Posted on May 3, 2019
Operation Relentless is Britain’s continuous at-sea nuclear deterrent, and has been maintained by the Royal Navy for 50 years. Since April 1969 – for 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year – at least one UK ballistic missile submarine has been on patrol beneath the waves of the world’s oceans.
Former Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson visited HM Naval Base Clyde Faslane on Monday, ahead of his sacking from the Cabinet. He toured HMS Vigilant, which carries the Trident nuclear missiles. Speaking to reporters on board, he said, “the word is deterrence and it is about delivering peace, it is delivering prosperity and it is delivering security.” Noting how the submarine fleet is “literally going head-to-head with adversaries” in the North Atlantic, he said submariners take an “immense amount of risk on to their shoulders”. The submarine service has always, quite rightly, called itself the silent service. But I think it maybe just sometimes needs to be just a little bit less modest and talk about some of its amazing achievements.”
Prince William, as Commodore-in-Chief of the submarine service, will perform a reading at the Abbey.
New Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt, a Royal Navy reservist and the first female to hold the position, will attend the service in what will be her first public engagement.
But the event has been met with a backlash. Peace activists, including those from the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), have said they will stage a protest outside. Protesters will perform a “die-in” when the service starts, saying it will represent victims of nuclear war.