Jubilant family members and friends cheered the submariners home to HM Naval Base Devonport, Plymouth, from a ten-and-a-half-month deployment east of Suez, the longest Royal Naval submarine deployment in ten years.
A military band and a balloon ‘sculptor’ entertained families while they waited patiently for the submarine to return from a very successful deployment.
HMS Tireless deployed to fulfil the MOD’s enduring commitment to permanently maintain a submarine in the Middle East in support of UK interests. She predominantly worked alone in the traditional submarine role, conducting covert missions including support of counter-terrorism, counter-narcotics and counter-piracy operations.
This resulted in the crew having no communications with the outside world for almost half of their time away in order to act with the greatest possible secrecy.
The Commanding Officer of HMS Tireless, Commander Jason Clay, was met yesterday by his overjoyed wife Tamsin and sons two-and-a-half-year-old Harry, and Miles, aged seven months.
Commander Clay said:
At over 10 months, this has been the longest submarine deployment in recent history, and one which the ship’s company are justifiably proud of.
I’m absolutely delighted to see that so many family and friends have made the trip to Devonport to welcome us back, not least because without their support our job would have been considerably more difficult.
Given recent events, the Royal Navy is working as hard as ever and HMS Tireless is no exception. For many of us, it will be business as usual from tomorrow as we start to get the boat ready again for any potential operations.
Able Seaman Marc Robson, aged 26, from Plymouth, was greeted on the jetty by his fiancee, Carly Spencer. The pair are due to get married at the end of May:
It’s so good to see Carly again. I have missed her,” said AB Robson. “I was very upset when we were all told the boat was to be delayed coming back by two months. But that makes it even better to see her again. It was also touch and go whether I would be back in time to help prepare for the wedding, but luckily I got back in time.
Fitted with highly capable Spearfish torpedoes and Tomahawk land attack cruise missiles, HMS Tireless sailed in July 2010 for a routine deployment including exercises and the traditional role of a submarine in the ‘Silent Service’ - an unobtrusive patrol.
In August, HMS Tireless made its inaugural transit of the Suez Canal whilst en route to the Gulf. Although generally a common event for most naval vessels, this was the first time HMS Tireless had done so, even though the submarine was commissioned in the mid-1980s.
In a significant first for a Royal Navy submarine, HMS Tireless supported a French carrier battle group in the Indian Ocean while the group was conducting live air strikes over Afghanistan. The mission involved operating ahead of the task group, providing indicators and warnings against a range of potential threats.
This was one of the first opportunities for the UK to support the UK/France Defence and Security Co-operation Treaty signed last year.
The submarine has completed 307 days away from the UK and travelled in excess of 35,000 miles (56,300km). The crew now has a long period of deserved leave.