Royal Navy submariners completed training in 1976

A submariner tests out the submarine escape training tower at HMS Dolphin, Gosport.
A submariner tests out the submarine escape training tower at HMS Dolphin, Gosport.

This submariner proves the point as, with a whoosh of water and cascade of bubbles, he reached the surface after a 100ft ascent.

He had just experienced the longest 11 seconds in any ‘sub’ specialist’s life – the time it takes for the bottom-to-top journey in the submarine escape training tower at HMS Dolphin. 

Each year thousands of men, trainees and experienced crews on requalifying ascents, went through the tower. Many of them from NATO navies. 

The steel tower was opened in 1949 and was celebrating its 25th birthday. It was initially used for training, following recommendations on escape procedures based on the experiences of submariners in the Second World War.

In those early days, emphasis was on the ‘free ascent’ method of escape, using just flippers and a nose clip.

The year of 1976 marked 205,000 training ascents completed by 55,000 men at HMS Dolphin.

Among them was Prince Charles, who, during his sub-lieutenant training, made three ascents in 1972. ​​​​​​