Page last updated at 21:38 GMT, Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Submarine's final sailing to base

HMS Trafalgar
HMS Trafalgar was the first of her class of hunter-killer submarines

The Royal Navy's nuclear-powered submarine HMS Trafalgar has sailed into its Devon base for the final time.

Devonport-based Trafalgar is the fifth Royal Navy vessel to bear the historic name and was the first British submarine to circumnavigate the globe.

Its return was marked with a flypast by a navy Merlin helicopter.

Trafalgar will become the ninth decommissioned submarine to be stored in Plymouth while an ongoing MoD study decides how to dispose of them.

HMS Trafalgar, which can have a complement of up to 130 officers and crew, was the first of what was a fleet of seven Trafalgar class nuclear-powered hunter-killer submarines.

It was built at the Barrow-in-Furness yard of Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering and was launched in July 1981.

'Pride and sorrow'

An official decommissioning ceremony will take place on 4 December. It will be the first vessel of her class to be taken out of service.

Her commanding officer, Commander Charlie Shepherd, said the final homecoming was a poignant moment.

He said: "The feeling of everyone, including me, as we came in today for the final time was a mixture of pride and sorrow."

He added that there was a feeling of sadness "because this is the last time the submarine will be operational and some sailors who have been on board for up to seven years will miss their occupational home".

"Close-knit submarines are almost families and this community will be broken up," he said.

Its company will be assigned to new submarines, including HMS Ambush and other Trafalgar class submarines, the navy said.

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