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Warship Wednesday: HM Submarine Churchill

19 May 2021

Following on from the success of our first Warship Wednesday blog on HM Submarine Ocelot, we continue our series with a closer look at the Naval namesake of former Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill.

The first of a new class of nuclear-powered attack submarines, HMS Churchill was launched by The Hon. Mrs Soames MBE, the youngest of Churchill’s five children, in 1968.

Churchill is one of the few warships to have been given a title during the lifetime of her namesake.  As First Lord of the Admiralty, Churchill insisted that submarines be known as names rather than numbers, as a mark of respect to those who lost their lives in the silent service.

One of three nuclear fleet submarines to serve with the Royal Navy, (the others being Conqueror and Courageous) Churchill had the distinction of being the last nuclear submarine to be refitted at Chatham Dockyard.  She was chosen to trial the first full-size submarine pump jet propulsion, which led to the same process being fitted in the rest of the class.

Like all nuclear-powered submarines, the 4,900-ton vessel, which measured 86.9 metre-long, could remain submerged almost indefinitely, with supplies of food being the only limiting factor.  Churchill was based on the older Valiant class but featured many internal improvements including a binocular search periscope.

Built at an estimated cost of almost £25 million, Churchill was decommissioned in 1991 and is now laid up at Rosyth dockyard in Fife, Scotland awaiting disposal.

HMS Churchill in pictures

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