Crews Stories


Keith Morison story


Submarine service finally caught up with me

I volunteered for Submarine service in 1969 prior to leaving HMS Llandaff (an Aircraft

Direction Frigate), but I think the drafting authority forgot about me. After a year in MHQ Pitreavie

Comcen, Rosyth and 1.5 years in HMS Terror Comcen, Singapore I completed my Leading Hand's

course in HMS Mercury and was informed that I was to proceed to HMS Dolphin for

Submarine training. Interestingly enough, during the 3 year period since I had volunteered,

drafting to Submarines had been introduced so I still don't know if I volunteered or was drafted.

On 17 th July 1972 I joined HMS Dolphin to commence submarine training. In those days there

were three main types of submarine; ‘Conventional' (Diesel driven), ‘Hunter Killer' (SSN) and

‘Polaris' (SSBN). On arrival at Fort Blockhouse in Gosport, I was instructed to report to room

23A. Until I had entered this room, I was unaware of which type of Submarine I was destined for.

I'm not afraid to admit that my main concern about joining HMS Dolphin was doing the

escape training. The course was 6 weeks long, and our instructor informed us that most

people had reservations about this part of the course. It was a fact that the escape training

had recently been brought forward from the sixth to the second week because a number of

previous trainee's had failed their basic submarine examination due to nerves about the

escape tank. Once the escape training was over, I suddenly felt very proud to have become a

Submariner - I know that I was far from that, but it felt good all the same.

On completion of Dolphin training, I had completed Submarine training Part 1 only.

I had hoped for Conventional (Diesel) Submarines

Conventional Submarines were small with limited washing or drinking water and hot bunking

compared to the relative luxury of a SSBN, but I enjoyed my shore leave in different ports. It wasn't to be.

When I joined HMS/M Repulse, the port crew were doing ‘Off Crew' duties, and I immediately

began my Part 2 training at HMS Neptune (the shore base in Faslane). I had only just scraped

through my Part 1 examination, but I sailed through the Part 2 Electronic Warfare training,

and was soon back with my shipmates, and ready to take over from the starboard crew

onboard the SSBN. She took to sea for a work up, so I was thrown into the thick of things

right from the start. Shortly after my second trip to sea I completed my Part 3 training which

involved learning the boat's systems (torpedoes, reactor, steam turbine, control room,

hydraulics and air pressure systems, hydroplanes, missile system, trim system, valves,

escape methods and so on) - this ensured that each submariner could be relied upon in any

emergency. As a result, I was then awarded my Dolphins.

Although my main job was Electronic Warfare, this was only used at periscope depth and that

wasn't to often, so I was trained in a secondary duty, which was the mainstay of my work

onboard HMS/M Repulse - that of Forward Hydroplanes man. I learned about hydraulics,

Position Control Electric, Position Control Hydraulic, Rate Control and so on, in my pursuance

of becoming efficient. My most enjoyable moment at the planes was when we did a deep fast

dive, and with the help of the After Hydroplanes man who controlled the angle of the

boat, I was required to put full rise on the fore planes and fishtail the rudder. This slowed the

boat down sufficiently to bring her out of the dive, and enable the Officer of the Watch

to regain full control of the boat. An exercise done in case the boat starts to plummet unintentionally.

During my time on Repulse I was involved in 3 off-crew sessions working as back-up to the

Ships Writer, and 3 on-crew sessions, which involved a work-up, DASO (missile firing exercise) and

one patrol. Once this patrol was over, I transferred to HMS Neptune communications centre to

finish off my time in the Royal Navy.


HM Submarine Repulse (tanka suite)


Artist: Michael J ROCK

Subject: HMS Repulse


Poem written by

Robert Foreman Nov 2006

Leading Seaman HMS Repulse (port crew)

June 1969 – December 1973



nuclear deterrent

“Who touches me is broken”

submarine repulse


patrolled deep, silent oceans

under conditions of war


to the crews who served

shed blood and sweat together

you are remembered


recall dark, wet mornings, when

we sailed and did our duty?


endings are special

tinged with sadness but great pride

our job was done well


a unique encounter, and

significant privilege