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A Triumph of Freedom: Submarine celebrates Devon town’s highest honour

3 April 2023
For the first time in their boat’s long and proud history, crew of HMS Triumph marched through the Devon market town of Newton Abbot.

A marching platoon of 25 submariners accompanied by up to 30 musicians from the Southwest Area Sea Cadets Band brought military pomp and ceremony to the streets, underscoring longstanding ties between the nuclear-powered submarine and the people of Newton Abbot.

Triumph has enjoyed a lengthy affiliation with the town, but it was only in 2019 that civic leaders decided to grant its highest honour of Freedom of the Town upon the boat – the first non-individual to be so decorated.

Covid then intervened and prevented a planned parade “with bayonets fixed, Colours flying and bands playing”… until now.

The Freedom Scroll was presented by the Mayor, Councillor Carol Bunday, to Commander Shaun Southwood, representing Commander Scott Taylor, the T-boat’s Commanding Officer.

In an address read out by Cdr Southwood, Triumph’s skipper told townsfolk: “While saddened we are unable to join you on this most special of days, this sadness is offset by the pride and excitement we all feel in returning her to where she rightfully belongs, delivering on operations.

“While the history of the name HMS Triumph does not quite extend as far back as that of Newton Abbot, we do share a rich tapestry woven into the fabric of the region and I can only hope the future for HMS Triumph, and indeed our affiliation, is as illustrious as her past.”

Cllr Bunday told the two dozen submariners lined up before her: “Today, as throughout our nation’s history, we owe a debt of gratitude to our Armed Forces who serve their country and help to maintain our safety and security. We salute the crew of HMS Triumph and are delighted to offer them the freedom of our town.”

Triumph is the last of seven Trafalgar-class hunter-killers still in service with the Silent Service – and the last boat still based in Devonport as the Submarine Flotilla concentrates in Faslane and completes its transition to the successor class of Astutes.

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