Facing the Power of the Atlantic – An Oardacious Expedition

Facing the Power of the Atlantic – An Oardacious Expedition

s been a busy 8 months for the HMS Oardacious team since we officially announced

our Atlantic campaign on 1 Nov 2018. We have built a successful sponsorship campaign that has

seen an incredible flow of support from a wide array of organisations from the Submarine

Enterprise, our Defence affiliates and other organisations that support our UK Armed Forces, all in

the name of Charity and Adventure. This blog highlights some of our upcoming engagements, the training we are undergoing with the support of the Royal Navy experts and finally our stance on Mental Health and how we, HMS Oardacious are working with the Royal Navy & Royal Marines charity to do something about it!

HMS Oardacious - Army vs Navy Rugby

HMS Oardacious - Army vs Navy Rugby

Tick, tock, tick, tock, tick...............Beneath the West Stand, the final warm up completed; a moment of silent reflection; the changing room is quiet. Surrounded by team mates who have spent weeks together preparing for today. Out into the tunnel. The anthem is sung. To the roar of the 82,000 crowd the match begins. If you play well the affirmation is instant, the noise levels rise, perhaps a chorus of “Heart of Oak’ sounds out. If the game turns the Navy fans go silent and all that is heard is Army noise. For eighty minutes the physical, brutal encounter is full on, but sport is also a mental challenge, and that drive, the desire, the cause fuel the mind as the body is pushed further and further into physical debt. By the end lungs are burning, the body racked by subdued pain. Over the next couple of days, as the adrenalin subsides, only then will the real pain in the body be felt. For over 100 years this has been the story of players at the annual Army v Navy Match.

Splish, splash, splish, splash, splish………………The Atlantic is calm, only the rolling swell gives a hint of the power she possesses.  Her waters continually lap against the hull of the small rowing boat.  Two of the four are rowing as part of their two hours on, two hours off routine.  The splish as the oar catches the water, breath exhaled as the power transferred and then both body and oar recoil for the next stoke.  Minute, by minute, hour by hour, day by day, the steady progress is recorded on the tracker as the 3000 miles from the Canary Isles to Antigua count down.  There is no crowd, there are no instant accolades.  Long periods spent in silence, the body is aching, but though this is one of sport’s most brutal endurance challenges it is more the mental endurance than physical prowess that defines the athletes.  On board HMS Oardacious the mental resilience remains strong.

As the four submariners push themselves through the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge they have to remain focussed on the task, the hour, the minute ahead.  But below them they know that their colleagues continue to do their duty in the Atlantic depths.  Five years before the first Army Navy Match, Holland 1 was put to sea and so began the close fraternity of the British Submarine Service.  Conditions are harsh, risks can be high.  Tension is a common companion as the hunters strive to avoid being the hunted.  As a silent boat plays her high stake games of cat and mouse, listening but not being heard, silently delivering special operation personnel into the heart of the maritime battle, and, for the last fifty years, providing the unbroken task of the continuous deterrent from the depths beneath the ocean waves. 

 Dylan Woods and Callum Fraser are well versed in the hardships of submarine life but their two colleagues, Hugo Mitchell-Heggs and Matty Harvey are also capped Navy rugby players who have graced previous Army v Navy Matches and will be able to bring their rugby experience to the rowing challenge.  And if further inspiration is needed then perhaps a look through the history book and what a couple of other Navy Rugby submariner’s achieved may provide additional reassurance and motivation about the submariner’s legendary resourcefulness and determination. 

The 1927 Army v Navy match saw the debut of two submariners, Geoff Sladen and John ‘ Tubby’ Linton, who were to write their own unique chapters in the history of achievement of the Submarine Service, as well as helping to deliver the Navy’s fourth Inter Service title, to tie the score with the Army.  At some stage during their Challenge, HMS Oardacious will no doubt require resourcefulness and in Cdr Geoff Sladen DSO DSC the Submarine Service had one of the finest.  Famous for the Sladen Suit, a redesigned dry suit that enabled the effective use of the manned torpedoes, his work with the Admiralty’s Experimental Diving Unit provided an imaginative solution at the speed that war-time requirements needed.  He also managed once to bring a reindeer home with him on the submarine following a visit to Russia.  The reindeer was eventually relocated to London Zoo, but embarking, stabling, feeding and unloading a reindeer on WWII submarines was not something regularly trained for!

