A NUCLEAR-powered submarine has moored at Portland Port for a six-day visit to the area.

HMS Torbay, one of only seven submarines in the Royal Navy, will stay in Portland until Sunday and will open up its hatches for local schoolchildren, sea cadets and potential Navy recruits to tour the vessel during its stay.

Members of the crew will also stay in the local area, and will host a civic reception tonight for invited guests and will attend an event at the Royal Dorset Yacht Club in Weymouth tomorrow evening.

Andy Johns, captain of HMS Torbay, said: “Not a great deal is known about the submarine service. The surface navy and the fleet air arm of the country’s defences are very obvious but because there are only a few submarines and there are only a certain number of berths we can visit there is less known about us.

“People are always surprised by the lack of space and are extremely interested and fascinated by how we live and work here, and how we can fit 130 people on board and feed them.

“It is great to have the chance to show people around, such as the schoolchildren and the recruiters, because the Navy needs to keep recruiting and what we want is if people are interested in joining the Navy they know about the submarine service before they join up.

“Portland has a great association with the Navy, it used to be where we did our training and the port was a very busy naval port and it’s really good to be back here.”

HMS Torbay is 85 metres long and has a displacement of 5,400 tonnes of water. It can stay under water for a maximum of 95 days at a time, and is completely self-sufficient, with the submarine creating its own clean air and drinking water. It also has a nuclear reactor, which powers the vessel.

It is home to 130 crew on board and boasts Tomahawk missiles and Spearfish torpedoes as part of its arsenal.

Andy Perks, lieutenant commander of the vessel, has been part of the Navy for 11 years and is also the submarine’s weapons engineer.

Lt. Perks said: “This is a really good opportunity for us to come to Portland and keep our engagement with the local region going.

“We will have lots of people coming on to the submarine and it also provides the sailors with a chance for rest and recuperation, and to spend some of our hard-earned money.

“Submarines are historically quite secretive and we find members of the public are really interested in them and it is quite cool for us to show the public around them and how we work, because these are essentially their submarines.”