In Depth & News Letters

In Depth & News Letters



Official Newsletter of the Submariners Association

Patron: Admiral of the Fleet Lord Boyce KG GCB OBE DL

Issue No: 68 | April 2020

InDepth64 1

Cover Photo: HMS AUDACIOUS moves through Buccleuch Dock at Barrow on Saturday 4th April prior to departure for Faslane on Monday 6th April 2020.


Hello again to everyone from a sunny, cool but very quiet Barrow in Furness!

In a change for this Issue I am writing, not only as the Editor of In Depth but, also as your newly elected Chairman of the Submariners Association.  You might ask how can this be as the Annual General Meeting & Reunion hasn’t been held yet and probably won’t be until August at the earliest?  Jim McMaster, as the outgoing Chairman, set up a process whereby all the Voting Forms from the 41 Branches which sent in returns were collected by the National Secretary, opened and counted by two Vice Presidents and observed by the Chairman, Vice Chairman & the Secretary.  These figures were then advised to the rest of the Committee and the Candidates at an ‘On Line’ Meeting immediately following.  The voting for Chairman was as follows:

Stuart Brown         12 votes

Barrie Downer      29 votes

The voting for the four vacant posts on the National Committee was as follows:

Andy Knox           30

Andy Morgan        25

Frank Pas               31

Sandy Powell         31

John Swaby           21

Roy Morden          21

Andy Knox, Andy Morgan, Frank Pas and Sandy Powell are therefore duly elected to the Committee and Barrie Downer duly elected as National Chairman.  Hopefully, the unsuccessful Candidates are not too disappointed and will try again in the future

The new Committee will hold its first Meeting (an ‘On-Line’ Meeting) on Saturday 18th April by which time, hopefully, the current restrictions on movement and meetings may have been relaxed and we may be able to progress normal Association business.

For myself I must say a very big thank you to all Branches and Members for supporting me in my bid to become your National Chairman and putting your trust in me.

As the outgoing National Chairman Jim McMaster has written a Report - effectively a ‘Haul Down’ Report which follows this Report - reflecting on his many years as firstly, National Secretary and, latterly as National Chairman.  We all owe Jim a huge debt of gratitude for all he has done for the Association over many years.  Many Thanks, Jim!

Hopefully, you are all following Government advice on the Corona Virus problem and are staying at home, ‘Self-Isolating’ and/or keeping your distance from others.  You might think that the world has gone mad and the politicians & other have taken leave of their senses but - we are where we are!

I was recently asked by Radio Cumbria for a few suggestions on how to get through being stuck at home so here goes with a few suggestions on how as Submariner we might do it!

We all know, as Submariners, that everything at sea is very much a fixed routine and is usually well known in advance.  But there you are, in a confined space, with at least a hundred other people and with no access to real fresh air and no, or very limited, information about what is happening outside your small world.  However, after a few days in the routine, we find time slips by very quickly and it is quite surprising to suddenly realise that a 60- or 90-day patrol is very nearly over.

So, if you are stuck at home ‘self-isolating’ it is very important to establish a daily routine and stick to it religiously – especially as we don’t know how long this is all going to last.  If you have been going to work and are now ‘home working’, get up at the same time as usual, wash/shower/dress, etc. have a good breakfast and go to work at your usual time but – instead - in the room or space you have set up at home as your office/work place.

Have a radio on in the background - try to avoid the distraction of television or games.  At these difficult times do not listen or watch too much in the way of news or current events programmes etc – you don’t want to depress yourself with the doom & gloom views and comments of the self-appointed ‘know it alls’ & ‘experts’.

If you are being sent work to do that’s fine and you can pace yourself accordingly, but make sure you have a mid-morning break, a proper lunch hour and a mid-afternoon break and finish work at your usual time.  If you are not being sent work to do then think of all those things you have always intended to do - but never had time to do - and plan your working day around them.

Make sure you give some time and space to your partners and/or the children – try and make sure they have a routine as well – get the kids to stick to their school hours especially if they have been sent school work to do.  Try and make sure you get a full night’s sleep but, ideally, no sleeping during working hours!

