Secret and Silent: Conference

Event Date: 
Friday, 15 June 2018 - 10:00am to Saturday, 16 June 2018 - 4:00pm

Secret and Silent: Conference 

Location: Action Stations Auditorium, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

Join us at Silent and Secret: The Conference which marks the 50th Anniversary of the Royal Navy’s continuous at sea deterrent, Polaris, first patrol.

15 June 2018 marks the 50th Anniversary of HMS Resolution, the Royal Navy’s first Polaris SSBN (Submersible Ship Ballistic Nuclear), commencing her first operational patrol. The National Museum’s response is a conference which will focus on the personal accounts and key objects of those who served onboard. 

Alongside the conference, an exhibition at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum will offer a timely opportunity to reveal the challenging nature of working in submarines, highlighting the experiences of those who serve and raising awareness about why there is a nuclear deterrent and the role of the modern Royal Navy Submarine Service. It will also celebrate the mostly unknown achievements of nuclear submarines and encourage a wider debate.

Silent and Secret Agenda

Friday 15 June

10:00 am - Registration and Coffee

10:15 am - Welcome – Professor Dominic Tweddle. Director General, The National Museum of the Royal Navy.

10:30 am - 12:30 am - Panel 1

  • TBC - Speaker and topic TBC 
  • A Very Special Relationship - Anglo American relations from Polaris to Trident. Dr James Jinks. Queen Mary, University of London.
  • ‘The British government, the Public and Nuclear Deterrence’ – Dr Andy Corbett. Defence Studies Department, King’s College London.

12:30 pm -13:00 pm - Lunch

13:00 pm -14:00 pm - Keynote Address – Lord Hennessy of Nympsfield. Queen Mary, University of London

14:00 pm – 15:30 pm - Panel 2

  • Aldermaston and the Royal Navy. Dr Richard More. Visiting Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Science and Security Studies, Department of War Studies, King’s College London; and AWE Historian, Aldermaston
  • “Appropriate Units of the Fleet are Now Being Equipped” – the Royal Navy’s First Acquisition of Nuclear Weapons. Jonathan Aylen. Honorary Senior Research Fellow, Manchester Institute of Innovation Research, University of Manchester, and The Newcomen Society

15:30 pm - 15:45 pm - Coffee

15:45 pm - 17:45 pm - Panel 3

Britain's Nuclear Deterrent: A Moral Case in Favour - Professor Nigel Biggar. Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology, University of Oxford, and author of In Defence of War (2013)

Mixed Messages: The Purpose of Britain's Deterrence and Policy of Multilateral Disarmament. Paul Ingram. Executive Director, British American Security Information Council (BASIC)

The Case Against Trident: A Naval Officer’s Perspective. Commander Rob Forsyth, Royal Navy (Retd). Independent Researcher.

1800 onwards. Waterbus to Royal Navy Submarine Museum. Dinner and Private View of New Exhibition


Saturday 16 June

10:00 am - Coffee and registration

10:15 am - 12:15 pm - Panel 1

  • 21 Momentous Years – From British U-boat to Polaris. Lieutenant-Commander Jock Gardner, Royal Navy (Retd). ‘U-Boat to Polaris’. Naval Historical Branch, UK Ministry of Defence.
  • The Road to Trident. Polaris, PIP, Chevaline. A Different and More Populist View of History. Brian Burnell. Independent Researcher
  • The Development of Nuclear Propulsion in the Royal Navy, 1946-1975. Gareth M Jones, MA. University of Plymouth

12:15 am - 13:00 pm - Lunch

13:00 pm - 15:00 pm - Panel 2

  • When the Match Doesn’t Light. Commander W J Nimmo Scott, OBE, MSc, Royal Navy (Retd). Independent Researcher.
  • Selling Deterrence. Commodore Eric Thompson MBE MSc CEng RN (rtd) DL, Independent Researcher and author of ‘On Her Majesty’s Nuclear Service’ (2018).
  • Commanding an SSBN. Commodore John Milnes, Royal Navy (Retd). Independent Researcher.

1500 - 1515 Coffee

1515 - 1645 Panel 3

Despite Our Best Efforts … The Accident History of the UK Polaris Programme. Dr Peter Burt. Independent Researcher

Title TBC. Commodore Barrie Sadler, Royal Navy (Retd). Barrie Sadler Associates Limited.

1645 - 1700 Closing Remarks. Matthew Sheldon. Executive Director of Heritage Director General, The National Museum of the Royal Navy.



Buy Silent and Secret Conference Tickets 

Choose from our standard ticket which includes weekend entry, lunch, teas and coffees or our premium ticket
which includes a private view of the new exhibition, waterbus transfer to the Submarine Museum, drink on arrival and canapes.

£60.00 (Standard) and £75.00 (Premium) 


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