HMS Trenchant sailors honour submarine hero

Sailors from the Royal Navy’s Plymouth-based submarine HMS Trenchant have honoured the memory of a colleague awarded the military’s ultimate mark of courage.

A team of submariners helped unveil a Blue Plaque to honour Lieutenant Richard Sandford who became a hero of the First World War Zeebrugge Raid and was rewarded with the Victoria Cross.

The plaque, marking Lt Sandford’s birth place, in Cathedral Close, Exeter, was unveiled by the sailors from the Devonport-based boat who also provided the honour guard for the event.

They were joined by their commanding officer Commander Rob Watts.

It is very important to remember our fellow submarine brothers-in-arms, particularly those who paid the ultimate sacrifice and whom were awarded the highest honour.

Commander Rob Watts RN

Commander Watts said: “It is very important to remember our fellow submarine brothers-in-arms, particularly those who paid the ultimate sacrifice and whom were awarded the highest honour.

“I am very proud that HMS Trenchant provided a suitable guard to mark this important occasion of our submarine heritage.”

The Zeebrugge Raid in Belgium was a daring plan by the Royal Navy to blockade the Imperial German Navy and prevent them sailing their highly effective U-Boat submarines from port. 

Lt Sandford was 26 when he commanded the submarine, HMS C3 and used it effectively as an explosive device to help prevent them sailing and sinking Allied shipping.

In April 1918 at Zeebrugge he sailed with a  crew of only six sailors on board.

He skilfully placed his vessel under a viaduct which connected the submarine beths to the land and helped supply them. 

He then laid his fuse, abandoned his submarine and successfully destroyed the viaduct, cutting off a vital supply line to the submarine garrison.

HMS Trenchant is one of four Trafalgar Class submarines in service with the Royal Navy and is approaching the end of a three-year maintenance package. 

She will be ready to deploy on operations armed with Spearfish torpedoes and the latest Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles with strike ranges well in excess of 1,000 miles in-land.

She has state-of-the-art satellite communication technology  and is capable of operating alone or in support of other units in a task force.