Saturday, 24 October 2020

Rotary Club of Henley Bridge

Rotary Club of Henley Bridge

THE club was delighted to welcome Captain David Balston, director of policy at the UK Chamber of Shipping, to its January speaker meeting.

He gave a talk about the work of Trinity House and his 32-year career in the Royal Navy during which he commanded three submarines, including a
Trident.

David explained that Trinity House is a charity dedicated to safeguarding shipping and sailors.

It is responsible for ensuring that lighthouses, buoys and other safety measures are working properly.

It has other responsibilities including providing education, welfare support and almshouses for sailors.

Trinity House was established in 1514 after a guild of mariners using the tidal Thames were concerned about poor conduct on the river with inexperienced sailors endangering life and causing many avoidable accidents. The first master was Sir Thomas Spert, master of the Mary Rose.

Since then Trinity House has evolved to become responsible for navigation around Britain, welfare provision and training sailors, including naval pilots.

As a submarine commander, David was often at sea for as long as 14 weeks with no contact with family or indeed anyone above the sea as the location of submarines is a closely guarded secret.

His submarine took part in the Falklands War and during the Cold War was closely involved in tracking Russian submarines.

David talked about incidents on board which in retrospect were funny but at the time were difficult to manage.

For example, on one trip a disgruntled sailor responsible for the stores waived the submarine off with 14 weeks’ supply of sweet corn and luncheon meat — not a great menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner!

Having served on two diesel submarines, David was able to speak from experience when he told us that this was very unpleasant as everything — food, clothes, possessions and your skin — become impregnated with the smell of diesel, which takes a good scrub to remove.

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