Items from The News of Portsmouth and Navy News are reproduced by kind permission of David Brown and Sarah Fletcher respectively.  Click on the thumbnails to enlarge them.


29 Sep 08

 

SDU2 blows wartime mine off Sheerness

 

The BBC News website contains this article, featuring CPO(D) Sid Lawrence, which describes the disposal yesterday of a German WWII 'GC' mine off Sheerness by Southern Diving Unit 2 (SDU2).  The Portsmouth News website contains this article and the Sheerness Times Guardian website contains this article about the same incident.  The Navy News website contains this article including the photo shown below.

 

Mine blown off Sheerness by SDU2

Mine blown off Sheerness by SDU2

(Navy News photo by CPO(D) Sid Lawrence)

 


HMS Ledbury on NATO Exercises in Mediterranean

 

The RN website contains this article describing the continuing deployment of HMS Ledbury in the Mediterranean with Standing NATO MCM Group 1 (SNMCMG1) under the Command of MCDOA member Chris Davies embarked in HMS Roebuck.

 

FGS Homberg and HMS Roebuck manoeuvre close to HMS Ledbury in a recent navigation exercise

FGS Homberg and HMS Roebuck manoeuvre close to

HMS Ledbury in a recent navigation exercise

(RN website photo)

 


26 Sep 08 - John Beavis in Cancer Run

 

MCDOA member John Beavis, who has been on exchange with the Canadian Navy at the Defence Research and Development Centre (DRDC - formerly DCIEM) in Toronto for the past two and a bit years, informs me that he and his wife are competing in the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon on 28 September to raise money for the Against Breast Cancer charity.

 

You can sponsor John via his page on the Just Giving website here.

 


Post Race feedback from John Beavis on 1 Oct 08

 

"Hi all,

 

Just a brief e-mail to say a big THANK YOU for your generous donations; it was greatly appreciated!   All completed in 1:36, so pretty respectable all in all and am now nursing the blisters!

 

Thanks again and due to your help we've raised £205.00 for Against Breast Cancer.

 

John and the team"

 


25 Sep 08 - New Personal Updates

 

The Members Only area contains updates with photos from MCDOA past-Chairman Chris Ameye and MCDOA past-Treasurer Dave 'Spidey' Ince who transferred to the Royal Australian Navy in November 2006.  They have just renewed acquaintance with each other in Afghanistan.

 

MCDOA members Dave Ince and Chris Ameye in Afghanistan

"Haven't we met before?" - MCDOA members

Dave Ince and Chris Ameye in Afghanistan

 


24 Sep 08 - HMS Brocklesby in Maintenance Period

 

The RN website contains this article describing activities on board HMS Brocklesby since summer leave.  Several members of her MW Department feature in her photo gallery here.

 


23 Sep 08

 

RN EOD Team destroys object on Chesil Beach

 

The following links provide news and pictures of the disposal of an explosive object on Chesil Beach in Dorset this morning by a Royal Navy EOD team, presumably SDU1:

 

BBC News website

 

BBC News website

 

Dorset Echo website

 

Dorset Echo website

 


News of HMS Blyth

 

The RN website contains this article about the activities of HMS Blyth as she approaches the end of her time in the Gulf.

 

HMS Atherstone and HMS Blyth in Umm Qasr

HMS Blyth (foreground) and HMS Atherstone

in Umm Qasr, Iraq earlier this month

(RN website photo)

 


21 Sep 08 - Annual Minewarfare Association Reunion

 

Well done to Taff Reader, Pete Mills and all the other organisers of the Minewarfare Association's Annual Reunion in HMS Collingwood last night.  Here is a selection of photos of some of the attendees:

 

Dixie Dean with Bob 'Mitch' Mitchell     Slinger Wood, Ed Smith and Dick Barton

Left: Dixie Dean with Bob 'Mitch' Mitchell

Right: Slinger Wood, Ed Smith and Dick Barton

 

Gary Abnettt and Pete Mills

Gary Abnett with Pete Mills

 

Steve Downey with Ian 'Herman' Gearing     Benny Bennion and Steve Doyle

Left: Steve Downey with Ian 'Herman' Gearing

Right: Benny Bennion and Steve Doyle

 

Polly Porter & Nat Coles     Taff Reader, Pawl Stockley and Jim Hawkins

Left: Polly Porter and Nat Coles

Right: Taff Reader, Pawl Stockley and Jim Hawkins

 

A welcoming speech was given by MW Association Chairman Pete Mills.

