A ROYAL Navy Submariner from Milford Haven has spoken of his pride after his contribution to defence was recognised by Her Royal Highness Princess Anne.

Chief Petty Officer Karl Davies joined the Submarine Service in 1997, spending most of his underwater career on board ballistic submarines.

Deployed for weeks at a time, never surfacing and with little or no contact with the outside world, Karl has clocked-up a cumulative total of around 11 years beneath the waves contributing towards the nation’s Continuous At Sea Deterrent (CASD).

This year marks 50 years of CASD, making it the longest sustained military operation ever undertaken by the UK armed forces.

Since 1969 at least one ballistic missile submarine has been at sea on patrol, consecutively and continuously, a remarkable human achievement which was recognised at a series of high-profile events around the country.

At one such event at the Home of the UK Submarine Service, HM Naval Base Clyde in Argyll and Bute, Karl was presented with a gold deterrent patrol pin by Her Royal Highness, signifying that he has successfully completed 20 patrols.

“It was an incredible honour,” said Karl. “The event was thought to be the biggest single gathering of Royal Navy Submariners since the Second World War and to receive the gold pin from the Princess in front of my peers and on the 50th anniversary of CASD is definitely the highlight of my career.

“What made it even more special was that my family travelled from Milford Haven to be there,” continued Karl. “I view the presentation of the pin to be as much for them as it is for me. None of us could do what we do without the love and support of our friends and family.”

A former Milford Haven Comprehensive pupil, Karl volunteered for service on board submarines, attracted by the lure of the unknown.

“Submarines rely on stealth and there’s a necessary amount of secrecy surrounding what they do,” he explained. “At the time there wasn’t a lot of information about them, but that’s what I found interesting – the mystery associated with submarine operations.

“There has been highs and lows like any other career, but I haven’t regretted a minute. It’s incredibly rewarding, knowing your part of a team that is doing something not many people get to do and helping to protect our country.”

Karl’s job as a Tactical Specialist sees him overseeing and advising on the emerging intelligence picture, enabling the Submarine to operate without detection.

Each Vanguard-class submarine is operated by a tight-knit crew of around 170 Royal Navy Submariners who sail, operate and maintain the vessel for weeks at a time during patrol.

During this time the submarines never surface – cut-off from the world except for one, 120-word “Familygram” each week from loved-ones back on shore.

Everyone on board from chefs to nuclear engineers must prove they have a thorough understanding of the submarine’s high-tech systems as well as expertise in their own particular trade or specialism.

Only when they have undergone rigorous training and evaluation, on shore and at sea, are they entitled to wear the coveted Dolphin badge which marks a qualified Submariner.