A VERY large piece of history was made 20 years ago when the last of the giant Barrow-built Trident ballistic missile submarines was officially handed over to the Royal Navy.

The Mail, on Monday, November 29 in 1999, noted: "The last of Britain's Trident submarines was handed over to the Royal Navy amid pomp and ceremony on Saturday.

"HMS Vengeance was commissioned at Devonshire Dock as members of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament staged a peaceful protest on Michaelson Road Bridge.

"Police patrolled the area on foot and boat, prepared for any disruption to the service that was attended by Nato Secretary General and former Defence Minister Lord Robertson.

"His wife, Lady Sandra Robertson, performed the handing over ceremony and inspected the guard.

"Chaplain of the Fleet, the Reverend Dr Charles Stewart, led the blessings of the submarine alongside principal Anglican chaplain the Venerable Simon Golding and principal Roman Catholic chaplain, the Reverend Monsignor Tom Burns.

"The Royal Navy Band belted out traditional naval tunes.

"Vengeance will join the three other Barrow-built subs at the Faslane naval base on the Clyde.

"The sub was rolled out last September.

"Seven vessels of the Royal Navy have borne the name Vengeance.

"Marconi Marine managing director Dr Robert Rigby paid tribute to the Barrow workforce.

"He said it was the end of an era with Vengeance being the last Trident sub to come from the yard."

He said: "We are very proud. We are in a very competitive environment and that will never change."

It took a little longer than expected for the submarine to leave Barrow due to winds gusting to gale force on the planned departure date of Monday, December 6.

The £500m boat was waiting in Ramsden Dock for an extra four days with five tugs ready to lead it into open water.

Vengeance finally left on Friday without a hitch in a carefully choreographed operation which started at 11.30am.

The Mail noted: "Thirteen crew members stood to attention side-by-side on the top of the submarine - illustrating its military intention."

After 30 minutes the job of the tugs was done and HMS Vengeance continued into the Irish Sea under its own power.

The Mail noted: "When it made its way past the tip of Roa Island a small crowd waved it on and even workmen on the new RNLI station downed tools to pause and catch a glimpse of the magnificent boat."