Association History

The Anti-Submarine Warfare Association

By Paul Hitchcock (Ex WO (S) (TASI)),  Bob Burton webmaster (updated June 2023)

The Anti-Submarine Warfare Association was originally formed and known as the Torpedo and Anti-Submarine Warfare Instructors Association (TASI) in 1955, with its membership open to all ratings that had specifically qualified as a TAS Instructor (T.A.S.I.’s). As the branch evolved, so it became necessary for the association to evolve and in 1975, the name was changed to the Anti-Submarine Warfare Instructors Association (A.S.W.I.’s) to reflect the changes brought about by the introduction of the Operations Branch in 1974. Membership was now extended to include all Senior Rates of the Sonar and Mine Warfare sub-branches (A.S.W.I.’s) in addition to the existing TAS Instructors (T.A.S.I.’s). To keep pace with the ever-changing ASW role in today’s modern navy, the name was changed again in 2019 to its current name (the ASW Association), with membership now open to all rates that have been trained in sonar across all branches of the RN.
The Torpedo Branch was officially formed in 1876, the Anti Submarine Branch was not formed until 1920, 6 years after the introduction of the hydrophone, a device used to listen to underwater sounds. ASDIC (Allied Submarine Detection Investigation Committee) as it was originally known, was used extensively during WWII as the primary means to detect underwater targets (Submarines). Not only used as a detection aid, ASDIC also provided the fire control data in order to sink and destroy the German U-boat by using "Depth Charges".

The maintenance, repair, preparation and firing of underwater weapons and torpedoes were originally carried out by ratings of the Torpedo Branch who also looked after the ships Electric’s. Men of the Submarine Detector Branch (SD’s) undertook ASDIC operation. In June 1946 both branches amalgamated to become the Torpedo and Anti Submarine Branch whilst at the same time the Electrical Branch was formed at HMS COLLINGWOOD at Fareham.

With the formation of the new TAS Branch, instructors from both persuasions, TI’s and SDI’s amalgamated to become TASI’s and on the 11th December 1954 a meeting was held in HMS VERNON to discuss the possibility of forming a TASI’s Association. As a result, a working committee was formed and on the 22 January 1955 a General Meeting of TASI’s approved the Associations Charter, which in turn was endorsed by the then Captain of HMS VERNON Captain John Grant Royal Navy. Finally it was given the blessing of Admiral Sir George Creasy G.C.B, C.B.E., D.S.O., M.V.O.

The Chairman at this time was C.P.O. Gerry Abery who worked hard to get the Association off on a "sound" footing, and to promote the Association motto Esprit de Corps among its members. With the help of an energetic committee, an enrollment campaign began, meetings were started and outings organised. A representative from HMS Osprey was recruited and support flourished.

To promote professional advice and to advertise the associations business and social activities a magazine was published and although at times difficult to produce, the Seamaster, initially called the Journal, continued to reach the membership up until the launch of the ASWI Website.

The Associations Headquarters remained in HMS VERNON up until 1975. The TASI Club was situated behind the VERNON Main Gate and was a popular meeting place for social activity, which included a fund, raising TASI’s Tote.

With the introduction of the Operations Branch in 1974, the Associations name was changed at a Special General Meeting, to reflect the omission of the TASI in the new Operations Branch structure. This was a rocky time for the committee as many TASI’s thought they had been betrayed and their status had been undermined. However the Association survived the storm and the Anti Submarine Instructor Association (A.S.W.I.’s) 1975 assumed the status quo.

In 1985 the U Faculty moved to HMS DRYAD Southwick, home for the newly formed School of Maritime Operations, (SMOPS). The Associations Clubhouse was closed down and hopes to re-locate in DRYAD were thwarted. Attempts to share with the PRI’s were unsuccessful, although use of the club for meetings and functions were agreed. A Portacabin was procured in 1985, however it was no substitute for a proper club and its function became primarily an ASUAT Staff coffee boat / rest room. It wasn’t until December 1998 that a co-operation document between the A.S.W.I.'s and P.R.I.’s was endorsed by the then Associations President Commodore Hance ADC which gave the Association a share in the PRI Club House including a part of the committee but not the bar or gaming machine profit. The shared use of the club allowed the display of Association memorabilia set aside in the meeting room.

The move of the MWS to HMS COLLINGWOOD in 2004 created more changes to the Association Administration and although a room was set aside for both the A.S.W.I.’s and P.R.I.’s in the WO & SRs Mess only the P.R.I.’s Association was accommodated.  This dilemma along with the fragmentation of the committee between Portsmouth and Devonport left the association with no stable base in which to operate. Although the Associations  HQ was based in the GI Club in Whale Island. Social events usually took place in Portsmouth and Plymouth on a regular basis.  If you wish to host an event in your area let bob know

In 2013 it was agreed that with the changing face of the Under Water warfare branch that membership of the association be opened up to Leading Seaman (UW) this was passed with a majority decission.  At the same time it was also agreed to include Aircrewman (ASW) as well as submariner senior rates. Also it was agreed that the ASWI Association would take the newly formed ASW association under its wing, this was thought to be a good way of gaining members in the future. 

At the 2016 AGM The Chairman proposed that the ASW Association joined with the ASWI association.  The reason for this was the decline in UW Senior rates and the changing structure of the UW branch.  The proposal was sent to all paid up members from both associations and it was agreed by a majority vote from both associations.

At the 2018 AGM it was proposed that a vote should be taken regarding the name of the association (after 44 years) the vote was conducted and it was anounced on 3rd February 2019  a majority of paid up members and the name to change to the ASW Association. 

In January 2021 (during Covid) it was agreed that the association would fund a weekly quiz and dit session - this initially occurred every Saturday but now takes place every other Wednesday with the dates, times and a link for each session promulgated in the association’s Facebook group page.

To celebrate the Association’s formation, a reunion is held annually (normally in September) in the form of an ASW Weekend including a formal dinner which is preceded during the day by an Annual General Meeting.

The primary aim of the Association remains to promote Esprit de Corps among its members in order to help and advise them, professionally on all matters concerning anti-submarine warfare. The Association also encourages its members to broaden their social pastimes by holding regular meetings and social events. This includes the promotion of charitable activities and support to deserving causes.

 For further information and membership application contact:    (if you would like a free beer then call Bob 07584421002)


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