 

Pete Mills

MW Association Chairman Pete Mills

 

The gang     More of the gang

Assembled MW Association Reunion attendees

 

Among the other highlights was Steve Harvey's presentation of a whisky decanter set (including silver mine stopper) to Pawl Stockley who will be leaving the RN next April.

 

Nat Coles presents decanter set to Pawl Stockley

Nat Coles presents decanter set to Pawl Stockley

 

Pawl Stockley with his decanter set

Pawl Stockley with his retirement decanter set

 

Don't forget that the embryonic RN Minewarfare Association is open to MW specialists of all ranks, including MWOs and MCDOs.  Membership applications can be downloaded from its website here.

 


19 Sep 08 - Prospective sculptors of Project Vernon Statue given acquaint

 

Yesterday, the three sculptors short-listed to create the statue in Gunwharf Quays to commemorate the Minewarfare and Diving heritage of HMS Vernon attended a familiarisation day in the Portsmouth area.  The aim was to provide each sculptor with sufficient background information to produce a maquette (miniature) of a statue of a mine with a clearance diver to enable us to select a single design for the full-scale version.  For further information, see the Project Vernon website.

 

Conceptual design for Project Vernon statue

Conceptual design for

Project VERNON statue

 

After assembling at Gunwharf Quays for an introductory brief by the Project Manager, MCDOA member David Carey, the sculptors and their companions were accompanied to the Mine Warfare Operational Training Centre (MWOTC) at HMS Collingwood where MCDOA member Ian Berry gave a presentation about RN minewarfare before a tour of the mining deck.  As well as David Carey and Ian Berry, those present included Rob Hoole and Tony Griffiths representing the MCDOA, serving WO(MW) Cris Applegarth and retired WO(MW) Dixie Dean representing the RN Mine Warfare Association and serving WO(D) Andy Carss and retired CD Mike Handford  representing the Association of RN First Class Divers.  MW Association members WO(MW) Nat Coles and CPO(MW) Taff Reader of MWOTC were also present for at least some of the visit.

 

Vernon Statue sculptors at MWOTC      Vernon Statue sculptors at MWOTC

 

Above and below: Project Vernon statue sculptors and hosts at MWOTC

 

Vernon Statue sculptors at MWOTC     Vernon Statue sculptors at MWOTC

 

WO(D) Andy Carss and WO(MW) Cris Applegarth

CD Branch Champion WO(D) Andy Carss with

MW Branch Champion WO(MW) Cris Applegarth

 

We then returned to Gunwharf Quays where we were joined by MCDOA member Frank Ward, artist John Terry of Fleet Graphics, and ex-RN Gunwharf Quays Operations Manager Sean Sweeney MBE to show the sculptors possible locations for the statue.

 

Gunwharf Quays Operations Manager Sean Sweeney MBE briefs sculpto    Gunwharf Quays Operations Manager Sean Sweeney MBE briefs sculpto

Gunwharf Quays Operations Manager Sean Sweeney MBE briefs sculptors

 

After lunch in the adjacent Café Rouge, we took the sculptors to Fleet Diving Headquarters at Horsea Island to show them examples of appropriate diving dress and equipment before dispersing our separate ways.  I'd like to thank everyone who made our day possible.

 


16 Sep 08 - HMS Ledbury Exercises off the French Coast

 

The RN website contains this article describing the involvement of HMS Ledbury in a major MCM exercise off the south coast of France.

 

FGS Homberg closes HMS Ledbury to pass tow

(RN website photo)

 


14 Sep 08 - Quick update on Russian Sea Mines

 

Retired members wishing to refresh their knowledge of Former Soviet Union (FSU) sea mines might find this article on the Russian Gidropribor Central Research Institute's website of interest.

 


13 Sep 08 - News from HMS Ramsey

 

I am grateful to Lt Marc Taylor RN, the Navigating Officer of HMS Ramsey, for forwarding this update:

 

"As part of Operation Aintree, the new Ship’s Company of HMS RAMSEY flew out to Bahrain at the beginning of July to conduct a swap with the outgoing team who will take over HMS SHOREHAM in the UK after some well deserved leave.

 

For many of the fresh faces it was a culture shock, leaving behind a gloomy Faslane and stepping out into a raging sun and 45 degree heat.  After having a few days to acclimatise to their new surroundings, RAMSEY was out to sea with the Ship’s Company putting their new platform to the test.  RAMSEY had to hit the ground running since it wouldn’t be long before the team from the Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST) organisation would make the trip out to Bahrain to assess her Operational Capability.

