&& ..
     
  6. Seaweed,
    The problem with putting stuff like that down on paper or in a computer is that it has to be kept somewhere for safety. My sea chest?...Yep I've really got one but it has no padlock on it. There's no room inside anyway, all the charts showing buried treasure....X spots the mark and such along with my cutlass, sexton, parrot and timber leg are all in the way!
    I think I'll just keep it all in my head and worry the Government by threatening to go abroad....somewhere out East...Dammit...they've got ahead of me and put those bits out of bounds!!!!
     
  7. What a bloody good run that was, we all enjoyed ourselves.

    The people of Portland/Weymouth made us feel really welcome and the rig run was easily one of the best i have ever had.
     
  8. Good dit! SCEPTRE was, memorably, stuck in Rosyth for a long while (present CO was XO then) and spent ages "about to sail" then not sailing. When I left, she was as shiny as the day she was built after all the cleaning and training that we did. It was great to see the pictures of her finally going under the Forth Bridges.
     
  9. janner

    janner War Hero Book Reviewer

    If you would like to PM me an email address (not MOD) I'll send you some pics of the Dolphins ceremony, perhaps you could pass them on to those involved
     
  10. I was there taking photos for the boat so i have my own collection, however if you would like some of mine then i will gladly send them to you.

    PM pn way
     
  11. janner

    janner War Hero Book Reviewer

    Thanks, glad you enjoyed your run, good to see some of the lads in rig as well
     
  12. I was one of the guys in rig as well. Some of the lads went into the town centre afterwards and were slightly wary in case there was trouble. None of them brought a drink for the rest of the night and were treated fantastically well.
     
  13. janner

    janner War Hero Book Reviewer

    I bottled out early as I was driving, but most seemed "happy" when I left, didn't get as good an offer as I did from the Tireless lads, they tried to get me to the lap dancing club with them, luckily for once in my life my brain worked and I declined. Mrs janner agrees that I made the right decision for once
     

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