One of the great untold stories of the British services is that of the Royal Navy Submarine Service which entered the fray in World War I with 100 underwater craft. Through World War II, where submariners’ prospects of returning safely from a mission were only 50:50, the Falklands conflict and the sinking of the Belgrano, to present-day elite machines, the Silent Service has played an enormous part in British defence. John Parker’s in-depth investigation is very much personality led with diaries from the early part of the century to substantial first-person testimony from survivors of wartime heroics (when many VCs were won).
This book was written at sea, on HMS Fearless, during evenings sat down in front of the technical office computer, as the ship gently swayed around me. It was almost written as it happened. Once each event had occurred, the requisite chunk was written and sent on to the close-in-range weapons workshop where Terry captured the mood of each occasion deftly with his pen and ink illustrations. It tells of the events during one year near the latter end of the life of the Fearless; one of the Royal Navy’s most unique ships, both in history and construction –not to mention the human and mechanical idiosyncrasies that seemed to be in manifest abundance within its metal hull.
The Fearless was a left-over from a previous generation of ships; the last steam powered vessel in the Royal Navy, and as such, its crew were also a left over; many had been coming back to it time and again from as far back as the ‘seventies. This meant that it was also ‘Old Navy’ in the outlooks and attitudes of the ship’s company.
The story is told from the point of view of the lower deck, to be precise from that of NCOs, and attempts to capture the tone and humour and attitudes of that now-vanished microcosm of Navy Life. For that reason it is unapologetically ‘politically incorrect’, and is not in any way a reflection of the Navy as it is now. Moreover, the opinions expressed within are those of the author and the people he knew and in no way reflect the policy of either the Royal Navy or the MOD.
As you read this, a classified number of the Royal Navy’s deadly nuclear submarines lurk undetected in the depths of the world’s oceans. Completely self-sufficient for months at a time, they lie in wait, ready to watch, listen, intercept or attack wherever they may be needed, from the Mediterranean coast of Libya, to the ice caps of the Arctic. And should the UK be devastated by a nuclear strike, they might just be the last military force standing. Because of this they carry the Letter of Last Resort, a handwritten document from the Prime Minister outlining what form of action should be taken.
Award-winning journalist and bestselling author Danny Danziger has been allowed unprecedented access to one of the attack class submarines of the ‘silent service’, joining the crew on operations, living among them and hearing their stories. This book is the result of his experience, and provides a fascinating insight into the lives of those whose job it is to man the Uk’s most formidable weapons system. Unrestricted and uncompromising, it paints a vivid picture of this enigmatic branch of our armed forces.