TWO former submariners have lifted the lid on the story of the UK's submarine service at an event in Largs.

Jim McMaster and his colleague Andy Knox gave a potted history of submarine development to members of the Largs Probus Club.

Jim looked back to the first tentative steps of below-surface navigation, in 1578 when Bourne’s Submarine established neutral buoyancy, through movement when submerged in 1620.

Weaponisation was introduced with a battering ram in 1650, while the first propeller came into use in the American Civil War of 1776. and then the first torpedo in 1866.

The electric battery was a new addition in Holland in 1899, and in the 20th century the diesel generation came into play until the introduction of nuclear propulsion.

Progress was slow because the officer class of the Royal Navy in 1900 deemed the use of submarines to be un-British - and the men who operated them were given the disrespectful title of “The Trade”.

He advised that the use of the skull and crossbones by returning to port submarines first occurred in 1914 with an E9 Class vessel, and Jolly Roger flags are used to this day - HMS Conqueror being the first to add a nuclear symbol.

Andy spoke on the nuclear generation of submarines with the introduction of the Dreadnought class in 1959.

The Royal Navy took over the nuclear deterrent from the RAF in 1968, and a nuclear submarine has been patrolling every single day since 1966, with direct communication to the Government - the longest time spent under water being 196 days.

Future nuclear submarines of the new Dreadnought class will have 12 missiles, giving more room for male and female crew.

Fourteen members of the submarine service received the Victoria Cross in recognition of their service in the First and Second World Wars.

Ray Young, in his vote of thanks, referred to his own seven years’ service in the Royal Navy and the need to acknowledge the bravery of those who serve beneath the waves.

Largs Probus Club's next meet is in the Willowbank Hotel on November 22, when Keith Bruce will speak on 'Scot – Beneath the Surface'.