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Ms Mordaunt, the MP for Portsmouth North, home of the Royal Navy, made the comments after attending the ceremony for the new submariner memorial which was dedicated in the presence of Commodore-in-Chief Submarines Prince William at the National Memorial Arboretum, Alrewas, Staffordshire. The service was for the men who have manned the submarines carrying Britain’s “continuously at sea” nuclear deterrent around the clock for more than 50 years.
Ms Mordaunt, a committed Brexiteer who has won plaudits for securing trade deals in the US and around the world. noted that while the defamation case between the two England footballers’ wives has raged on and dominated headlines in the last few weeks, more should have been made of “the silent service” of those who have often given their lives to protect Britain.
Since the Second World War some 450 submariners have lost their lives in service and until now there has been nowhere for families, friends, and shipmates of the fallen where they can try and find peace in the face of tragedy.
The memorial is a vital place for personal reflection, repair, and renewal, and somewhere for the submarine community to come together as a family in remembrance.
Ms Mordaunt said: “Can a country have a brand? Are there characteristics of being British? Is there any such thing? There are a clear set of values that emanate from here. These are very specific to this country.”
Penny Mordaunt has paid tribute to the sailors who have kept Britain’s nuclear deterrent at sea
She went on: “In a week in which the Wagatha court case dominated the headlines there was a significant event that went almost unreported.
“I was privileged to attend one event last week that attracted almost no attention. This was the dedication of the Submariner’s Memorial at the National Arboretum.
“This recognised the enormous sacrifice made by submariner’s families and was primarily funded by them.
“Did you know that they are only allowed 120 words a week to communicate with their loved ones? Did you know that a senior NCO serving in the submarine service may have spent a decade of their life underwater in the service of our nation?
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Prince William led the dedication of the submariners’ memorial
“For over fifty years, they have been on a constant mission to maintain Britain’s nuclear deterrent.
“Not surprisingly, these are people that use their words carefully. These men and women do perhaps the most serious job there is.
“Their service is the primary reason why Putin’s threats ring hollow. Why he cannot do to us, or those we defend, what he’s done to Ukraine.”
She went on: “At this dedication, I was struck by a great British quality – like the Submariners, so many just simply get on with it. They don’t complain, they take responsibility, and they want no recognition for it .
“They represent the silent heroes in every community. These people know that if they do their job really well, then no-one will notice.”
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She added: “At the end of the week where thousands of words were spoken and written about the trivia of the Rooney vs. Vardy trial, remember the silent service.
“They’re out there now keeping you and the country safe. There is a boat packed with live, nuclear weapons operated and cared for by skilled and trusted engineers, navigators and technicians.
“Their families have no idea where they are. They don’t know when or if they’re coming back. They love and are loved by their families. They love their country. They’re willing to die for it. They don’t want anything in return.
“In a world of trivia and troubles, we should be proud of these Britons and their service. It is the very epitome of what it means to be British.”
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Prince William also paid tribute to the naval heroes and Paul Day who designed the new monument.
He said: “It is a great testament to the spirit of this indomitable community that everyone came together to make the image of this memorial a reality.
“That all parts of the submarine community: serving, veterans, families and the submarine industries have come together to raise the large amount of money needed is testament to your spirit and energy.”
Chairman of the appeal, Vice Admiral Peter John Wilkinson said: “There is no more challenging environment in which to work – the great oceans of the world are tough enough, but to operate safely and effectively, deep under their surface demands great skill and dedication.
“And for many, we must also acknowledge the enduring pain caused by the memory of lost shipmates, who made the ultimate sacrifice on our behalf. I know that this memorial, this arboretum, means something to every one of us.”