Royal Naval sailors have paid a fitting tribute to a Cold War warrior submarine with close links to Rugby.
They took part in a ceremony on Thursday marking the ‘retirement’ of HMS Tireless as it leaves active service.
The submarine was decommissioned at an emotional service in HM Naval Base Devonport after nearly 30 years of largely secret and silent service - with its engines made in Rugby and the vessel ‘adopted’ by the town.
The submarine worked right up to the end and, unusually, was the centre of world events when she helped in the search for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370.
Commanding Officer, Commander Hywel Griffiths said: “Although it is sad to consign her to history, Tireless has achieved much in her nearly 30 year career. Our recent involvement in the search for Malaysian Flight MH370 is testament to her valued contribution right up until the end of her distinguished service at the frontline of Naval Operations.”
As the ceremony took place, including an inspection of the crew, religious service and accompanying Royal Marines Band, the nameplate was removed and White Ensign and Union Flag lowered for the final time on the submarine.
In the past twelve months HMS Tireless has spent just seven weeks in her base port following a deployment to the Mediterranean, a busy maintenance and a final deployment east of Suez.
Leading Seaman Nick Ingledew, 25, said “I joined Tireless at the age of 18 in September 2006 as a trainee submariner and since joining I have now clocked just over 1200 sea days sailing on her. These have included a deployment under the ice to the North Pole, two east-of-Suez deployments, Mediterranean deployment, Submarine Command Courses and taking part in a number of varied operations. I have enjoyed some great runs ashore including Goa, Dubai, Gibraltar and Perth. Sailing up river for the last time as the final Scratcher on Tireless was a day of mixed emotions, one of happiness at the thought of seeing my wife Tanita and daughter Chloe again but also one of great sadness as this will be the end of a big chapter of my life that was Tireless. It has been an honour and given me great pride to serve in Tireless for the last 8 years. She has always been a happy boat and will be missed by all who have served in her”.
There are generations of submariners who have served in HMS Tireless - including some who have only ever been in Tireless.
Petty Officer Dave Helyer, a radio supervisor, joined Tireless as an Able Seaman in 2003 and has since risen through the ranks. On returning for the last time he said “Since joining HMS Tireless in 2003 from my initial training I’ve enjoyed a number of deployments including two under ice deployments, East of Suez deployments and various Atlantic patrols. Since joining Tireless as an Able Rating, I’ve been able to progress to Petty Officer and, now in charge of the Communications department onboard, this has only been possible due to the support and training I have received from the boat. Tireless is known for its professional approach to operations and it gives me great pride to have been able to serve on her for so many years.”
Petty Officer Mike Hyde works in the sonar department. He said: “I have served in HMS Tireless for 11 consecutive years, from AB1, rising to Petty Officer. It has been an honour to serve on one of the most capable Anti-Submarine Warfare platforms in the world. The professionalism and dedication of the countless members of the ship’s company I have served with is a credit to the Royal Navy Submarine Service. As a sonar operator and now a Petty Officer, Tireless has taken me to Europe, the Gulf, India and as far as Australia. I have made friends for life on Tireless and sadly lost some very good shipmates as well. So it was with immense pride, tinged with sadness, that I sailed into Devonport with Tireless on her final voyage before she decommissions.”
HMS Tireless operated as one of the Cold War warriors, out of sight and mind as she deployed for long, secret and often challenging missions in the Atlantic where she patrolled for months at a time. Renowned for her stealth and many successes she enjoys a strong reputation to this day based on the multiple covert roles a Royal Naval submarine follows, including surveillance, intelligence gathering, landing personnel ashore and carrying strike Tomahawk land-attack missiles and anti-ship Spearfish torpedoes.