 

RAMSEY spent several days at sea exercising all of her capabilities including the use of her remote controlled mine hunting vehicles, Mk 44 Mini Guns and Mine Clearance Divers.  Time was also allocated to safety drills such as man over board and damage control exercises.  Operating with another Sandown class vessel, HMS BLYTH, the opportunity was also taken to undertake manoeuvres in close company.

 

HMS Ramsey in Bahrain     HMS Ramsey in Bahrain

HMS Ramsey in Bahrain

 

As part of the Coalition Forces in the Gulf region, RAMSEY is primarily tasked with Mine Countermeasure operations, which includes ensuring commercial sea lanes remain open.  RAMSEY also assists in counter terrorism operations, helping to promote stability in the Gulf.  The Commanding Officer of HMS RAMSEY, Lt Cdr Nick Borbone RN, commented:

 

“It was sad to say goodbye to HMS SHOREHAM, however we are now in an environment that will fully test our capability and we are making an important contribution to regional operations."

 

After successfully completing her FOST Assurance Visit, RAMSEY is now available to the operational commander for tasking.  HMS RAMSEY left the UK in November 2006 as part of Operation Aintree and is due to return to the UK at the end of 2008."

 


12 Sep 08

 

HMS Cattistock in Falmouth for start of Tall Ships Race

 

Today's Portsmouth News contains this article describing the participation of HMS Cattistock in the Regatta at Falmouth this week to celebrate the start of the Funchal 500 Tall Ships Race.  Tomorrow, Cattistock will accompany the sailing ships from Falmouth, across the Bay of Biscay to Ilhavo (Port of Aveiro) in Portugal, on the first leg of their race to Madeira.

 

HMS Cattistock in the turn

HMS Cattistock in the turn

(RN website photo)

 


RN Diving Heritage

 

At the annual RN Divers' Reunion held last June, I was privileged to sit and chat with Ray 'Brum' Maries BEM, a venerated member of the Association of RN First Class Divers (AORNFCD).

 

Rob Hoole and Ray 'Brum' Maries BEM

Rob Hoole and Ray 'Brum' Maries BEM

 

Ray was awarded a Mention in Despatches and the British Empire Medal for his exemplary service with Naval Party 1572 ('P' or 'Port Clearance' Party 1572) during operations to clear explosive ordnance, including booby traps, from ports, harbours and anchorages as the Allies advanced through Europe after the invasion of Normandy.  The 'P' Parties were the immediate fore-runners of the Royal Navy's Clearance Diving branch.  At the end of the evening, Ray passed me some copies of photos showing divers being dressed during training at HMS Vernon(D) based at Brixham between October 1944 and October 1945.  The 'D' signified the unit's accounting base at Dartmouth. 

 

Initially, 'P' Parties were equipped with the 'P-party Mk I Suit' which embodied the infamous Sladen suit developed for human torpedo 'charioteers', otherwise known as 'Clammy Death' owing to its ability to pinch delicate parts of the body when under pressure.  The suit was entered via the loose folds of an aperture in the front which were then folded concertina-like and clamped.  It was used in combination with an enlarged derivative of the Davis Submerged Escape Apparatus (DSEA), a closed-circuit breathing system using pure oxygen. 

 

'P' Party trainee being dressed in Shallow Water Diving Suit          'P' Party trainee being dressed in Shallow Water Diving Suit

Trainee being dressed in Sladen 'Clammy Death' diving suit

 

However, the thin Sladen suit was deemed too flimsy for arduous clearance work and DSEA was unsuitable for diving in depths greater than 30 feet.  Consequently, 'P' Parties tended to use Siebe Gorman's 'Shallow Water Diving Suit' which incorporated the Admiralty Neck Salvus (ANS) Self-Contained Diving Apparatus using a closed-circuit enriched oxy-nitrogen mixture.  This photo shows a trainee being dressed in what I believe to be a 'Shallow Water Diving Suit'. 

 

'P' Party trainee being dressed in Shallow Water Diving Suit

'P' Party trainee being dressed in Shallow Water Diving Suit at HMS Vernon(D)

(Courtesy of Ray 'Brum' Maries BEM)

 

Eventually, 'P' Parties were equipped with the 'P-party Mark II Suit' which was more durable and incorporated a modification of the existing Salvus apparatus.  This was the first truly successful attempt to use mixture breathing in a closed circuit.  The following illustration from Deep Diving and Submarine Operations by Sir Robert H. Davies depicts all three types of diving suit worn by 'P' parties.

