TALES of what life was like on Britain’s first submarine armed with nuclear missiles will be revealed at a new ‘thought-provoking’ display.
Gosport’s Royal Navy Submarine Museum is throwing open the doors to its Silent & Secret exhibition on Friday.
It will focus on the history of HMS Resolution, the first operational boat to be equipped with the Polaris missile system.
The display launch coincides with the 50th anniversary of the submarine’s maiden patrol, in 1968.
Polaris was Britain’s nuclear deterrent between 1968 and 1996 when the four Vanguard-class submarines came into service, armed with the Trident missile system.
Professor Dominic Tweddle, director general of The National Museum of the Royal Navy – which owns the Gosport attraction – said the exhibition would ‘reflect the current debate’ on the renewal of Trident.
‘We envisage that this will be told through several viewpoints, including concerns on the moral and ethical issues,’ he added.
‘The museum will not tell the visitor what to think, but will leave them to form their own opinion.’
Silent & Secret will delve into the challenges of serving on one of the nation’s at-sea nuclear deterrents.
The exhibition will unveil the experiences of the men who served on board Resolution, using accounts taken from some of the submariners.
Personal possessions and documents from across the Polaris submarine fleet will also be on show.
There were four submarines in the class: Resolution, Revenge, Repulse and Renown.
The submarines carried two crews, port and starboard, so that the vessels could remain on patrol at all times. Each crew numbered 143 and took patrols in turn every three months.
When the boats went to sea, they were effectively at war, remaining submerged for the entire three-month patrol and ready to arm and fire its missiles at 15 minutes’ notice.
The Vanguard-class subs replaced HMS Resolution and her sister boats in 1996.
A £41bn programme is under way to build four new Dreadnought-class submarines to take over from the fleet as Britain’s new at-sea nuclear deterrent.
The first is due to enter service by 2030.