London and Chatham-based Royal Naval Reservists joined submariners past and present on 12 May to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the launching of HMS Ocelot in Chatham.
The launching of the diesel electric Oberon Class submarine HMS Ocelot in 1962 ended 400 years of shipbuilding at Chatham Dockyard. The submarine played a vital role in intelligence gathering missions throughout the Cold War before paying off in 1991 and returning to Chatham the following year.
Her legacy lives on today as a popular tourist attraction in what is now Chatham Historic Dockyard.
During the special Submariners’ Day a commemorative service was held in the Royal Dockyard Church. As well as remembering submariners past and present, it acknowledged the special skills of the dockyard workers involved in the building of HMS Ocelot and many other warships in the dockyard.
The service was followed by a parade led by the Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines from Lympstone. HMS President’s platoon was commanded by Lieutenant Catherine Fearon RNR, Officer in Charge of the Medway Division Royal Naval Reserve Unit.
Admiral Sir Trevor Soar KCB OBE RN, Commanding Officer of HMS Ocelot from 1987 to 1990, took the salute. The day finished with a Beating Retreat and Ceremonial Sunset.
“Events like this bring home how much history and naval heritage we have here in Chatham,” Catherine said.
“It was an honour being part of this special day and meeting so many inspirational veterans.”
The Royal Naval Reserve is currently expanding. Medway Division’s catchment area spans the whole north of Kent, with personnel coming from Herne Bay to Gravesend and beyond.
One of the many branches they can join is Submarine Operations, which provides teams that are responsible for the tasking and safety of the Royal Navy’s fleet of nuclear powered submarines. Members of the branch operate from NATO shore headquarters in the UK, Europe and North America and at sea in command ships.
Naval Today Staff, June 1, 2012; Image: Royal Navy