 

Diving suits used by 'P' Parties

Diving suits used by 'P' Parties

 

This sequence of photos shows a trainee being dressed in Siebe Gorman's 'Mine Recovery Suit' (MRS), a completely non-magnetic two-piece self-contained helmet suit which was developed earlier in the war and used a 45/55 oxy-nitrogen mixture.  The MRS was generally worn by the Officer-in-Charge of the relevant 'P' Party to render safe any ordnance found by members of the team during their search.

 

'P' Party trainee being dressed in MRS      'P' Party trainee being dressed in MRS     'P' Party trainee being dressed in RMS

'P' Party trainee being dressed in Mine Recovery Suit (MRS) at HMS Vernon(D)

(Courtesy of Ray 'Brum' Maries BEM)

 

'P' Party trainee in MRS at HMS Vernon(D)

'P' Party trainee in MRS

(Courtesy of David Shane)

 

This illustration from Deep Diving and Submarine Operations by Sir Robert H. Davies depicts a diver in MRS going about his hazardous work: 

 

Diver in Mine Recovery Suit (MRS)

Diver in Mine Recovery Suit (MRS)

 

This photo from my archives shows Lt Cdr George Gosse GC RANVR, OIC of 'P' Party 1571 in MRS after rendering safe one of several German 'Oyster' pressure mines in Bremen docks in May 1945.

 

Lt Cdr George Gosse GC RANVR in MRS

Lt Cdr George Gosse GC RANVR in MRS

 

This illustration from Deep Diving and Submarine Operations by Sir Robert H Davies depicts 'P' Party members performing their various tasks:

 

'P' Party members at work

'P' Party members at work 

 

Thank you for the photos Ray.  I hope to renew our acquaintance at next year's reunion.

 


11 Sep 08 - Project VERNON Update

 

Conceptual design for Project VERNON statue

Project VERNON Statue

(Conceptual Design)

 

During the past few weeks there has been a flurry of activity involving the project to erect a statue in Gunwharf Quays commemorating the Minewarfare and Diving Heritage of HMS Vernon.  Thirteen leading sculptors expressed an interest in producing the statue and a committee comprising members of the MCDOA, the Minewarfare Association and the Association of RN First Class Divers (AORNFCD) has selected three of them to produce 'maquettes' (miniatures) of their proposed designs.

 

Action is currently being taken to establish the project as a charity with members of the above organisations as trustees.  When this has been achieved, fund-raising will begin in earnest.  Much credit is due to MCDOA member Dave Carey, the Project Manager, for his hard work behind the scenes and meticulous attention to detail.

 

For further information about progress, look at the latest Blog entry on the Project VERNON's website at http://vernon-monument.org.  Why not pledge a donation or offer other support while you're there?

 


10 Sep 08 - RN Minewarfare & Diving Heritage

 

In April I published an article about the death of ex-CD Derek 'Dan' Neave including his service with the clearance diving team attached to the 51st Minesweeper Flotilla (51st MSF) c.1956 (see entry for 22 Apr 08 in News Archive 22).  This team was normally embarked in HMS Brenchley.

 

HMS Brenchley

HMS Brenchley

(TCA photo)

 

Former FCPO(D) Dave 'Mona' Lott in Australia has also drawn my attention to the 50th MSF's diving team embarked in HMS Diver around the same time and has provided this photo:

 

50th MSF Diving Team (normally embarked in HMS Diver)

50th MSF Diving Team

(normally embarked in HMS Diver)

 

When I eventually asked Mona to identify the individuals shown, he sent this reply:

 

"G'day Rob,

 

When I looked at the date of the original sending I decided that you should get 10 out of 10 for determination.  Left to right are:

Apart from Grant, all were CD's from the 50th Unit based at Queensferry on board HMS Diver although Dave Lardner was on loan from HMS Lochinvar.  I guess the 51st and the members of their diving team onboard HMS Brenchley (including myself) are just out of the photo, and round the headland underwater and working as usual, as opposed to posing for happy snaps...(LOL)

 

P.S.  They didn't actually dive as their proto canisters were empty; not that they would have noticed any difference!  I shall also forward to Bob Adam so in view of my above remarks we may get a rapid, possibly heated reply.  Mind you any form of warmth was welcome in those days of just wearing thin blue undersuits under the rubber bag...

