The Dyers Company first established an affiliation with the Royal Navy in 1987.
Our first affiliation was with HMS Brilliant, a Type 22 frigate. She was commissioned in 1981 and served in the Falklands War in 1982, notably in the Battle of Seal Cove. The Dyers Company affiliation started in 1987, and in January 1991, Brilliant was deployed to the Persian Gulf as part of the Operation Granby Task Force, in the First Gulf War.
She was decommissioned from Royal Navy service in 1996.
We then established an affiliation with a Type 23 Frigate, HMS Grafton. She was commissioned in 1997. In 2004 Grafton was deployed in the Persian Gulf. She was decommissioned from Royal Navy Service in 2006.
In 2007 we established our third affiliation with a vessel, this time with HMS Vanguard, one of the Navy’s Trident ballistic Missile-armed submarines, commissioned in 1993.
HMS Vanguard is currently undergoing a Deep Maintenance Period (Refuel) (DMP(R)) in Devonport. This is a major undertaking, which will allow Vanguard to continue to provide the Continuous at Sea Deterrent (CASD) for her next commission. This refit has seen a complete refuel of the Nuclear Steam Raising Plant and the fitting of the latest generation of reactor core – the first of its kind in the UK. A completely new Combat System (CS) has also been developed for Vanguard which is entirely unique to any other UK submarine. This includes the latest SONAR technology which will enable Vanguard to pick up quieter targets at even greater ranges than before, enhancing navigational safety, and her ability to be effective in an underwater fight.
When the refit is complete, Vanguard will re-join the 3 other Ballistic Missile Submarines (SSBNs) tasked with delivering CASD. After an extensive sea trials period, and a transit to the USA to load her complement of nuclear missiles, she and her crew of around 120 personnel will go on patrol. This patrol will last for months, during which she will remain constantly dived. Only when Vanguard has been relieved by the next SSBN will she return to the surface and transit back to base.
While on board most of the crew will be working a 6-hours-on, 6-hours-off routine. This means that 6 hours will be spent on watch, and then 6 hours off watch, a routine which is followed without a break for the duration of the patrol. During their off watch, personnel will eat, sleep, clear admin, workout in the small onboard gym or relax with some TV in their messes. There has been one of these SSBNs at sea protecting the UK every single minute since the first patrol in April 1969, the longest ongoing mission ever delivered by the MoD. Today’s generation of Trident-missile-carrying submarines are the size of a small aircraft carrier and more complex to build than the Space Shuttle.
Whilst all the basic needs are provided by the Royal Navy, money donated by the Worshipful Company of Dyers helps support the crew with those home comforts that make all the difference. These include, up to date entertainment systems, shared sports equipment, collective media libraries, festive decorations for the messes and other mess functions from which each member of the crew will directly benefit. Vanguard has taken the opportunity during the DMP to completely renew and update her shared media system to last the whole of her next running period.