Plan your mealtimes and your meals in advance -this will help with deciding what to buy in your weekly shop and how long it will take to prepare the meals.  Always wash up and tidy up after meals to avoid a build-up of dirty dishes/plates/pots & pans.  As you are indoors for longer than usual don’t forget about the hoovering, dusting, cleaning, the weekly washing and ironing etc.

Build some time into the day for your walk and/or exercise and to get some fresh air – you are still allowed to go out for a walk, a run or a cycle ride!  If you have a garden or even just a backyard then that is a big bonus.

Don’t forget to phone your friends & family and Association/Branch members regularly – also E Mail, texting, skyping as you would normally do - especially to anyone you know who is on their own or not too well!

Think about keeping a diary of events – you never know what is going to happen – it could be something to pass on to the children/grandchildren.

This won’t all last for ever and soon, hopefully, we can get back to normal!

Our Front Page photo this Issue is of HMS AUDACIOUS (the 4th Astute Class boat) making her way through the Dock System at Barrow on Saturday 4th April, prior to her much delayed departure tor Faslane and the Flotilla.

Anyway – enough from me!  I trust you will find something of interest to read in this Issue and, once again, I must thank all those who have sent in items for the Newsletter – trying to fit it all in is challenging – but it makes my job so much easier when Members send me ‘stuff’!

Regards, Barrie Downer


Issue No. 69 will be published on 1st July 2020.  Contributions are required to be with the Editor by 15th June 2020 – please make sure I get them in good time!


Friends and Fellow Submariners,

Once again, I sit at my lap-top poised and trying to think of something to say for this quarterly contribution to our excellent Association newsletter, In Depth, and as always, I am struggling to find the right words.  So, it has been for the previous 31 ‘Chairman’s Comment’s’ which I have written since taking over as Chairman in 2012.  Now I find myself writing this contribution for the final time as my tenure as the Association Chairman has come to an end.

At lunch time on Saturday 4th April we convened a video conference and counted the votes submitted by the branches to elect a new Chairman and new members of the NMC.  The Tellers for the process were two Vice Presidents, Bob Seaward and David Barlow –which was in accordance with the Rules & Constitution.  We find ourselves in this very unusual situation a as a result of having to postpone our Annual Reunion and National Council Conference because of the COVID-19 pandemic.  All the votes had been submitted by branches using their Voting Forms with unique number and they had been collected and held by the National Secretary so all I had to do was devise an acceptable, fair, transparent and verifiable system to count the votes!  So, there is a new hand on the tiller and a new NMC behind him.  I wish every one of them the very best of luck.

Many have asked me if I am sad about stepping down from the post and my answer is: “No, I am so very happy that it was part of my life.”  It has been for me an enormous privilege and honour to be the Chairman of such an illustrious group.  I was ever conscious of my responsibilities and duties but they held no fear because I was part of a strong team of volunteers who all pulled in the same direction towards the common goal which is, and always will be, the wellbeing and sustainability of our Association.  This does not mean that the NMC members always agreed with each other on all matters.  Far from it!  There have been many heated debates and frank exchanges of opinion over the years and so it should be.  That is the cornerstone of democracy and honest held views should always be respected.  It is that respect for each other that allows us to compromise and concede points as we seek the most appropriate solutions to our issues.  I do not want to labour the point but be assured every man on the NMC is there because he volunteered, and you elected him, and they all have the best interest of the Association at heart.

So, as I reflect on the main events of my time on the NMC both as Secretary and then as Chairman I feel a sense of pride in our achievements and there have been many.

There can be no doubt that our profile has been raised way beyond any of our expectations to the extent where we now expect HRH the Duke of Cambridge to attend our November Service of Remembrance.  That is the future King joins us and mixes with us socially on completion of our formalities.  That is recognition at the highest level!

Our Service of Remembrance now held in the gardens of the Honorable Society of the Middle Temple has grown massively thanks to the ever-growing attendance of the Serving Submariners.  I am proud to have been part of the initial negotiations which brought this about.  The gardens are a perfect venue for our event and so close to our Memorial that it is relevant.  The event is organised in the main by Iain ‘Mad Dog’ Mackenzie who is also the exceptional Parade Marshal for the event.

