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HMS Repulse
Resolution (Polaris) Class
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Laid Down:16-07-1965
Build Group:SSBN Grp1
Fate:Decommissioned on August 28 in 1996

HMS Repulse hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons on her launch day at Barrow on November 11 in 1967.

S23 was a Polaris ballistic missile submarine of the Resolution-class built for the Royal Navy and got stuck in the mud of Walney Channel. A group called the ‘Committee of 100’ were thought to be to blame for the incident after a dozen CND antinuclear protesters wedged themselves into the lock gates prior to launch. This delayed the launch by around 30 minutes leaving insufficient clearance water for Repulse to clear the mud.

The launch was carried out by Lady Joan Zuckerman who reached the shipyard despite attempts to prevent or delay her arrival. She was the wife of Sir Zolly Zuckerman, Chief Scientific Advisor to the government. Police arrested at least 40 demonstrators staging a sit-down protest across Barrow’s Bridge Road. The Evening Mail reported: “Long haired students chanting ‘we shall not be moved’ were dragged by the ankles to the roadside by policemen, miniskirted girls struggled with several constables.”

Despite this less than text book start the submarine went on to be the longest active survivor of the class – remaining in service with the navy until decommissioning in 1996. The new submarine bore a price tag of £55m.

HMS Repulse was first commissioned on September 28 in 1968. A two-crew system of manning was used, known as Port and Starboard crews. The first commission commanding officers for Re pulse were Port crew, Commander JR Wadman and Starboard crew, Commander AJ Whetstone.

Although planned to be the third, Repulse became the second Polaris submarine to come into service. Repulse was preceded by HMS Resolution and then followed by Renown and Revenge. The history of Polaris shows that with 229 unbroken patrols, it was a huge success. Also with a mid-life update of Chevaline in 1982, it remained a credible deterrent throughout its operational life. The chapter came to an end in May 1996 when Repulse completed the final Polaris patrol and responsibility for the national deterrent passed to the Vanguard-class SSBN, equipped with Trident D5 missiles.

Repulse was finally decommissioned on August 28 in 1996.

08-05-1963:Ordered from Vickers, Barrow
11-05-1968:Began Sea Trials
16-06-1969:Submarine Repulse sails on her first Polaris Patrol

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Length overall  425ft
Beam  33ft
Displacement   7500 tons (surface) / 8400 tons (submerged)
Diving Depth  In excess of 1000ft
Speed  20 knots (surface) / 25 knots (submerged)
No. of shafts  1
Armament  Six 21-inch bow tubes. 16 Polaris A-3 tubes
Complement   143 (two crews)

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