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 H.M.S. Sceptre


Once Navy always Navy


Now decommissioned

4 members of the branch attended the decommissioning of the Sceptre in Plymouth on the 10th of December 2010.  A sad day for everyone, both ship's company past, and all who were affiliated to her over the years.  The branch members who went down to Plymouth were made extremely welcome, both at the decommissioning, and in the Wardroom the night before.  We will all miss the past runs ashore with the Sceptre lads, but hope that contact will continue with now ex-ships company, and runs ashore will continue in the future.  A big thank you to the lads for making us welcome.


Built by Vickers in Barrow-in-Furness, HMS SCEPTRE was commissioned on 14th February 1978 by Lady Audrey White.
She was the tenth nuclear powered Fleet, or Attack, submarine to enter service with the Royal Navy and the first of a new generation of nuclear powered submarines to be named after a previous submarine.

The modern SCEPTRE is a giant compared to her predecessors


The name of HMS SCEPTRE carries with it a long and respected tradition in the Royal Navy. The flash movie shows HMS Sceptre during WWII along with the present HMS SCEPTRE, which is the fifth vessel to hold the name and continue upholding the finest traditions of the Service.

Displacement: 4,400 tons Standard; 4,900 tons dived
Length: 83 m Beam: 9.8 m Draught: 8.5m Complement: 116 (13 Officers)


5 tubes capable of firing:
Spearfish Torpedoes
Tigerfish Torpedoes
RN Sub Harpoon Missiles
Tomahawk Missiles (HMS Splendid only)
Sonar including Bow, Flank, Active Intercept and Towed Arrays
Attack and Search Periscopes
Collision avoidance radar
Electronic warfare equipment


The first HMS SCEPTRE was a Third Rate Frigate launched on 8 Jun 1781 at Rotherhithe. As part of Vice Admiral Sir Edward Hughes' squadron, SCEPTRE saw much action as part of the East India squadron. In 1782, she participated in the fourth battle of a bloody campaign between Vice Admiral Hughes and the French Admiral Suffren's squadron.

Further action in 1794 as apart of a force under the command of Commodore John Ford resulted in the capture of Port au Prince, Haiti. Action in 1795 saw SCEPTRE gain her second Battle Honour in Vice Admiral Sir Keith Elphinstone's squadron, which captured a Dutch squadron in Saldanha Bay.

The first SCEPTRE was lost with all 291 hands during a hurricane in Table Bay, Cape of Good Hope, when a series of anchor cables parted in the rising winds.


The second HMS SCEPTRE, of the Repulse Class, was launched on 11 December 1802 at Deptford. She participated in the capture and destruction of the French SEINE and LOIRE in Barque cove, Guadeloupe. In 1808 SCEPTRE, in company with Cornwallis, engaged and destroyed the French frigate SEMILLANTE, together with the shore batteries that she sought to protect. She served for 6 years in the East Indies before transferring to the Caribbean.

Her final years were spent in the Channel blockade of the French before she was finally broken up in 1821. It was to be nearly 100 years before a new SCEPTRE saw service.


The third HMS SCEPTRE was launched on 13 April 1917 in Glasgow. During sea trials she averaged nearly 36 knots in a Force 6. In total 51 ships were in this class and saw service from 1916 to 1917, suffering comparatively light losses. SCEPTRE saw action as part of Admiral Beattie's force, primarily employed in convoy escort and patrol duty in the North Sea and Atlantic. On 17 July 1917, SCEPTRE shot down a Zeppelin and later that year she sank an armed German trawler. She survived the war and was sold for disposal in 1926.


The fourth HMS SCEPTRE was a 1940 programme S-Class patrol submarine launched on 9 Jan 1943 in Greenock, although she was laid down in July 1940. SCEPTRE joined the 3rd Submarine Flotilla in April 1943 and was based at Holy Loch. She then detached to Scapa Flow to be used for the Submarine Commanding Officer's Qualifying Course, the Perisher. Whilst exercising to the west of the Orkneys, she was depth charged in error by the RAF and her hull was slightly buckled which required docking for repairs.

After an uneventful first patrol, she was fitted with special towing gear and proceeded to Loch Cairnbawn. Here she joined up with 2 T-Class and 3 S-Class submarines, together with the depot ships TITANIA and BONADVENTURE, the last named being the depot ship for the X-craft midget submarines. SCEPTRE left Loch Cairnbawn on 12 September 1943 with X-10 in tow. The aim was to attack the battleship TIRPITZ at Kaa Fjord. These attacks were necessary to remove the threat imposed by the German Battleships to convoys on their way to Russia. Six X-craft were used to attack shipping in the fjords, with the attack on the TIRPITZ putting her out of action for nearly a year.

In April 1944, SCEPTRE left for another "special operation" with the X-24 in tow. X-24 penetrated Bergen Harbour and sank the merchant ship BARENFELS as well as damaging large sections of the floating dock in the harbour. SCEPTRE earned the title of "Bring them back alive" as she was the only towing submarine which lost none of the X-craft in her care.

Commanded by Lieutenant I S McIntosh MBE DSC throughout her short but active service career, SCEPTRE sank 6 ships - 4 merchant vessels of 14,393 gross register tons and 2 escorts of 1,444 displacement tons. This total and tonnage was unequalled by any other submarine in home waters during the period.

At the end of the war, SCEPTRE was allocated to the Seventh Submarine Flotilla and used for training, based at Lochalsh. She continued to run as a training unit based Portland until February 1947. She was finally sold to the British Iron and Steel Corporation for scrap in August 1949.




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