No mission has been longer – or more important say the Royal Navy – than the patrols performed by the UK’s nuclear armed submarines for the past 50 years.

In a release to mark the milestone, the Royal Navy say that since April 1969 there has always been one submarine from Faslane on the Clyde carrying out Operation Relentless.

“To mark that commitment – and success – high-profile public events, including services of thanksgiving in London and Edinburgh, a parade through the home of the deterrent force on the Clyde and a new commemorative award for crew  are all lined up. Political, industry and naval leaders are determined 2019 also recognises the expertise, innovation and skill of the thousands of people who have designed, built and supported the deterrence force on more than 350 patrols since the late 1960s.”

Today’s generation of Trident-missile-carrying submarines are the size of small aircraft carrier and more complex to build than the Space Shuttle, say the Royal Navy.

For half a century our nuclear submarines have patrolled waters around the world, deterring threats and providing the ultimate guarantee of our security,” said Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson.

Operation Relentless is truly a national endeavour, from the families and friends who have supported our submariners for the past 50 years, to the thousands of British workers who continue to ensure our boats are among the best in the world.

As we to look to the future, it is important we acknowledge the incredible commitment thousands of men and women have made in the past and continue to make, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Philip Jones said:

“Delivery of our nation’s strategic nuclear deterrent is the first duty of the Royal Navy – and Defence as a whole; the importance of this operation and the incredible feat of engineering and logistics that underpins this enormously complex capability, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, cannot be underestimated. The Continuous At-Sea Deterrence is the longest sustained military operation ever undertaken by the UK and this 50th anniversary year presents a valuable opportunity to recognise and thank those from the Naval Service and their families, the wider Ministry of Defence and our many industrial partners who have contributed to this vital national endeavour. 

As we begin our commemoration of this remarkable milestone, it’s fitting that we recognise the extraordinary dedication and professionalism demonstrated by our submariners, through the introduction of a new silver deterrent pin, which signifies completion of at least ten deterrent patrols. Their service at sea in our Vanguard class nuclear submarines lies at the heart of this mission’s continued success and I’m pleased to be presenting the first six of these new silver deterrent pins today.”