 

Dave (Mona) still in Eden NSW"

 

Although 'Uncle Bill' Filer hung up his fins long ago, he remains a stalwart member of the MCDOA and celebrated his 91st birthday last month.  He can be found on his favourite bar stool at the Lee-on-the-Solent Tennis Club most lunchtimes.

 

HMS Diver

HMS Diver

(TCA photo) 

 

At various times, the 50th MSF included the Ley Class inshore minehunters (each fitted with Multiple Towed Gradiometer (MTG)) HMS Brearley (1957-60), HMS Brinkley (1956-60) and HMS Burley (1955-56).  It also included the Ham Class inshore minesweepers HMS Chillingham (1957-58), HMS Inglesham (1954-58), HMS Reedham (1959) and HMS Yaxham (1959-62) and the Ton Class minesweepers HMS Boulston (1956-57), HMS Clarbeston (1962-62), HMS Glasserton (1955-62), HMS Highburton (1958-62), HMS Shoulton (1960-62) and HMS Sullington (1955-56).

 

The 50th MSF was based at Port Edgar on the Firth of Forth from 1955.  In 1958 it moved to Portland where it was renamed the 50th Minesweeping Squadron before becoming the 3rd Minesweeping Squadron (3rd MSS) on 1 October 1962.  In 1966, this became the 3rd Mine Countermeasures Squadron (3rd MCMS).

 

In the meantime, the 51st MSF remained at Port Edgar and was renamed the 51st MSS in 1958.  On 1 October 1962, it was renamed the 1st Minehunting Squadron (1st MHS) comprising HMS Shoulton, HMS Bronington, HMS Brinkley and HMS Brenchley.  On 1 January 1966, this squadron combined with the 2nd and 5th (Vernon) Minesweeping Squadrons to form the 1st Mine Countermeasures Squadron (1st MCMS).

 


9 Sep 09 - HMS Atherstone and HMS Blyth make history

 

Todays Portsmouth News contains this article describing how Portsmouth-based HMS Atherstone, accompanied by Faslane-based HMS Blyth, have made history by becoming the first RN ships to enter an Iraqi port since the invasion of 2003.

 

HMS Blyth and HMS Atherstone arriving in Umm Qasr

HMS Blyth and HMS Atherstone arriving in Umm Qasr

(RN website photo)

 


5 Sep 08

 

Remembrance Service for Lt Cdr Ian Fraser VC DSC RD* RNR

 

The remembrance service for Ian Fraser (see entry for 2 Sep 08) will be at St James Church, Victoria Road, New Brighton, Wallasey at 1500 on Thursday 11 September.  Follow M53 signs for New Brighton Station and the church is close by.  Rig of the day will be blazer and slacks or suit and medals.  Submariners will muster at 1445.  All are then cordially invited back to the Grove Hotel, Grove Road, Wallasey for a reception and drinks.  This is ten minutes from the church and is quite easily reached.

 


From MCDOA member John Grattan:

 

"Dear Rob,

 

Unfortunately I will not be able to attend Ian's funeral as I will be abroad.  He and I met at the 1958 Divers' dinner which was also attended by Peter Roberts, another V.C. holder.  I saw much of Ian whilst driving HMS Dingley and the HSCDT [Home Station Clearance Diving Team] because he came down to Vernon on many occasions.  In fact he tried to persuade Stuart Honour and me to leave the RN and join his company in Liverpool; but we were having so much fun at that time that we did not give it much consideration.  Years later ['76 to'78] he and I were on the AODC [Association of Offshore Diving Contractors] Safety committee and we wrote much of the offshore safety legislation.  He was a wonderful colleague with a crystal clear mind and great fun to be with.

 

Peter Roberts taught me to drive the only chariot then in existence, based at Horsea - great fun and a hell of an experience.  Furthermore neither of us were much good at driving the submersible canoes also based at Horsea.  I wonder what happened to all that kit.  Is it any wonder that we were so very proud to join a Branch with such eminent members at that time?

 

Happy days and wonderful memories.

 

Yours,

 

John"

 


HMS Blyth and HMS Atherstone visit Iraq and HMS Pembroke completes refit at Rosyth

 

The RN website contains this article about the arrival of HMS Blyth and HMS Atherstone in the port of Umm Qasr in Iraq, the first visits by RN ships since 2003.  It also contains this article about the return to sea of HMS Pembroke following her refit at Rosyth.

 


HMS Penzance visits Penzance this weekend

 

The Navy News website contains this article announcing a visit to Penzance by HMS Penzance this weekend.  She will be open to the public at West Dock on Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 September from 1000 to 1400.  Admission is free.

