On Her Majesty's Nuclear Service

Eric Thompson

One of the first ever memoirs by a Royal Navy nuclear submarine officer, this is the inside story of the men who ensured that 'Mutually Assured Destruction' was maintained at all times during the Cold War.
Publication date:
February 2018
Publisher :
Casemate Publishers
Illustration :
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ISBN : 9781612005713

Dimensions : 228 X 152 mm
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ISBN : 9781612008943

Dimensions : 228 X 152 mm
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• First ever memoir by a Royal Navy ballistic missile submarine officer, whose career spanned the entire Cold War
• An insight into the secret world of deterrent submarine patrols

During the Cold War, nuclear submarines performed the greatest public service of all: prevention of a third world war. History shows that they succeeded; the Cold War ended peacefully, but for security reasons, only now can this story be told.

Eric Thompson is a career nuclear submarine officer who served from the first days of the Polaris missile boats until after the end of the Cold War. He joined the Navy in the last days of Empire, made his first sorties in World War II type submarines and ended up as the top engineer in charge of the navy's nuclear power plants. Along the way, he helped develop all manner of kit, from guided torpedoes to the Trident ballistic missile system. In this vivid personal account of his submarine operations, he reveals what it was like to literally have your finger on the nuclear button.

In his journey, the author leads the reader through top-secret submarine patrols, hush-hush scientific trials, underwater weapon developments, public relations battles with nuclear protesters, arm-wrestling with politicians and the changing roles of females and homosexuals in the Navy. It is essentially a human story, rich in both drama and comedy, like the Russian spy trawler that played dance music at passing submarines. There was never a dull moment.

Behind the lighter moments was a deadly serious game. This, the inside story of Britain's nuclear deterrent, reveals the secretive life of submarines and the men who served on them; they kept their watch, and by maintaining the threat of ‘Mutually Assured Destruction' helped keep Britain and the world safe.


Overall, I would thoroughly recommend the book. It was an interesting, sometimes thought provoking, but above all an entertaining read.
Nuclear Future

A revealing book and essential reading for those wanting to understand the chilling detail of how Britain's nuclear deterrent is operated.
Britain at War Magazine

It is written in a delightfully understated, humourous style with some quirky turns of phrase, which forms an unusual didactic prose but nevertheless makes it an absorbing read.

This is a recommended read for anyone with an interest in the naval, social and political history of the second half of the Twentieth Century.
Naval Officers Club Newsletter

…an engaging, thoroughly entertaining read, which also serves up contemplation (and education) about the unthinkable.
Warships International

One wonders now if the "mutually assured destruction" threat has any real meaning with respect to Britain's nuclear deterrent. Fascinating slice of cold war history.
Books Monthly

After so often reading of accidents and problems afflicting Britain's nuclear submarine fleet in often sensationalised articles in the general media, it is refreshing to learn what really happens directly from a knowledgeable and reliable source.
Baird Maritime

This is a compelling story of a man's life with high, lows and plenty of humour. Another recommended read for anyone interested in submarines, life in the navy or the Cold War period.
ORCA Master Account - DO NOT USE

Listed in Military History Monthly's round up of the best military history titles for May 2018.
Military History Matters (Reviewer)