Posted on April 11, 2019
Gavin Williamson thanked submariners for their service over the last 50 years on Operation Relentless, which he described as the UK’s “longest sustained military operation”.
Opening a debate in the Commons on the nuclear deterrent, Mr Williamson said that “half a century ago HMS Resolution glided into the Clyde and sailed into the history books” as the first submarine to take part in the mission. He said since then “thousands of submariners have followed in the wake of Resolution’s crew, conducting vital work, unseen and undetected, every minute of every day”. Mr Williamson also announced submariners who have served 10 patrols as part of Operation Relentless will be given a new “silver bomber pin”. The pin will be made from metal taken from the now-decommissioned HMS Resolution.
Conservative MP Julian Lewis, Chairman of the Defence Select Committee, also paid tribute to submarine crews, calling them the “silent guardians” of the country. He said the nuclear deterrent is necessary to prevent other nuclear powers targeting the UK, believing there would be no repercussions.
However, other MPs disagreed during the debate. SNP defence spokesman Stewart McDonald said the UK had become an “irresponsible” nuclear power and said the nuclear deterrent is a “big-willy gesture of a small-willy nation”. He added there is no military or economic case for a continuous at-sea deterrent.