This is our story.
1: Life on board
It may be a decade since Ian Lofthouse retired from the Royal Navy after a 35-year career as a submariner, but his memories of life on board are as fresh as ever.
After leaving the Navy in 2011, it was a natural decision for Ian to join our Submarines business – a move which has ensured he has remained close to some of the UK’s most advanced and complex programmes. Today he works as Head of Nuclear Discipline for the business, where he has seen first-hand the investment and development as the Dreadnought programme ramps up.
“What drove me here was the variety of responsibilities from day to day. The pace can seem as intense as when you are operating out at sea,” he says. “Even in the time I have been here, there have been massive changes to the structure of the site at Barrow.”
So as a former submariner, who was part of crews on the Trafalgar class, including HMS Trafalgar and HMS Triumph, and earlier on HMS Churchill and HMS Ocelot, what is life really like on board a submarine?
“The first time I would have dived would have been during general Naval training when I was on a diesel electric boat in 1977. The one thing that always stayed with me during my time in the Navy is that you can see submarines are designed to work so well under the water, not on the surface. All the time I was willing us to dive.
Of course a big difference between then and now is connectivity. Modern life ensures people are constantly in touch. During the bulk of Ian’s career in the Navy, online communication was simply not a consideration. The written letter remained the main way to maintain contact with people back home, so he doesn’t believe he felt the lack of connectivity as keenly as the younger generation might.
In fact, he once received a mail drop of several letters numbered 1,2,3 and 5. Number 4 – which was the one which informed him he’d successfully bought a home - was missing and he only received it when he returned to his family.
Despite having left the Navy some time ago, his passion for submarines is unabated and his enthusiasm for our Submarines business likewise. The sheer variety of his role, focussed around people and development of nuclear skills and talents, and the depth of required understanding of what the business does is what motivates him every day.
“When you first go into the Devonshire Dock Hall, the first thing that hits you is the sheer scale,” he adds. “When you go in and all the units of the boat are there, it is really interesting to see people’s faces when they see it for the first time.”
Defence Secretary praises 50 years of service as new submarine is named
The Defence Secretary has announced the fourth Dreadnought submarine as HMS King George VI ahead of a special service at Westminster Abbey on May 3 to recognise the Royal Navy’s Continuous at Sea Deterrent (CASD) over the past 50 years.
Since April 1969, a Royal Navy ballistic missile submarine has patrolled every single day, without interruption, providing the nation’s deterrent and helping keep the UK and our allies safe. This is the UK’s longest sustained military operation ever undertaken and is known as Operation Relentless.
“We pay tribute to those incredible crews, their supportive families, the Royal Navy and the thousands of industry experts who will continue to sustain this truly national endeavour for many years to come.”
CASD50 provides a chance to not only remember the national endeavour of the past half century but to look to the next-generation of ballistic missile submarines, the Dreadnought class. This will consist of four boats helping to ensure the security of generations to come. The Dreadnought-class are expected to enter service in the early 2030s, helping to maintain Operation Relentless.