Vice-Adm. Robert "Tubby" Squires
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Posted 08 August 2016 - 12:48 AM
"Vice Admiral Robert “Tubby” Squires, who has died aged 89, helped to commission Britain’s first nuclear-powered submarine.
In 1960, when he was appointed first lieutenant of Dreadnought, there were no nuclear-qualified submariners, and Squires, two doctors, a constructor officer and Dreadnought’s future captain, Peter Samborne, began their training in the newly created nuclear physics department of the Royal Naval College, Greenwich.
There, “Jason”, a small nuclear reactor, was installed in the cellars of the 17th-century former royal palace in south London.
Next, Squires attended the US Navy submarine school. Admiral Hyman G Rickover, the autocrat in charge of the USN’s nuclear programme, had ruled that no British officer was to set foot in one of “his” submarines, but Squires and two chief petty officers briefly joined USS Skate in 1962, shortly after she returned from having surfaced at the North Pole.
Squires moved on to USS Swordfish for a happy and instructive nine months while the submarine deployed from her base in New London, Connecticut, through the Panama Canal to Pearl Harbour. Squires made many friends for life among his American contemporaries.
Returning to Britain, he stood by Dreadnought while she was building at Barrow-on-Furness. She was the seventh ship of her name and was powered by an American S5W reactor, a design made available as a result of a US–UK Mutual Defence Agreement. Her launch by the Queen, symbolically on Trafalgar Day, October 21 1960, owed much to the drive of the First Sea Lord, Earl Mountbatten of Burma, and his relationship with the US Navy’s Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Arleigh Burke, who had overruled Rickover.
He was a modest man who eschewed honours, even the knighthood offered him at the end of his career
The successful sea trials of Britain’s first nuclear-powered warship, and its commissioning on April 17 1963, owed much to loyalty, efficiency and reliability of Squires, and to his leadership, tact and cheerfulness.
A soldier’s son, Robert Risley Squires was born at Farnham Royal on February 11 1927, and educated at Summer Fields, Geelong Grammar School and Eton College. He entered the Britannia Royal Naval College, then still at its wartime home of Eaton Hall in Cheshire, in 1944, and was awarded the King’s telescope on passing out.
He underwent training in the destroyers Wizard and St James and battleships Anson and King George V, joining the last of those in Tokyo Bay on the evening of the signing of the Japanese surrender. He saw the Far East, Australia and South Africa, and, while a midshipman, was recognised as an outstanding young officer."
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