 Commander John Linton VC, DSO DSC is one of two Navy Rugby players who were awarded the Victoria Cross.  If the exploits of Arthur Harrison have become famous through his England Rugby association then those of Tubby are equally impressive.  Unusually for a VC award it was not for single act of valour but instead for a sustained, determined and relentless pursuit of enemy shipping across the Mediterranean theatre in WWII.  In a single calendar year he led his HMS Turbulent crew for over 250 days at sea and nearly 3000 hours dived to sink over 90,000 tonnes of enemy shipping.  13 times he survived the silent tension of being hunted but returned to the attack with determination, with a flair for tactics and a mental robustness to ensure it was not he who blinked first.  England Rugby introduced an award to their player for ‘best defence in a match’ named after Harrison.  If they introduced one for attack, then it should probably be the Tubby Linton Cup.

 If the HMS Oardacious team can take inspiration from Sladen and Linton, and the previous exploits of the Submarine Service, to help them through what will surely be turbulent times in the Atlantic then they can also take motivation from one of the basic underlying truths of the Army v Navy Match.  As Hugo and Matty will be aware the rugby rivalry between the two oldest of foes runs deep.  As the rowers line up at La Gomera on 12 December they will be able to survey the sixteen other 4 man teams.  They will want to beat them all but the livery on the Force Atlantic (UK)’s boat will highlight them as the official Army entrant and for most of the Navy supporters in the crowd today that provides the simplest of all measures of success.  As long as when HMS Oardacious enters Nelson’s Dockyard in Antigua they are ahead of the Army then the Silent Service will deservedly be allowed to roar.

 HMS Oardacious Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge is the Royal Navy’s official entry in to the race.  The team are grateful for the generous support given by today’s match sponsor, Babcock International.  They are raising money for the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity and their exploits can be followed via HMSOardacious.com.

Credit - Army Navy Magazine

Submariner ethos: Unity & Heritage

There is a Democracy of Things Real in the boats which is a very fine kind of Democracy. Both men and officers in a submarine know that each man's life is held in the hands of any one of them, who by carelessness or ignorance may make their ship into a common coffin; all ranks live close together, and when the occasion arises go to their deaths in the same way. The Fear of Death is a great leveller, and in submarines an officer or a man's competency for his job is the only real standard by which he is judged.”  Written in “The Story of Our Submarines” by John Bower (1919), himself a World War 1 submarine Commanding Officer.  

As our HMS Oardacious campaign evolves and grows, so does the wonderful story.  A very special element of being Submariners is our involvement in a much wider community, one that stretches out to our industrial partners, affiliates, families, friends and of course our veteran community who form such an integral aspect of our Submarine service.  Heritage forms a key part our ethos and a cornerstone to what being a Submariner is all about.  We were humbled to have been invited to attend the Submariner’s Association AGM which had us present the HMS Oardacious endeavour to more than 100 submarine service Veterans; we could not have been more proud to have shared this story with our veteran community, those who have sacrificed so much and to share this adventure with these incredible people truly reinforced our purpose.  We will continue to build on this story, to inspire others as we have been inspired by those before us.

This story would not however be possible without the incredible support from our Official partners who support both HMS Oardacious and the wider Royal Navy Submarine Service.  We would take this opportunity to announce our Gold partners BAE Systems who design, build, test and commission the most advanced Submarines ever operated by the Royal Navy.  

We are also delighted to announce our latest Bronze partners Lockheed Martin who have operated in the UK for 80 years and not only support the Royal Navy and Royal Marines under, on and above the sea, but are incredibly proud to provide ongoing support to the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity (RNRMC).

Submariners Association AGM -  photocredit RN phot Belinda Alker

Submariners Association AGM - photocredit RN phot Belinda Alker

Team manager’s blog 13 Feb 2019

Team manager’s blog 13 Feb 2019

When we go to sea, we don’t get there solely through the actions of our own team. We rely on the

hard work, dedication, intellectual horsepower, imagination and expertise of thousands of people

who form part of the Submarine Enterprise across the United Kingdom. This list of people who get

our Submarines to sea, forming the United Kingdom’s strategic nuclear deterrent, and our

formidable Attack Submarine force, is long and varied, and is reflected in the partners who have

stepped forward to support us in HMS OARDACIOUS.