 

HMS Penzance

HMS Penzance

(Navy News photo)

 


3 Sep 08 - HMS Ledbury update

 

The RN website contains this article describing the operations of HMS Ledbury off La Spezia in Italy with her fellow members of Standing NATO MCM Group 1 (SNMCMG1).

 

HMS Ledbury's fellow members of SNMCMG1

HMS Ledbury's fellow members of SNMCMG1

(RN website photo)

 


2 Sep 08 - Death of Lt Cdr Ian Fraser VC DSC RD* RNR

 

The Daily Telegraph website contains this obituary for submariner and diver Lt Cdr Ian Fraser RNR who died on Monday aged 87.  He was the last surviving RN holder of the Victoria Cross, awarded for navigating the midget submarine XE-3 into the heart of Singapore harbour on 31 July 1945 and attacking the 10,000 ton Japanese cruiser Takao.  LS James Magennis, his diver, was decorated with the VC for the same mission.  After planting three limpet mines at each end of the Takao, Magennis had to exit the submarine again to free one of its two-ton side charges, timers already ticking, which had only partially released and prevented the craft from moving.

 

XE Craft exercising on the surface in Sydney Harbour

XE Craft exercising on the surface

in Sydney Harbour

 

Immediately after the war, Ian Fraser recruited fellow divers to form his own 'Frogman show' which performed at various venues around the country.

 

Ian Fraser's Frogmen Show     Divers in 20,000 gallon tank at Belle Vue

Left: Ian Fraser's Frogmen Show

Right: Divers in 20,000 gallon tank at Belle Vue, Manchester

 

Ian Fraser adjusts his noseclip

Ian Fraser adjusts his noseclip

 

In 1965 Ian Fraser formed Universal Divers and North Sea Diving Services and expanded into seabed exploration and the maintenance of North Sea oil and gas rigs.  After selling out to the Blue Star Line in 1975 he continued to serve with Star Offshore Services Marine Ltd until 1982.  He entitled his memoirs Frogman VC and I have a copy on my bookshelf.  I was invited to comment on BBC Radio 4's PM programme today and a recording of my interview can be heard here.  I regret the sound quality is less than perfect owing to the need to compress the file for use on the website.

 

Lt Cdr Ian Fraser VC DSC RD* RNR

Lt Cdr Ian Fraser VC DSC RD* RNR

(18 Dec 1920 - 1 Sep 2008)

 


1 Sep 08 - Navy News items

The September issue of Navy News contains the following MCD-related items:

The Blyth Spirit        

 


28 Aug 08 - HMS Atherstone update

 

The RN website contains this article describing the latest activities of HMS Atherstone in the Gulf.

 

Atherstone's AB(MW) Monk on duty

Atherstone's AB(MW) Monk on duty

(RN website photo)

 


26 Aug 08 - HMS Vernon Heritage

 

I am most grateful to MCDOA associate member Gavin Anthony for providing this image of members of HMS Vernon's wardroom mess on its closure in March 1986.  It contains many familiar figures, including some illustrious MCDOA members, but I won't attempt to name them all here.

 

HMS Vernon Wardroom Mess members on closure March 1986

HMS Vernon Wardroom Mess members on closure March 1986

 


24 Aug 08 - Diving knives

 

Can any spotters help with this request?

 

"Hi,

 

I have been collecting diving knives for a few years now and was hoping someone in your organisation would be able to help me identify the material used to make the Siebe Gorman non-magnetic diving knife blades.  I have attached a photo of my Admiralty Pattern SG knife with two other clearance diver's knives, also another photo of a few other diving knives from my collection.

 

Best wishes,

 

John Wilkins"

 

John Wilkins' clearance diving knives     John Wilkins' diving knife collection

Left: John Wilkins' clearance diving knives

Right: John Wilkins' diving knife collection

 

If anyone can help with John's enquiry, please e-mail me via my webmaster address.  My own collection of diving knives, courtesy of the 1983B LMCDO course staff & students and MCDOA member Dan Nicholson respectively, is much more modest and awaits the establishment of a permanent RN Diving Museum by a wealthy philanthropist.  Any offers?

 

Hoole's diving knife collection

Hoole's diving knife collection

 


22 Aug 08 - HMS Ledbury update

 

The RN website contains this article describing the progress of HMS Ledbury through the Mediterranean with NATO Standing MCM Group 1 (SNMCMG1) commanded by MCDOA member Chris Davies.  Fellow MCDOA member John Staveley, who has worked for several years at the NATO Undersea Research Centre (NURC) in La Spezia, tells me he is much looking forward to welcoming Chris and his group.

