Tuesday, July 30, 2019

X-51 (HMS Stickleback)

In July 2019 I found myself in Helensburgh, Scotland, stood outside the Scottish Submarine Centre, a place that I had never heard of but I was guessing it was a museum related to the Royal Navy submarine service which had a base just six miles from here at Faslane, a base that has just commemorated 50 years of the Continuous At Sea Deterrent where a nuclear submarine is said to be at sea 24 hours a day 365 days a year. 

But this museum is nothing to do with that. Instead it is a celebration of the X-Craft, a small submarine most famous for the daring attack on the German battleship Tirpitz during the Second World War. 

Inside I was greeted by a man named Brian Keating who has worked hard with the other team members to make this museum a treasure trove of information on these legendary subs and he started to tell me the story of the X-51

She was built as one of four mini-subs numbered 51 to 54 but once launched the X-51, also known as HMS Stickleback, was only actually in service for three years with the Royal Navy. She was sold to Sweden where she was renamed Spiggen (Swedish for Stickleback) and was used for their military for a number of years. 

When the sub was retired it was held in storage back in the UK until the creation of the Scottish Submarine Centre and it was finally put on display in early 2018. Inside the hall the sub sits on a plinth with a video show projected onto the surrounding walls telling the story of the X-Craft and the journey of the submarine that you are now standing under. 
What I thought was particularly interesting was the light show beamed onto the submarine body itself to show you what the different compartments contained and where they were. 

Speaking to Brian after the show he told me in more detail the future plans to commemorate other submarine events throughout history and how they had previously had a WWI centenary show on the anniversary of the armistice. 

This small museum is a fascinating place to visit and for a donation of just £5 it is well worth it. Hopefully in time there will be more visitors and further funding as this museum has potential to be even greater and the staff are obviously very enthusiastic about what they are doing. 

For further information visit http://www.scottishsubmarine.com

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