Naval uncle and niece are the nuclear family
SPENDING months at a time beneath the waves makes family moments more cherished.
The secretive nature of a Royal Navy submariner's work means contact with the outside world when on patrol is minimal.
So, for an uncle and niece from Hull to be reunited on board a Navy nuclear submarine was something quite special.
Paul Blythe and Jade Fishburn had the opportunity to serve together on one of the Navy's four Vanguard Class ballistic missile submarines.
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Jade, a trainee naval nurse, was reunited with Paul, commanding officer of HMS Vanguard, when she spent time onboard the vessel to gain an insight into the life and work of Vanguard's medical team.
Jade, 20, who joined the Navy in May last year after studying at Hull College, said: "It has been weird seeing him revered as the captain. To me, he is still uncle Paul.
"I had been spending time working at the Naval base's medical centre at Faslane, in Scotland, when the chance arose for a placement on board one of the submarines.
"Initially, I was quite intimidated by the idea and wasn't sure how the crew would react to having a woman around, but it was too good an opportunity to miss. They have been really friendly and enjoyed showing me around."
The submarine, based at HM Naval Base Clyde in Scotland is a 16,000 tonne nuclear-powered vessel.
It disappears for months at a time beneath the waves, helping to maintain the country's continuous at-sea deterrent, without surfacing with virtually no contact with the world above.
Paul, of Garden Village, east Hull, said having Jade onboard has been fantastic.
"Spending months under the sea without much contact with the outside world or your family is tough and something that take a lot of getting used to," he said.
"So, having Jade on board has been a welcome addition for me and something that has been great for both of us in different respects."
Although Jade did not join the submarine during a patrol, she spent time working alongside Vanguard's doctor and medics in their sickbay while the vessel was in a maintenance stage.
"It has given me an insight into the tough conditions submariners have to work in, and the additional problems this can create," said Jade.
Until next year the Royal Navy Submarine Service remains an all-male workplace.
Women were previously excluded from serving on submarines on health and safety grounds, however, that all changed with the latest medical research from the Institute of Naval Medicine.
Female officers are due to serve on Vanguard Class submarines from late 2013, followed by ratings in 2015.
Jade spent two weeks on board the submarine but Paul, 44, is into his 25th year with the Navy and has served in four different classes of submarines.
Paul has also served on HMS Turbulence during the Cold War and HMS Victorious.
HMS Vanguard is Paul's second command, following on from HMS Vengeance in 2010, but this was the first time he has served with a relative.