 

AB(MW) Kieron Putt fires Ledbury's port Mk 44 MiniGun during a gunnery serial off Corsica

AB(MW) Kieron Putt fires Ledbury's port Mk 44 MiniGun

during a gunnery serial off Corsica

(RN website photo)

 


20 Aug 08 - HMS Blyth update

 

The RN website contains this article describing how the ship's company of HMS Blyth has been exchanged with that of HMS Walney in Bahrain.

 

LS(D) Des Haman talks Bahrain Defence Force personnel through Specials on Blyth's forecastle    Clearance Diver surveys Blyth's Voith-Schneider propulsors

Left: LS(D) Des Haman talks Bahrain Defence Force personnel through Specials on Blyth's forecastle

Right: Clearance Diver surveys Blyth's Voith-Schneider propulsors

(RN website photos)

 


18 Aug 08 - Help needed with Study of Diver Hazards and Risks

 

MCDOA associate member Gavin Anthony of QinetiQ has sent me this request for help with an important study for the Health & Safety Executive:

 

"Rob,

 

If possible I would be grateful if you could assist me with the project below by publishing this and requesting responses to me and/or Arran Fisher as per the attached.

 

Regards,

 

Gavin"

 

Study of hazards and risks associated with localised differential pressure

 

QinetiQ are conducting a study for the United Kingdom (UK) Health and Safety Executive (HSE), (a non-profit governmental organisation), on localised differential pressure hazards in the diving industry.   We are looking at all possible sources of information that may be able to contribute to this study.  Accordingly we would be most grateful if you could read the attached proposal and hope you will be able to contribute.   Please feel free to copy and disseminate this request to any party you feel may be able to assist.

 

Please take a look at the proposal and provide Gavin and Arran with any information that might help reduce such accidents to divers in future.

 


15 Aug 08   Death of Roy Evan Rees

 

I have received this notification of the death of former RN Diver Roy Rees:

 

"Dear Sirs,

 

Some sad news that may be of interest to those of your members with links to HMS Reclaim.   Roy Evan Rees passed away in the early hours of the 28th of July 2008.  Roy was a 'full career' diver with the RN and among many other things served on board HMS Reclaim during the time of Lt Wookey's world record dive to 600 ft in 1956.  Indeed, this image on your website shows Roy on the right of the picture (see 'HMS Reclaim - A World Record Breaker' in the website's Dit Box):

 

Roy Rees (right) helping to dress the late MCDOA member George Wookey for his 600 ft World Record Dive

Roy Rees (right) helping to dress the late MCDOA member

George Wookey for his 600 ft World Record Dive

 

His family were present at his bedside and he will be much missed by them.  Roy was my sister's father-in-law.

 

Kind regards,

 

Clark Christie"

 

I have passed Clark our condolences.  People like Roy Rees helped enrich the heritage of our branch when RN diving achievements were the envy of the world.

 


From ex-FCPO(D) Dave 'Mona' Lott in Australia:

 

"G'day Rob,

 

I would like to pass on the sincere condolences of both Les Maynard and myself to Roy's family members.  Roy was a great addition to the CD branch when he eventually converted over from a "Steamer".

 

I first knew Roy as a Standard Diver in Malta during the late 1950s.  He had a very buoyant personality and was very well liked.  I am only sorry to have lost contact with him since we both left the RN, a considerable number of years ago now.

 

Dave (Mona)

Eden NSW Au"

 


From MCDOA member Bob Lusty:

 

"Sorry to hear about Roy.  I send my condolences to all his family.  I met Roy in Reclaim a few months after GW’s dive.  George Clucus had just left under a cloud owing to high spirits and Sam Hurn was relieved by John Peach as Chief Diver.  We were guests in Reclaim carrying out trials on the MRO [Mine Radiographic Outfit] set which replaced MRS.  Bill Filer was the boss of the trials team.

 

We had a pleasant stay in Reclaim being welcomed by Roy who was leading hand of the divers’ mess.  Of course, we were cork heads and not real divers.  Roy made an impact on the few weeks we were with him.  He was a very kind and polite human being and made our stay enjoyable.

 

Thank you Roy.

 

Bob Lusty"

 


Death of Lt Cuthbert 'Bert' Blackmore RNVR

 

Sheila Cartwright, a mutual friend, has drawn my attention to the death of Bert Blackmore in a hospice on 7 August.  He was 91 and his funeral is being held today.  Some years ago, Bert was kind enough to give me a personally inscribed copy of his book, 'The Explosive Years', which describes his wartime naval bomb & mine disposal experiences.

