I only spent a short time in HMS Nelson, or more accurately, the Portsmouth Fleet Maintenance Base after I left HMS Tartar in June 1984. I worked for the Shipwrights workshop and spent a good amount of time on Type 42 destroyers replacing the old ICABA with the newer BASCCA Breathing Apparatus sets. This was enough to convince me that I didn’t like Type 42’s, far too cramped.     

“MEM Atkinson ... ha!”       as I was brought to attention

“Quick March”

“Halt! ... Salute! ... Off Caps!”   as is customary at defaulters.

“MEM Atkinson sir, charged with the misappropriation of a government issue padlock and chain whilst serving aboard HMS Tartar on 19th May 1984”

“How do you plead?”

“Guilty Sir”

“This may not seem very important to you young man. A padlock costing around £5, but where will it end? Today it’s a padlock but tomorrow? Where will it end ? A Harrier?”  as he reached a crescendo


Dwelling a pause for dramatic effect, he concluded    

“Admonished. Now Get Out!!”

“Admonished Sir!”

“On Cap! .... Salute! ..... Right turn, quick march ...wait outside.”
















For some strange reason, I also decided to grow a beard. No idea why, but it soon disappeared when at 22 years of age and a MEM1, everyone was calling me Chief !! I had left HMS Tartar with a charge hanging over my head. I had thought this had been forgotten, but as soon as I joined I was reminded of it and told to be at the Commander’s Table on Thursday looking as smart as a Guards Van. The charge was nothing serious, I had ‘borrowed’ a padlock to lock up my bike and this had been spotted by a keen MOD ‘Plod’. I was subsequently charged with misappropriation of government stores. I couldn’t be done with theft as I left it dangling off a fence when I peddled off home in the evenings. So it was one sunny Thursday morning in  July 1984, that I presented myself to the Regulators looking very smart indeed but quietly petrified.


I was duly briefed before:

The regulator caught up with me outside,


“you got admonished son, you know what that means?”

“No Leading Reg” I replied.

“It means, you are as guilty as sin, but we’ll let you off”


It with a degree of relief, therefore, that I left HMS Nelson to join HMS Dolphin for submarine training a few months later.