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Sunday, 21 September 2014

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Proud submarine’s crew get together for reunion

OLD shipmates from a Barrow-built nuclear submarine which fought in the Falklands War 30 years ago are heading to Furness for a big reunion.

The former crew members of HMS Courageous will be in town all this weekend for events which include a reception at the Royal British Legion Club, the annual meeting of the HMS Courageous Association and a dinner.

The reunion will be attended by the man in charge of Britain’s submarine fleet, Rear Admiral Submarines, Ian Cordor.

There will also be a visit to the BAE shipyard to see new Astute submarines, including HMS Ambush which is due to leave Barrow this year.

The April reunion commemorates the 20th anniversary of the decommissioning of Courageous on April 10 in 1992 and its part in the Falklands War which began in April 1982.

The submarine has become a popular museum based at Devonport, Plymouth.

It earned its reputation in service during the Cold War between the Western allies and the then Communist Russia.

It was one of the nuclear powered submarines that helped Britain retake the Falklands Islands after the invasion by Argentina.

The sub and its crew helped pin down the Argentine fleet in port to stop it attacking the British task force of ships.

Four former Courageous submariners live in Barrow and surrounding districts, including Ken Collins, a former chief marine engineering mechanic who received a special commendation for his ship management and leadership skills during the Falklands conflict.

Mr Collins, of Ormsgill Lane, Barrow, said: “We will obviously toast fallen comrades at the AGM and dinner.”

The last Courageous reunion, in Plymouth in 2010, attracted more than 200 people.

A large framed cartoon showing characters at work in the submarine has been presented to Mr Collins for organising the reunion.

Mr Collins is a member of the Barrow Submariners Association and was its chairman for 13 years.

The Barrow branch of the Submariners Association now has 170 members.

Some like Mr Collins, 65, work as consulting contractors at BAE, working on Astute Class submarines. Nicknamed the Mean Machine by her crew, Courageous had her keel laid in Barrow in May 1968.

She was launched in March 1970 and commissioned into the navy in 1971, serving 21 years on patrols which included top secret classified missions.

She had a crew of 103 seamen and 13 officers.

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