THE last survivor of the HMS Truculent disaster joined the 58th annual memorial service for his fellow shipmates.
Fred Henley, 84, was part of the large congregation at the St George’s Centre, Chatham Maritime, on Saturday, remembering the 64 submariners and dockyard workers who perished in the tragic accident.
He said: “I have been coming here every year since 1998. I still want to remember the lads, my shipmates.”
The submarine HMS Truculent sunk after it collided with a Swedish cargo vessel in the Royal Navy’s worst disaster since the Second World War.
It happened on January 12, 1950, as she was returning to Chatham Dockyard after a training exercise.
He said: “I was on the conning tower when it happened and I ended up in the freezing water.
“A Dutch merchant vessel eventually picked us up but it’s a miracle I survived.”
Mr Henley and other survivors suffered hypothermia and were cared for at the then Royal Naval Hospital in Gillingham.
The crash happened 15 miles off the coast of the Isle of Sheppey and only 15 people on the submarine survived.
The service, organised by the Medway Towns Branch of the Submariners Association, was attended by Medway’s mayor Cllr Val Goulden and her husband Cllr Tony Goulden.
The mayor read the first lesson and the Rev Alan Boxall read the second lesson.
An account of HMS Truculent’s last day was read by Ted Hogben, chairman of the Medway Submariners Association, while the sermon was read by the Rev Martin Robbins.
Mr Henley was born in Gillingham and lived in King Street. He now lives in Clacton