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Faslane myths busted for would be submariners

24 May 2016
Sixteen prospective submariners and their families tore up naval service myths about serving in Scotland and Faslane last weekend, 20-22 May 2016.

The Sustainable Submarine Manning Programme hosted the event for the mainly Devon and Cornwall-based naval service families.

All 16 personnel had expressed their interest in becoming submariners, transferring from Naval general service, fleet air arm and Royal Marines.

“Half of the group have already formally submitted their transfer requests to their career managers, with several others stating their intention to do so,” said Submarine Service Command Warrant Officer, Andy Knox.

“But, what was particularly pleasing was the families’ response to being here, with many of them saying that they are really looking forward to the move. We completely transformed this group of people’s inaccurate and out of date perceptions of what is on offer – from the weather, to things to do and the support available to them here.”

We completely transformed this group of people’s inaccurate and out of date perceptions of what is on offer – from the weather, to things to do and the support available to them here.

Warrant Officer, Andy Knox

The biggest expressed concern for the families was transferring from the English to Scottish education systems.  Any fears were put to rest by the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Welfare team who told the group that with as many as 50% of school pupils in the Helensburgh area being from service families, the Scottish Government has provided £100,000 to support their specific needs.

Indeed, Argyll and Bute Council has recruited a qualified teacher to work full-time in support of local service children, and produced a dedicated website for service personnel and their families:

“Coming from the South West, many of the families did not know what to expect from Scotland,” continued Andy Knox. “The feedback I received was that they were amazed by the wide range of high quality facilities and activities right here on their doorstep.”

On the Base the group visited HMS Torbay and some of the dedicated state of the art submarine training facilities. They also visited the Churchill estate to see the service accommodation there, as well as the supermess with its high quality single living accommodation, shops, cafés, bars, restaurants and bowling alley.  Their tour also took in the Base’s own dry ski slope and sportsdrome, including the newly opened £250,000 Doug Wylie Memorial Gym.

The group also ate out in Helensburgh Town Centre, with some receiving the red carpet treatment at an evening screening at the new local 300-seater Tower cinema, while others enjoyed the Real Ale Festival.

Before they headed back to the airport, the group visited Glasgow City Centre and also SOAR at Braehead with its IMAX cinemas and one of the longest indoor real snow ski slopes in the UK.

Faslane will be the single home of the operational UK Submarine Service by 2020: the new hunter killer Astute-class submarines are already there; the last two Trafalgar-class boats will move north from Devonport in 2017 and 2019; Scotland is already home to the submarine-based nuclear deterrent, with the Successor boats located there too from about 2030.

Personnel transferring into the Submarine Service will receive a £5,000 ‘Golden Hello’ on achieving their ‘Dolphins’ – a recognition that they have qualified as a submariner.

As they progress they will be entitled to an attractive submarine pay package which could equate to as much as 25% more depending on rank and specialisation. 

This event was part of a wider Royal Navy initiative to encourage 40 engineering qualified personnel move to the Submarine Service, which has already attracted over 100 expressions of interest.

Any transfer comes with a five year return of service upon submarine qualification. Volunteers must have at least three years left to serve; accept an extension of service; be Medically Fully Employable and hold, or be willing to hold, sole British nationality.

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