HMS Oardacious – 4 Submariners set to row the Atlantic

We all get emails, some spark more of an interest than others, but a few, a rare few, make you sit up and grab your attention.

Lt Hugo Mitchell-Heggs RN got in contact to let me know about a challenge that caught my imagination. I’ve been following long distance rowing challenges on an ad hoc basis, after seeing Ben Fogle and James Cracknell famously row the Atlantic in my early teenage years. I even took up rowing, very briefly, but at 5ft 7″ tall, I’m not exactly designed to row, especially not in a team of giants.

HMS Oardacious

Photo Credit Andrew Parish – AJP Media

4 Royal Navy Submariners will row unsupported across the Atlantic Ocean in December 2019 racing in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. A 3000 mile, unsupported race across the Atlantic Ocean, from La Gomera to Antigua, What sets this team apart from all their fellow boat crews is the nature of their job. Who else can say they spend their working days underwater, sleep underwater and above all spend weeks, if not months at sea, in a role that world few of us can understand or relate to. Of course, the first question this conjures up is the bleeding obvious….. how do you train?

The Talker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, though an organised race, is anything but predictable. With the team set to row over 1.5 million oar strokes, waves up to and in excess of 20ft high standing in their way, 12kg of weight lost on average per team member and the psychological isolation of the 3000 miles of open ocean, it is a immense strain on body, and more importantly mind.

The team’s goal is to reach Antigua in first place and in doing so, raise over £100,000 for the Royal Navy & Royal Marines Charity. Next year will mark 50 years of unbroken service in maintaining Continuous At Sea Deterrence (CASD) and this will be one of many events to recognise the human endeavour and commitment necessary to sustain this vital operation.

Photo Credit Andrew Parish – AJP Media

The Crew

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More can be heard from the crew below

To provide some perspective, given many would feel those working in the secret world of submarine warfare, their regular “home” is pure luxury when compared to their ocean going rowing boat. Below has a taster of the sheer difference in size, luxuries and power.

HMS OARDACIOUS – Rannoch R45 Ocean Rowing Boat

Length: 28.5ft – Beam: 5.71ft – Displacement: 2072.34lbs Berths: 2x6ft Berths – Toilets: 1 bucket

Propulsion: 4 Royal Navy Submariners

Atlantic Crossing Record: 29 Days 14 Hours 34 Minutes


HMS AUDACIOUS – Astute Class Hunter-Killer Submarine

Length: 318ft – Beam: 37ft – Displacement: ~7000 tons Berths: Up to 109 – Toilets: 7 (+1 Urinal)

Propulsion: 1 x Rolls Royce Pressurised Water Reactor


Crossing Record: Classified

Now, if you are as intrigued as I was when I first learned of their expedition, they will be attending shows and other events this year, to raise awareness and importantly money for the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity.

Dates include

  • 31 July – 6 Aug 2019: Expedition row from HMNB Clyde – We will be taking the boat for its first training expedition for 5 days around various Scottish lochs to get used to the boat, being on the water.
  • Yeovilton Air day: Expo with our Charity at the Military show 13 Jul 19
  • Dartmouth Regatta: showcasing the boat and invitation whaler race 29 Aug-1 Sep 19
  • Southampton boat show: 13-22 Sept 19
  • Corporate partners Charity Gala/dinner: 4 Oct 2019 Greenwich Naval College Painted hall

So a huge feat of endurance, a great cause and as we are from a country with one of the longest maritime traditions in the world, due in part to being on an island, one that I hope many will find of interest.

I’m hoping to meet up with Hugo and the team and follow their training before they set off on an epic adventure.

If you want to find out more about the team and HMD Oardacious – Click HERE.

For more information on the Royal Navy & Royal Marines Charity – Click HERE.

For more information on the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge – Click HERE.