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Sceptre (S104)

Built By: Vickers (Barrow)
Build Group: SSN Group 4
Fate: Decommissioned.
Last of the class to pay off.

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Ordered November 1971

Launched by Lady Audrey White, wife of Admiral Sir Peter White, Chief of Naval Support at Vickers Shipyard, Barrow


It was the end of an era at Devonport Naval Base when the last of the class of Swiftsure attack submarines was retired after 32 years' service. HMS Sceptre was formally decommissioned at a special ceremony which saw tributes paid to her role, and the hundreds of submariners who served onboard.

Commander Steve Waller, the 16th and final commanding officer of the vessel, said the occasion marked more than the end of a submarine in service, but also the end of an era of Swiftsure submarines.

He said:

This is a momentous occasion, as it marks the last of the Swiftsure Class. It is a sad moment, but we should also use it to remember and celebrate the achievements of the submarine and of the men who have between them protected the UK's interests for 32 years. This longevity is testament to the UK workforce. Indeed in the last nine months of service, including a long deployment, the boat has lost only six days due to faults.

He said HMS Sceptre's crew, past and present, were one large close-knit family which made up a happy community while at sea. The vital support was obvious among the sailors and their families back home, he said, especially important during long deployments, like the eightmonth, 31,000-mile patrol to the Indian and Atlantic Oceans earlier this year.

HMS Sceptre, a nuclearpowered submarine, entered service in 1978 and it is estimated around 1,500 men have served on board during her time. The decommissioning ceremony, which was witnessed by 450 people, was conducted by Royal Naval Chaplain the Rev Bernard Clarke. Special guest was Michael Winstanley, the Mayor of Wigan, the town which the submarine has long been affiliated to.

He told the parade:

I am honoured to have had such a long and happy association with HMS Sceptre. But this occasion is tinged with sadness at the parting of the ways.

The mayor said HMS Sceptre had done the Royal Navy and Wigan proud and the submarine "held a special place in Wigan's heart."

He said that he and Wigan saluted the submarine and all her men for their achievements and that, despite her age, HMS Sceptre served at the forefront of naval operations, serving her country right to the last.

"The real heart and soul of the submarine are the people here on parade," said Mr Winstanley. "The Submarine service is seen as more than a life, more of a religion to them."

He added that the various crews of HMS Sceptre had shown the "utmost professionalism and loyalty throughout their years of service on board and delivered outstanding service with undying pride".

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19-02-1974 : Laid Down
20-11-1976 : Launched
14-02-1978 : Completed
10-12-2010 : Decommissioned. Last of the class to pay off.

1 comment

I was privileged to attend the launch of Sceptre. At the time I worked for Leyland Trucks and one of our customers was Bradys of Barrow in Furness, who sourced me a ticket. Co-incidentally my home town was Wigan. I have since always felt an affinity for the Submarine Service, and very many years later was invited for a tour of and lunch on HMS Talent in Gosport with the Skipper. Still have the dolphins he gave me, even though I've never earned them.
   Stephen Lee Sun, 29 Jan 2017

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