Birthday wish list for Cold War submarine HMS Ocelot ahead of celebrations at Historic Chatham Dockyard

A VCR, cassette tapes and tupperware from the 1980s wouldn’t usually make it on a birthday list.

But that’s exactly what the team at The Historic Dockyard Chatham asked to mark the 60th anniversary of HMS Ocelot.

HMS Ocelot turns 60 this year

The sub will turn 60 on May 5 and on Saturday May 7 there will be a special birthday party at the shipyard.

Guests will include some of the submariners who spent long periods at sea on the Cold War ship, as well as the men and women who built and maintained it in Chatham.

The submarine’s stories will be told on board throughout the year – and that’s why the shipyard wanted to find specific items to be part of the exhibits inside Ocelot.

They asked for things from the 1980s and very early 1990s because that’s the last time Ocelot served – she was decommissioned in 1991. Visitors to the shipyard will see her as she was when of his last commission – with the sights and sounds of the time.

With Ocelot’s 60th birthday just weeks away, the shipyard posted the list of 1980s-themed birthday gifts on its Facebook page.

On the wish list was; two VCRs, two CRT televisions, 20 video cassettes or boxes, a car audio player and food containers from the 1980s.

The birthday wish list was shared on social media
The birthday wish list was shared on social media
Inside HMS Ocelot Photo: Google Streetview
Inside HMS Ocelot Photo: Google Streetview

James Morgan, Head of Heritage Engineering and Historic Vessels, said: “We have been overwhelmed by the positive support and thank our supporters for their donations – we hope they enjoy seeing them on display when they see Ocelot. this coming year.

“However, we are still looking for a car radio with cassette player from the 1980s.”

Some donated items
Some donated items

Meanwhile, a team of staff and volunteers have begun the task of making sure Ocelot is the best it can be before its big day.

Six staff and four volunteers, armed with 320 liters of paint, will spend the next three weeks giving the 73-metre-long vessel a makeover and painting its vast metal skin, with the help of an aerial lift.

It is estimated that the team will complete more than 400 hours of cleaning in total.

Volunteers and staff are working to keep Ocelot looking its best for its birthday
Volunteers and staff are working to keep Ocelot looking its best for its birthday
A volunteer works on board to prepare Ocelot for her birthday
A volunteer works on board to prepare Ocelot for her birthday

Launched in 1962, Ocelot was one of 57 submarines built at Chatham from 1908 to 1966. Construction began on November 17, 1960.

She was the last warship built at Chatham for the Royal Navy and was in service as a spy submarine during the Cold War until she was decommissioned in 1991.

Equipped with a stealth diesel engine and electric motors, Oberon-class submarines such as the Ocelot made perfect surveillance vessels and were selected to undertake often covert missions.

The Ministry of Defense has yet to publish detailed articles on the specific operations and campaigns in which Ocelot took part, but the fairly routine navigational records of its logbooks give a general idea of ​​its history during the Cold War.

After being commissioned on 5 January 1964, Ocelot joined Submarine Squadron Three based at HMNB Clyde in Faslane.

It is known that in the first three years of her commissioning, Ocelot sailed over 90,000 miles, engaged in exercises and trials around the Clyde and Londonderry areas as well as in the Mediterranean and in the cold waters of the Baltic in 1965.

Men who worked on HMS Ocelot when it was launched
Men who worked on HMS Ocelot when it was launched
Life on the submarine was crowded Image: Google Streetview
Life on the submarine was crowded Image: Google Streetview

During the 1960s Ocelot, like many other O-Boats, was heavily involved in the testing of underwater equipment and, in particular, contributed to important Mark 24 torpedo testing work.

Although the secrets of his missions remain hidden to this day, Ocelot is known to have performed NATO exercises during this time.

The submarine was built to accommodate 69 men and life on board was crowded.

There are many stories of how the men lived and one of the favorite stories for children who visit Ocelot is to hear how the submariners were unable to shower, bath or do laundry since all the fresh water was needed for drinking and cooking.

Men often wore only their pants but, since they couldn’t wash them, they wore them one way for a week and then wore them inside out for the next week, the next two weeks the underwear was returned.

Ocelot paid off – when a ship reaches the end of its commission – at Chatham Dockyard in August 1991 after being in active service with the Royal Navy for 27 years.

You can take a virtual tour of Ocelot here.

To mark Ocelot’s 60th anniversary, the dockyard is offering free access to all former Royal Navy submariners and dockyard employees, and their families. To learn more, click here.

Comments are closed.