It is difficult to put on paper a list of achievements and comments covering so many eventful years, but I will try and note a few.  The Blue Plaque initiative gives me great pride.  This tribute to all the Submariner recipients of the Victoria Cross (14 in number) is now almost complete.  It must be said that Frank ‘Sandy’ Powell has done a tremendous job as the lead organiser for this project.  It is a fabulous tribute to our heroes.

I am pleased that I managed to compile a rather lengthy document detailing as many relevant Welfare Contacts as I could.  This document has been distributed to all branches and I hope that it helps them in times of stress.

I must own up to the fact that I am responsible for the increase in Annual Subscriptions which caused such angst a couple of years ago.  Such anguish over an increase of two pence per day.  I make no apology for this increase because it can be seen from our published annual accounts that the Association is now, as a result of the increase, on a solid financial foundation and no longer on the brink of financial disaster.

These are but a few of the milestones over the years and I have no intention of boring you any longer with meaningless lists of achievements.  They are not MY achievements; they are the achievements of the NMC members past and present who worked with me as a team and supported each other through the bad times as well as the good times.  I am extremely grateful for their support and dedication.  Their enthusiasm and determination have allowed us to collectively make a difference.  I am proud to have worked with every one of them.

It is probably customary at this point for me to start listing the names of those who have travelled the road with me but I am not going to do that because I may miss a name accidentally and there could be disappointment in that.

The exception to this is my wife Marion.  Without her support, enthusiasm and steadying influence I could not have done the job.  She has supported me not just for the last 14 years but for nearly 53 years as my wife and her help and encouragement is priceless.  So, after all these years of keeping me in line we find that she now needs me a little bit more because of her serious health issues over the past 18 months and this is the reason I am stepping down now.  Her health is now visibly improving but the consequences of neurosurgery and intensive radiation therapy leave a lasting burden.  I will now do all that I can to ease that burden.

I hope that you will support and work with the new Chairman every bit as much as you have done with me.  I wish him every success and hope he takes as much satisfaction and joy from the role as I have.  I am not disappearing I will always be in the background supporting this wonderful Association and its equally wonderful members in the best way that I can.

It has been the greatest privilege and honour for me to have served you all and I thank you most sincerely for giving me the opportunity to do so.

See you all at the bar.  Keep on keeping on.



This Newsletter is published by the Submariners Association and is © 2019. The opinions expressed in these pages are not necessarily the opinion of the Editor, The Submariners Association, the MoD or the Submarine Service unless otherwise stated. The Submariners Association may not agree with the opinions expressed in this Newsletter but encourages publication as a matter of interest. Nothing printed may be construed as policy or an official announcement unless so stated. Otherwise the Submariners Association accepts no liability on any issue in this Newsletter.

A full copy of this version can be downloaded from the below link in PDF Format.
Latest In Depth No 68

In Depth Newsletter

Here is an extract of the latest In Depth Newsletter. A full copy of this and the previous version can be downloaded from these links in PDF Format.

Latest In Depth No 68

In Depth No 67


Rear Admiral Niall SR Kilgour CB

Barrie Downer Esq
The Firs, Dundalk Street
Barrow Island
Barrow in Furness
LA14 2RZ
01229 820963
B. Downer Esq

Vice Chairman:

Iain. MacKenzie Esq.
46 Almora Drive
G82 1AE
I. MacKenzie Esq

National Secretary:
Ian Vickers Esq
160 Bradshaw Meadows
Lancashire BL2 4ND
01204 308539
I. Vickers Esq

Stuart Brown Esq
14 Meadow Drive
Bury St. Edmunds
Suffolk IP29 5SB
07590 195295
S. Brown Esq

Membership Secretary:
David Woolterton Esq.
2 Thornton Close
SO24 9FE
01962 734940 or 07713448734
D. Woolterton Esq

Barrie Downer Esq
The Firs, Dundalk Street
Barrow Island
Barrow in Furness
LA14 2RZ
01229 820963
B. Downer Esq

In Depth Newsletter

A full copy of the previous version can be downloaded from Here: In Depth No 67

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