I joined HMS Talent in Devonport as a POMEM in September 1998 following a few months working as a slinger in Nuclear Repair.


Trafalgar Class submarines look very similar to Swiftsure class boats on the outside, only an expert can tell them apart. Trafalgar class boats have a higher rudder and the mast configuration is slightly different. I suppose that makes me an expert.


Having joined, it appeared that Talent was undergoing maintenance and would not be sailing for a while. In order for me to get qualified as the Aft SPO (Stoker Petty Officer) It was necessary for myself and four others to join HMS Triumph on loan in order to re-qualify as a submariner (BSQ) Engine Room Upper Level (ERUL) and Shut Down Senior Rate (SDSR).

So, myself, ‘Woody’, Sean, Gordon, and Neil, from Talent, flew from Brize Norton down to Mount Pleasant Airport in the Falkland Islands. Whoever named the airport, had a weird sense of humour. I could describe the airport in many ways, but pleasant was not one of them.  After a 16 hour flight via ‘Wide Awake’ airport in Ascension we were finally escorted into MPA by a RAF Tornado fighter.

The week in Snowdonia was very wet, but generally, very successful. It was this and my role in the Senior Rates mess as Mess Manager that, I consider, contributed towards my selection to Chief Petty Officer. I was subsequently promoted to CMEM on 6th April 2001, the day I left Talent.

Entering into the arrivals hall standing on top of the baggage carousel was an army Staff Sergeant from the Royal Ordnance Corps. Holding up various items of munitions in turn, he repeated “... If you find one of these, please do not touch it, it will kill you”. He finished by wishing everyone a very enjoyable visit on the islands.


After collecting our baggage and jumping into a waiting 3 ton truck we drove down to Mare Harbour before enduring a quite uncomfortable boat transfer out to join Triumph who was manoeuvring  in rough seas to make the transfer of personnel as safe as possible. Having safely managed to get aboard, we found bunks in the Weapon Stowage Compartment and went straight to work. We were knackered!! 


We sailed immediately for South Georgia before returning to the Falklands a week later before finally sailing north at high speed towards the West Indies and Florida. The Captain decided to practice an emergency surface that effectively puts us on the ‘roof’ in seconds from our normal operating depth. The problem was that a super tanker was right behind us and that clipped our towed array requiring a team to fly out and fit a replacement.


Sharing a hotel room with Woody in Cocoa Beach, we hired a car with Sean and enjoyed a few days travelling around Florida visiting the attractions before, eventually after about 9 weeks on board Triumph, we flew home having already qualified BSQ and ERUL and made some progress towards the SDSR qualification.


Re-joining Talent, I eventually qualified as a Shut Down Senior Rate having successfully completed the simulator assessment at the 2nd time of asking.


Talent had an excellent ships company with a good social ethic. I was the PO of the watch and responsible for the Engine Room Upper Level.

The photograph on the Aft Escape Compartment shows myself at front centre surrounded by the other four members of my watch


As with all my submarines, we travelled to our usual patrol area, spending 8 weeks tootling around very slowly with very little happening. To maintain our covert status, the electrolysers that manufacture air were shut down and the Oxygen Generators, that are usually used for escape purposes were brought into use. These run silently and each oxygen candle burns for exactly 1 hour. Every 8 hours of operation requires the Oxygen Generator to be completely stripped and cleaned. This made the largely uneventful patrol to fly by and in seemingly no time, we were back home.

Whilst in an extended Maintenance period I decided to run a series of Day walks on Dartmoor building up to organising a week long expedition to Snowdonia. This was offered to the entire ships company, but the only participants came from the Marine Engineering Department. The photo to the left shows myself and ‘Paddy’  flying the flag next to ‘Adam & Eve’ on top of Tryfen.

Talent alongside South Mole in Gibraltar


Trafalgar Class

Primary Role

Hunter Killer

Pennant No



5208 tons Dived , 4740 tons Surfaced


280 ft


32 ft




Pressurised Water Reactor providing heat to generate steam driving two steam turbines into a duel tandem, single helical double reduction gearbox with a single output shaft and propulsor


5 torpedo tubes capable of firing: Mk 24 Spearfish Torpedoes, RN Sub Harpoon Missiles (RNSH)  and later on Tomahawk Missiles (TLAM)