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First for Tireless

THIS may seem hard to believe – especially for a 26-year-old warship – but Her Majesty’s Submarine Tireless has never passed through the fabled man- made waterway that is the Suez Canal. Until now.

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Then again, if you’re on an eight-month ‘east of Suez’ deployment, it’s pretty hard to avoid. The T-boat slipped away from Devonport at the end of July and won’t see home shores again until March 2011. The fi nal few weeks before deploying saw an intensive 14-day training period in the Channel under the watchful eyes of the exacting team from the Flag Offi cer Sea Training and Captain Submarines, Devonport Flotilla, Capt John Edgell. As they were satisfi ed with the shape of men and materiel,

Tireless could deploy – but not before she’d hosted some old friends.

Or rather young friends: the sea cadets of TS Tireless from Rugby (the boat’s affiliated town).

Next stop for the hunter-killer – Crete. Between equipment trials and exercises, the weather in the Med was hot enough for many of the ship’s company to take avantage of a hands to bathe. Souda Bay afforded a brief ‘pit stop’ for some engineering work, a barbecue on the jetty and a five-a-side tournament (won by the logistics department).

● Just in case you’d forgotten the name of the ship you’re waiting for, here’s a helping hand from some lads on the Mighty At ’Em

from these

enjoyable for everybody on board. That said, there’s no substitute for coming home.” Amen to that. In Devonport,

fl agship HMS Albion sailed back from ‘invading’ the Eastern Seaboard plus one bell. That rather weighty cargo came from one of the great names in 20th Century naval history, dreadnought HMS Valiant. The battleship pounded the


German High Seas Fleet at Jutland, helped maul the Italians at Matapan, was bombed off Crete,

Malta, aided the invasions of Sicily and mainland Italy and finally fought in the Far East before being broken up in 1948. Her bell was presented to

supported convoys to

worthwhile says the assault ship’s CO Capt John Kingwell. “The training opportunities in the USA were absolutely superb – there’s nothing on the same scale here in the UK,” he added. “Both the landing force from 3 Commando Brigade and the ships have been able to hone their operational skills. “Auriga has proved the ship and her crew are ready for anything.” To the Med now and the fi nal

ports of call for HMS St Albans on her way home from the Gulf.

Rear Admiral Brian Egerton, a Valiant veteran from Jutland and Commander-in-Chief Portsmouth in the later stages of WW2. He in turn handed the bell to his nephew, Cdr David Dumas, an Atlantic convoy veteran and the man who helped liberate the Channel Islands in 1945 as CO of destroyer HMS Bulldog.

emigrated to the USA in 1957… which is why one battleship’s bell could be found in the possession of Vietnam veteran and former US Marine Corps Cobra gunship pilot Patrick Dumas, Cdr Dumas’ son.

The Dumas family

She spent six months safeguarding shipping and Iraq’s two oil platforms, and worked very closely with regional navies, especially those of Kuwait.

were few and far between but the journey home allowed the Saints to let their (fairly short) hair down: two top Mediterranean destinations: in under a week: Malta and Barcelona. To Malta first and a spell in magnificent Grand Harbour. The ship hosted visitors for tours while the cricket team played their first (and last) competitive contest of the tour. Despite being stuck in a tin can for six months,

Mr Dumas decided the family heirloom should return to the UK… and one of Her Majesty’s Warships transporting the weighty bell back is somewhat cheaper than sending it by air mail. Once back in the UK, the bell will be installed at the Valiant floating jetty in Faslane, which serves the new breed of Astute-class submarines. The historic bell was presented to the ship when Albion spent a week in New York. After a ceremonial entry

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the cricketers’ skills hadn’t deserted them. It took four runs off the last ball of the game – “a stunning hook over mid-wicket clearing the boundary” – from AB(WS) Wale to clinch a one-wicket victory over Malta CC in the club’s wonderful, ground.

h Runs ashore east of Suez

And so to the Catalan capital and the final stop before home. “On entering the harbour the

ship was met with an astonishing sight as the sun hit the hills surrounding Barcelona – simply beautiful,” enthused Lt Beth Griffiths, the ship’s deputy marine engineer officer. An evening reception brought members of the local military, industry and commerce together, to mingle with other guests from the British Embassy in Madrid and the local diplomatic community. And with formalities done, a bit of relaxation. Footy fans made a bee-line for the Camp Nou, home of FC Barcelona, one of the world’s greatest teams. Sailors who fancied a bit of culture made for Gaudi’s incomplete cathedral

(128 years in the making and at least 16 years still to go…) and the odd one or two wandered down Las Ramblas to the shops and bars.

