Commander Crosby, Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers and Ratings,
As the very proud Sponsor of H.M.S. ASTUTE, I am delighted to be with you today to mark the tenth anniversary of the Commissioning ceremony. I remember so well the 27th August 2010, as we watched this magnificent boat enter into active service. On that day, I half-jokingly wondered if I would ever join you for a dive. While that has not yet proved possible – (somewhat to my relief!) – I have taken an enormous interest in your work over the past decade. As ‘first of class and best of class’, you have covered more than 19,000 nautical miles, operating in some of the most diverse and challenging areas of the globe.
Your remarkable achievements bring to mind some wise words of Sir Winston Churchill, which are particularly resonant following this year’s V.E. and V.J. Day celebrations. Speaking of the Submarine Service during the Second World War, Churchill said:
Of all the branches of men in the forces, there is none which shows more devotion and faces grimmer perils than the submariners. Great deeds are done in the air and on the land; nevertheless, nothing surpasses your exploits.
Churchill knew of what he spoke: he had been First Lord of the Admiralty at the outbreak of the First World War. It was he who insisted that submarines be named, rather than numbered. He intended this as a sign of respect to those in the silent service, who protect our nation unseen and, too often, un-appreciated. To me, the name ‘ASTUTE’ is an apt one. It of course reminds us of the submarine’s predecessor. But it also highlights the shrewdness with which you consistently grasp and take advantage of the situations you encounter under the water. Your ability to do so has rendered this country deeply in your debt, and I should like to thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am only sorry that today I am unable to shake each of you by the hand to express my gratitude, but sadly that will have to wait until the Covid restrictions have lifted.
We are equally in debt to your families, who steadfastly keep the home fires burning, while sharing the stresses and strains endured by all those on board. Please tell them, from me, how much I admire their loyalty, stoicism and support.
And now, as we look forward to the next ten years of ASTUTE’s service, please know that, wherever you may be, I will be holding you all in my thoughts and prayers. I am certain that, just as you have always done, you will continue to carry out your duties with the pride that comes of being at the forefront of our Naval prowess. May you always return safely to harbour. Thank you.