Spartan (S105)

Built By: Vickers (Barrow)
Build Group: SSN Group 4

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Launched by Lady Lygo
Sea Trials February 1979

During the countdown to commissioning many of the first crew and key figures in the Barrow building team featured in a special feature in the Barrow News.

Among them was Radio Supervisor William McCurry who grew up in a caravan on the former army base at Haverigg.

George Hughes, Mechanician 1st Class was standing by his third Barrow-built submarine after serving on Valiant and Sovereign.

Spartan's first Coxswain was Raymond 'Harry' Harrison who had also stood by Sceptre. He was a regular on the darts board at the Britannia pub in Barrow.

Many crew members found other ways to play a part in the local community during the wait to take over the new boat from the builders. Able Seaman W Harley and Able Seaman N White were pictured painting a house in Devon Street, Barrow, for Age Concern.

Lt Ian Whitehouse, the Spartan navigator, declared himself sad to be leaving South Cumbria - on account of his new-found love for local beer Har tley's XB.In charge was Commander Nigel Goodwin who had joined the Royal Navy at Dartmouth in 1961 and moved to the Submarine Service in 1966. In 1970 he had been appointed commanding officer of the HMS Onyx.

Spartan was the first boat to arrive in the Falkland Islands after the Argentine invasion of British territory in the South Atlantic. The crew began to enforce a 200 mile (370 km) maritime exclusion zone providing valuable reconnaissance to the British Task Force on Argentine aircraft movements and ensuring the Argentine Navy dare not leave port.

In January 1990 Spartan hit the sea bed and damaged its rudder during manoeuvres off Scotland in January 1990.

The boat was decommissioned in January 2006 following a five-month global deployment covering 30,000 miles - including a goodwill port visit to Rio de Janeiro. This was the first time that a Royal Navy nuclear powered submarine had visited Brazil in 20 years.

HMS Spartan Paying Off

From the Clyde Courier

HMS Spartan left HM Naval Base Clyde for the last time following 28 years of service with the Royal Navy (Wednesday 25th January 2006). Sailing out of the Gareloch with her 45 m decommissioning pennant blowing in the breeze Commander Paul Halton, the Captain of Spartan said:

It is sad leaving Faslane for the last time. Over the years the teams in the base have given us exceptional support to keep Spartan ready for operations and of course keeping the crew fed, watered and happy when alongside.

Prior to her last sailing, and as is traditional in the Navy, a decommissioning ceremony was held on 20th January to mark the successful completion of her service and to thank the men who have served in the Swiftsure Class Submarine over the years. Guest of honour at the ceremony was former First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Raymond Lygo, KCB who's late wife, Lady Emily Lygo, was the boat's Sponsor having originally named and launched her in 1978.

Spartan's last patrol was one of the most successful yet, having completed a five month long global deployment which saw her cover some 30,000 miles, transit three oceans and visit four continents before returning home just in time for Christmas 2005.

During this South Atlantic and Gulf deployment she conducted patrols and also found time to enjoy visits to Rio de Janeiro, La Reunion, Fujairah and Dubai. Their goodwill port visit to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil was a particular highlight as this was the first time that a Royal Navy nuclear powered warship had visited Brazil in twenty years and the boat's crew conducted a two day exercise with the Brazilian Navy to further develop training and cooperation between the forces. Whilst there, crew members also visited an orphanage where they helped to refurbish a children's basketball court and cleared some land allowing a new accommodation building to be started.

'Courage with great endurance', the Submarine's motto is fitting for a boat whose life began just before the Falklands conflict in which she played an important role. She was afforded battle honours for her part during Operation Corporate in 1982 when she spent 74 days dived in operations against Argentine Forces.

Over the years the 'hunter killer' capable of detecting and destroying both surface and submerged targets, has been involved in tracking, intelligence gathering, patrolling areas of heightened tension and remaining at readiness to deploy Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles.

Although Spartan's departure means one less Submarine at HM Naval Base Clyde, the Royal Navy's new generation of Attack Submarines, the Astute Class, will be base ported at Faslane and will replace both the Swiftsure Class and ultimately the Trafalgar Class too. The Astute Class will be the largest and most capable Attack Submarines ever built for the Royal Navy, with the first vessel due on the Clyde in 2008.

Plutarch's 1st Century writings on the ancient Spartans tell us that mothers told their warrior sons as they were given their shields to "come back with it or on it". One Spartan king, Demaratos, said of the same shields that they were "for the common good of all". The Officers and Crew of HMS Spartan will know exactly what Plutarch was talking about.


17-02-1973 : Ordered from Vickers, Barrow by Admiral Sir Edward Ashmore after launch of HMS Soverign.
24-04-1976 : Laid Down
07-04-1978 : Launched
22-09-1979 : Completed
20-01-2006 : Decommissioning ceremony was held to mark the successful completion of Spartan's service.


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