Merlin, departed as St Albans closed the Cornish coast and there was a lightning visit to Devonport to embark families for the last night at sea as the frigate hugged the south coast before passing the Round Tower.


to the great metropolis, the assault ship berthed at Pier 88 on the Hudson River – the legendary jetty used by liners and more, recently, cruise ships, for more than 70 years. Once alongside, Albion hosted an Olympic-themed reception. With just two years to go to the London games, the ship welcomed American Olympians and British hopefuls on board, plus sponsors, business leaders, and members of veterans organisations,

Britain’s Consul General in New York, Sir Alan Collins. As for Albion’s American workout, Auriga was thoroughly


built for a decade ago: submarine hunting.

The crossing of the western Med saw the Saint return to the role she was

The less sporting minded headed for the beach/shops/ museums/pubs (delete as applicable) before it was time to head west once more.

determination and sheer professionalism of my sailors.” With all these joyous homecomings, spare a thought for the ship’s company of Britain’s biggest warship, HMS Ocean. While the rest of the Auriga task force broke for home after those amphibious exercises, not so the Mighty O.

With the Gulf deployment focusing to a large degree on boarding operations (St Albans had a dedicated Royal Marines team embarked as well as her own boarding party), it’s important that other warfare skills don’t fade. So a team of specialists in anti-

submarine warfare was flown out from the UK to join the ship for the passage to Barcelona to help the ops room with the art of detecting and tracking submarines once more.

satisfying and successful six months, during which we’ve experienced – and risen to – a whole range of challenges,” said St Albans’ CO Cdr Adrian Pierce. “I’ve been consistently impressed by the resilience,

but ultimately And so to home. Lola, the ship’s

The cadets headed down to Devonport on the day of Tireless’ sailing (see page 45), but despite that impending departure, the deeps found time to give the youngsters a comprehensive tour of the boat.

SoS calls on Richmond

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WITH tough decisions ahead, new Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox joined HMS Richmond off the Isle of Wight to witness a day in the life in the RN.

After a top-level briefi ng at the Fleet HQ in Portsmouth on the Navy’s current overseas commitments, the minister was fl own out to the T23 by Merlin. Once on board, more

briefi ngs, this time from the ship’s company who decided to give Dr Fox some hands-on experience.

That meant rat-a-tat- tatting into the Solent with a Minigun and GPMG; donning a fearnought suit for a fi re-fi ghting demonstration; and riding in a RIB as Richmond showed how she would fend off a fast attack craft using fl ares, (blank) rounds and manoeuvring.

And then it was that inaugural passage through Suez to begin her deployment in earnest: a mixture of intelligence gathering and exercising with Allied naval forces in the region.

● Hearty waves from the cadets of TS Tireless as tugs and a police launch shepherd HMS Tireless out of Plymouth Picture: LA(Phot) James Crawford, FRPU West

Whitehall is due to announce its Strategic Defence and Security Review next month – a root and branch overhaul of all three Services and the MOD. “Every option is on the table at the moment and we are looking at all the options with all of the Armed Forces involved,” said Dr Fox. “We are a maritime nation with 92 per cent of our trade going by sea so this is no time for Britain to become sea-blind. “The review is to ensure that our maritime issues are in keeping with what we expect from our Navy.”

Not surprisingly the ship’s company weren’t shy in coming forward when it came to stressing the need for the Senior Service. “I think I probably speak for everyone on board when I say that the Royal Navy needs to be a big part of the defence commitments in the future,” said CPO ‘Dickie’ Emery.

“This has been an, at times, testing,

 Numbers helped and charitable spend to date 1271 and £181,228

The helicopter assault ship has just left Mayport in Florida following a four-week period of maintenance and reconfi guration (and ten days’ leave for her ship’s company in the US of A). She’s due to make a very rare

foray into the South Atlantic (we think it’s the first time she’s crossed the equator, although we may be wrong...).

The emphasis of her deployment shifts to maritime security operations and some amphibious work with the Brazilian Navy around Rio, due to take place in the middle of this month.

Men and women in the Royal Marines and Royal Navy serve their country, often at times of danger: the RNBT serves them and their families, at times of need, throughout their lives. Your donations help us to help them.

The Royal Naval Benevolent Trust Castaway House, 311 Twyford Avenue, Portsmouth PO2 8RN t 023 9269 0112 f 023 9266 0852 e w

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