Send her Victorious – nuclear submarine’s crew celebrate divisions in Scotland

Victorious always – and proud of it. Escaping the elements are the men of Her Majesty’s Ship Victorious, charged with the most important task among the Royal Navy’s many missions around the globe: the nation’s continuous at sea deterrence.

Some 130 ‘deeps’ from the nuclear submarine’s starboard crew formed up for Ceremonial Divisions – held indoors at the Clyde Offsite Centre, just down the road from the boat’s Faslane home, due to the particularly grim weather currently lashing Scotland.

Each of the four deterrent boats – Victorious, plus her sisters Vanguard, Vigilant, and Vengeance (currently in the later stages of a three-and-a-half year revamp in Devonport) – has two crews as part of the Silent Service’s enduring commitment to carry out round-the–clock patrols.

One crew is actually in charge of the boat, while another back at base undergoing training, courses, perhaps enjoying leave, so that once a boat returns from patrol or training exercise, they can take charge – and thus ensure a permanent presence at sea going back to the late 1960s.

Victorious always – and proud of it.

Guest of honour at divisions was Michael Powell, Prime Warden of the Worshipful Company of Gold and Silver Wyre Drawers – a trade going back at least six centuries, producing gold and silver thread for uniforms or ceremonial clothing – which is one of the V-boat’s numerous affiliates.

Mr Powell was joined by the deputy head of the Silent Service, Cdre Mike Walliker, inspecting the massed ranks of submariners before a social event at Helensburgh Rugby Club, paid for by Sir Donald Gosling, a long-standing friend and benefactor of the RN.

All qualified submariners in Victorious’ crew, wore the famous dolphin badge – the symbol which shows that someone knows their boat in and out and is permitted to join an elite band of underwater warriors – as did naval chaplain the Rev Gordon Warren who provided the spiritual element to proceedings.

And given Victorious’ mission, many of her crew donned the ‘patrol pin’ – officially the RN Deterrent Patrol Pin: HMS Resolution, with a Polaris missile, wreathed in bands of electrons to represent nuclear power and bearing the motto ‘always ready’ – which recognises their unique service.

The pin was introduced for V-boat crews back in 2010 – silver for every man who has sailed on a deterrent patrol for more than 30 days, gold for submariners who have completed 20 or more patrols (which amounts to around five years submerged on operations – and that’s not counting the training beforehand).

The design of the pin pays homage to Resolution, the very first deterrent boat, which conducted the first patrol with Polaris missiles on June 15 1968.

Not a day has been missed since the round-the-clock patrols began, with submariners past and present having successfully conducted upwards of 300 missions, well over 100 of them by the V-boats, which replaced the R-boats from the early 1990s onwards.