“Today I will do what other won’t so that tomorrow I can do what other can’t!"

“Today I will do what other won’t so that tomorrow I can do what other can’t!"

This week sees our strength and conditioning programme come to the forefront with a fantastic plan professionally put together with the help and support of our S&C advisor, Pat Coy (Royal Marines). The aim of the first Block of our programme is to build a strength baseline, with our go to movements being Back Squats, Deadlifts and Bench-press… backed up with some significant accessory work!

Though it may be difficult for individuals to trust a new training regime, by trusting a shared programme and buying into a mutual mentality, we can promise ourselves that best shot to be in the best physical shape we can be in at the start of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge race and take part with a view to win! By no means are we taking our eye of the rowing element of the prep with plenty of ERGO/Rowing Machine sessions planned in too!

A key part of our Strength and Conditioning plan is Nutrition, and we are very lucky to welcome our latest HMS Oardacious Bronze partner: The Weston Biltong Company; a fantastic fourth generation British farming family who have kindly supporting the HMS Oardacious crew with a small mountain of high protein Biltong to help sustain us during our training as well as on our Atlantic Crossing

Happy New Year CASD50!

Happy New Year CASD50!

Happy New Year! 2019 also marks a very special milestone for the Royal Navy:

Since April 1969, and the fifth patrol of HMS Resolution, there has always been a Royal Navy Ballistic Missile Submarine at sea, providing a Continuous At Sea Deterrent (CASD), and ensuring that the UK remains safe. This year marks 50 years of unbroken service in maintaining CASD. We could not be more proud to be a part of the many events showcasing the human endeavour and commitment necessary to sustain this vital operation.

We are also delighted to kick start 2019 announcing our second Silver Partners TPGROUP.

We will be rowing across the Atlantic Ocean THIS YEAR! We promise to remain focused, we promise to prepare diligently and we promise to give it our absolute best, if not for ourselves but for all of you wonderful people supporting us and our fantastic Royal Navy & Royal Marines Charity!

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Another week has rolled on and the HMS Oardacious crew are all finished in their respective roles for the festive period and are all back celebrating Christmas at home with family and friends, something that, with the nature of our jobs and the ever changing submarine program is a treat in itself. Many of our forces personnel will not get this luxury in 2018; across the Tri-service many of our servicemen and woman will not be with their loved ones this Christmas and we would like to spare a thought for these selfless individuals who have the nation’s security at the top of their priorities.

Season's Greetings

Season's Greetings

Season’s Greetings!

Another week goes by and the HMS Oardacious campaign continues to build on its success to date!

We are proud to announce our latest Partner: “Babcock International Group”, who for more than a century have been trusted to deliver bespoke, highly-skilled engineering services.

As we enter this festive period, thoughts remain with our deployed Submariner brothers and sisters as well as all those serving in the armed forces deployed over this holiday period.  Similar thought also goes out to the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge 2018 teams who set sail from La Gomera this Wednesday gone and start their epic trans-Atlantic journey!  We will be following closely.

Royal Navy Heritage

Royal Navy Heritage

 We were privileged to have the use of Nelson’s flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar, HMS Victory, where we held interviews, and reflected on the enormity of our challenge, in comparison to the perils that were faced by the Ship’s Company of that great vessel. We are embarking on an adventure into the unknown, with unknown perils ahead of us, and those similar thoughts must have been in the minds of every sailor on board that ship as they entered into battle.  We don’t face a fierce enemy, but the Atlantic Ocean can be just as unforgiving and hostile, and we need to be ready to face down that danger, and ensure the boat and the team pulls together and conquers that peril. 

The Journey

The Journey

An entire month has passed since we announced our campaign start; the pace has not slowed down one bit!  We are truly humbled by the level of support shown by all those we’ve reached so far with this endeavour.  We are delighted to welcome new Bronze partners Xpedite and Advanced Marine Innovation Technology Subsea Ltd (AMITS) to the HMS Oardacious family.