End of era for Gosport’s iconic submarine escape tower

For the last time the team who teach submariners how to escape from a stricken boat gather at a Gosport landmark before the iconic structure closes.

Tens of thousands of submariners have passed through the Submarine Escape Training Tank (SETT) since July 13 1954 when the first man ascended the 100ft column of water to simulate emerging from a sunken submarine.

With the entire submarine flotilla moving to Faslane – as well as advances in submarine design, escape training and changes in the way rescues are handled – the SETT is no longer required.

The tower was built between 1949 and 1953 as part of a wholesale revamp of submarine escape training, prompted by a report drawn up by Captain Phillip Ruck-Keene just after World War 2.

The loss of HMS Thetis – on the eve of war – and HMS Truculent – sunk in the Thames after colliding with a Swedish tanker in January 1950 – both with heavy loss of live, as well as many other submarines accidents and experiences played a significant role in the lessons taught.

Using the tank, submariners are expected to escape without breathing apparatus; they use a specially-designed escape suite to breathe as required.