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Thursday, 24 July 2014

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Sadness and pride over Barrow built sub’s last voyage

SHIPYARD workers have spoken fondly of a Barrow built submarine as the boat made its final journey home to the UK ahead of decommissioning.

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final journey HMS Tireless makes her way back to Plymouth ahead of decommissioning. The boat was launched in Barrow 30 years ago. Insets: HMS Tireless on active service, and Brian Benn, who helped to build her

HMS Tireless was built by VSEL in Barrow and launched almost 30 years ago in 1984.

The nuclear-powered sub, the third Trafalgar-class boat, returned to her base port in Plymouth last Sunday for the last time.

HMS Tireless originally operated as one of the Cold War warriors, out of sight and mind as she deployed for long, secret and often dangerous missions out into the Atlantic patrolling for months at a time searching for and stalking her Russian opponents.

As the boat faces being dismantled, those who helped to build her recalled memories of the submarine’s construction.

Brian Benn has worked at the shipyard in Barrow for more than 37 years and has worked on 31 different vessels.

In the early 1980s, he worked on HMS Tireless after completing his apprenticeship as a plater.

He fabricated items like seats, fins and hydroplanes for the submarine and now uses his experience to co-ordinate the shipyard’s visits and events.

Mr Benn said: “It is always sad to see a submarine complete its service.

“Whenever I see submarines and vessels built in the shipyard I feel very proud – proud that I got to play my part in their construction and proud that something so incredible was built here in Barrow.

“When the remaining T-boats retire it really will be an end of an era, but it’s great that I get to be a part of the state-of-the-art Astute class which will take their place.”

Today, Tony Holmes is the man at the controls of the transfer system that moves a submarine from inside the Devonshire Dock Hall out onto the shiplift during its launch – a job he has done since the hall opened in 1986.

The former shipwright apprentice, who has just celebrated 40 years’ service, was also involved in the launch of HMS Tireless.

He said: “You get used to hearing about vessels completing their service – it’s part of the job when you’ve been here as long as I have.

“HMS Tireless’ launch was very different to the launches you see today. Back then I was involved in setting up the slipways for a dynamic launch from the berths.

“Crowds used to line up along Walney Channel to see the giant wave when the submarine hit the water.

“Artful’s recent launch was a world away from Tireless’. Now it is far easier, less exhausting and less risky – but not quite as exciting.”

One of HMS Tireless’ most recent missions was to assist with the search for missing Malaysian plane MH370.

During her service, the boat was also recognised for having completed the longest deployment by a British submarine at the time, for a 10-month mission.

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