A crowd of happy loved ones gathered on the jetty at HM Naval Base Devonport, including five fiancees who accepted proposals of marriage while the Trafalgar class submarine was on operations thousands of miles from home.
The crowd waved and cheered, and held homemade greetings banners aloft as the submarine tied up at the wharf after a deployment nearly twice the average patrol length.
HMS Triumph’s Commanding Officer, Commander Rob Dunn, was met by his wife, Lieutenant Commander Trish Kohn. She said:
I am extremely pleased he is back here in Plymouth. It is wonderful to have him home after such a long time.
Cdr Dunn said:
I am relieved to be back home. We had to keep focused on the last leg as we have been coming home for the past month. It has been a long call of duty. We were excellently served by all those concerned while we were out deployed and that includes my ship’s company, who were nothing less than marvelous.
Life on board a nuclear-powered submarine is naturally a tough life, and that includes being at sea for 90 per cent of the time; we were away for 10-and-a-half months.
Over the past 17 months, the nuclear-powered submarine HMS Triumph has been engaged in three core activities. Firstly, patrolling the coastal waters of Libya, providing vital combat support to NATO operations last year.
Among those engaged while on duty on the far side of the world was Lieutenant Megan Keeling of HMS Iron Duke, who accepted the marriage proposal from HMS Triumph’s Lieutenant Jon Bailey. Lt Bailey said:
Megan flew out to see me when we went ashore in Bahrain at Christmas and I proposed to her then. I’d been planning for some time. Triumph is certainly a loved-up boat, and the diamond merchant in Dubai has been doing a roaring trade off us. I am so happy she said yes.
HMS Triumph also acted as the training vessel for the Submarine Command Course or ‘Perisher’, a six-week course designed to put potential commanding officers through their paces.
It is a demanding period for the students, and includes very intensive exercise operations, periscope reconnaissance and attack missions. The high tempo also tests the crew too.
On this occasion one of the successful students was Lieutenant Commander David Crosby who, shortly afterwards, joined HMS Triumph as Executive Officer and Second-in-Command. He said:
The amount of sea time this boat has done over the last 18 months is quite remarkable, and I am proud to have been part of it.
Another excited fiancee, Surgeon Lieutenant Laura Cottey, of HMS Drake in Plymouth, accepted a proposal of marriage from HMS Triumph’s Lieutenant Oliver Morrow, when he was away. He proposed when she went out to United Arab Emirates (UAE) to meet him. The pair met at HMS Drake.
The final part of Triumph’s deployment was undertaken in the Gulf region. During this time, the boat conducted a wide variety of tasking, from training patrols to multi-national exercises, working with the UK’s partners in the region as well as other Royal Navy ships operating in the Gulf.
Port visits have provided the opportunity for wider regional engagement events in Fujairah, UAE, and Bahrain.
A number of distinguished guests visited the submarine, including His Royal Highness The Duke of Wessex, His Royal Highness Salman bin Hamad Isa Al-Khalifa, the Crown Prince of Bahrain, as well as the Chief of the Bahrain Naval Force, Brigadier General Abdulla Saeed Al-Mansoori.
After a final period of operational tasking, in June HMS Triumph returned to Fujairah for a short break before starting the much anticipated journey home.
HMS Triumph is the last of the seven submarines in her class, and was launched 1991. The submarine has a typical crew of 130 personnel of which up to 20 will be officers and can stay at sea unsupported for up to three months - only limited by food supplies.