HMS Ocelot – holidays and Vigil

After a hectic year thus far (and far fewer blog posts) I managed to squeeze in a few days holiday last week.

My love of all things nautical is probably a romantic misunderstanding of the harsh realities sea life, but the latest BBC series Vigil inspired a visit to Chatham Docks.

It was 25 years back when I last went on board the diesel powered Ocelot, but in the intervening years Chatham Docks has become a significant Tourist Attraction.

Since reading about Samuel Pepys a few weeks ago I was on the look out for a significant office or at least plaque commemorating his involvement with the naval activities here.

Sadly he didn’t have so much as a blue plaque, and only one member of staff knew anything about him. There was an assumption that I was really trying to find out about Dickens.

Eventually I was guided to the gardens behind the Commissioners House where Pepys would almost certainly have spent some time on his occasional visits here.

Less than a hundred yards away three vessels are lined up, and open for visitors. I used the opportunity to try and get some sort of handle on the claustrophobia of being inside a narrow steel tube without windows.

In the exciting TV Series Vigil Suranne Jones has flashbacks of being trapped in a submerged car, and is seriously perturbed by being told she has to stay on board for 3 weeks.

So look at this picture, and imagine holding out both arms – you can almost touch the hull on both sides. The Ocelot carried a crew of 68. It is two thirds of the size of the Vanguard Class depicted on the TV, and that vessel has a crew of 135!

If you’re following Vigil each week (and weren’t put off by the first episode) then just try to imagine what it would be like without daylight for months on end. Could you hack it?

I’d be tempted to volunteer given half a chance! Although I’m pretty sure the broad thoroughfares shown on the series have no resemblance to the real vessels.

One last observation. Critics have suggested nobody would be flown out to sea and lowered from a chopper onto a sub.

Don’t you believe it, Marshall Meek did just that whilst blindfolded when he carried out a review of naval safety in the fleet after the Falklands Crisis.

3 comments on “HMS Ocelot – holidays and Vigil”

  1. I loved being on top of the water can’t imagine living life beneath the surface in a narrow steel tube. Haven’t got round to watching Vigil yet

    • Hello David – if you can ignore all the implausibility’s of Episode 1 the story gets going thereafter. I hope you’ve had a good week so far? Stephen

      • Still haven’t started watching it Stephen! We will. All well here thanks. Hope all is well with you.


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