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Remembering the Royal Navy’s most extensive submarine refit

19 November 2021

Nuclear submarine HMS Warspite completes the most extensive submarine refit to date at the time she was recommissioned in 1974.

The Valiant Class vessel arrived at Chatham Dockyard in mid-June 1971 at the end of her first commission of four years, during which she had steamed more than 130,000 miles, mostly submerged.

Warspite 10

On completion of the most extensive refit ever undergone (at the time) by a Royal Navy nuclear submarine, she was recommissioned on Tuesday 20 November 1974.

Warspite 9

Guest of honour at the ceremony was Mrs Mary Wilson, wife of the Rt Hon Harold Wilson. Mrs Wilson had previously launched the HMS Warspite in 1965.

Warspite newspaper Mrs Mary Wilson

The completion of the refit marked the end of ‘single stream’ refits – ‘two stream’ refitting involving simultaneous major refits of two nuclear submarines was planned to commence at Chatham in 1974. HMS Warspite sailed from Chatham on 23 November to join the Second Submarine Squadron at Devonport, Plymouth.

Warspite 2

Warspite 6

HMS Warspite was built by Vickers Ltd, Shipbuilding Group, Barrow-in -Furness, Cumbria. Ordered in December 1962, laid down in December 1963, launched in September 1965 and commissioned into the Royal Navy in April 1967.

Warspite newspaper

HMS Warspite was 285ft (86.9m) long x 33.2ft (10.1m) beam x 27ft (8.2m) draught and weighed 3500 tons surfaced, 4500 tons submerged. The submarines company consisted of 13 Officers and 90 Ratings.

Warspite 11

Thank you to our regular guest blogger, former shipwright, Visitor Experience team member and Reading Room volunteer, Tony Peacock, who researched and wrote this blog.

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