 

The Explosive Years

The Explosive Years

by Bert Blackmore

 

Cuthbert (Bert) Blackmore was born in Londonderry in Northern Ireland on 1 July 1917.  In 1933 his family moved to England when his father, who worked in the Ships Surveyors’ Department of the Board of Trade, was transferred to Hull.  Bert started work in the branch office of a London company engaged in the manufacture of engineering supplies.  When war came he registered for National Service and joined the Royal Navy in June 1940.  After new entry training at HMS Collingwood he served as an Ordinary Seaman in the ill-fated destroyer HMS Jersey, a ship in Lord Louis Mountbatten's 5th Flotilla, and saw action in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean.  

 

In September 1941 he was commissioned in the RNVR and was injured by a bomb during the Blitz on Portsmouth.  He immediately volunteered for service with the Directorate of Unexploded Bombs and after training at HMS Volcano, the RN's bomb disposal school at Holmrook Hall near Ravenglass in Cumbria, he rendered safe and disposed of numerous types of bombs and mines in the UK and later in North Africa, Turkey, Greece (during the Civil War) and South East Asia.  After being demobilised in September 1946, he transferred to the RNVR Supplementary Reserve.  Surprisingly, it seems that he was never honoured or decorated for any of his hazardous work.  

 

Out of uniform he married Mary, whom he had met on leave in 1941, and returned to work for his old employer in Hull, in due course taking over management of the branch.  In 1957 he forsook the world of commerce and entered the Queen's Theological College, Birmingham, to train for the ministry of the Church of England.  Ordained in York Minster in 1959, he worked in parishes in York and the Scarborough area where, for a period, he was Rural Dean.  He retired from the active ministry in 1983.  

 

Bert was not a member of the MCDOA but he and his wife Mary have helped me with my Branch research on several occasions.  I will miss him dearly and can only offer Mary and the rest of his family my deepest condolences.

 

Lt Bert Blackmore RNVR

Lt Bert Blackmore RNVR

(1 Jul 1917 - 7 Aug 2008)

 


14 Aug 08 - RN CDs and a former MW to participate in Great South Run

 

Today's Portsmouth News contains this article describing the participation of CPO(D) Ian 'Scouse' Fleming and a team from the Defence Diving School in the BUPA Great South Run in Southsea on Sunday 26 October.  It looks like two of the team will run wearing diving sets.  Ian's step-daughter Claire died from meningitis in 1989 and donations can be made to the Meningitis Trust via the team's web page at www.justgiving.com/navydiver.

 

DDS Great South Run team at Horsea Island

DDS Great South Run team at Horsea Island

with Ian Fleming front row second from right

 

Coincidentally, former CPO(MW) Dorian 'Simmo' Simmonds will also participate in the Great South Run.  His 11-year old daughter Neve has been suffering from Crohn's Disease for the past four years and donations to the Crohn's in Childhood Research Association can be made via his web page at www.justgiving.com/doriansimmonds.

 

Simmo with Neve

Simmo with Neve

 

Come on guys, give whatever you can spare.  These are people from our own 'extended family'.

 


13 Aug 08 - HMS Ledbury in Lisbon

 

The RN website contains this article about the deployment of HMS Ledbury to the Mediterranean with Standing NATO MCM Group 1 (SNMCMG1) under the command of MCDOA member Chris Davies.

 

HMS Ledbury leads SNMCMG1 into Lisbon, passing beneath the huge '25 of April' bridge over the Tagus

HMS Ledbury leads SNMCMG1 into Lisbon, passing

beneath the huge '25 of April' bridge over the Tagus

(RN website photo)

 


12 Aug 08 - Gentlemen Who Lunch (plus one)

 

The MCDOA's 'Not Quite the Last of the Summer Wine' trio of Doug Barlow, Martyn Holloway and Rob Hoole was joined today by fellow MCDOA member Dan Nicholson.  He was visiting friends in the Portsmouth area from his home in Poole which he and his wife Christine are selling in order to move on board their newly purchased narrow boat pending a move to the north of England.  Last week, Dan, Chris and Martyn brought a yacht back from the Channel Islands to Plymouth via Dartmouth in atrocious weather conditions.  The weather today was not conducive to sailing either so we ended up in our favourite haunt, The Blue Bell in beautiful downtown Emsworth, where we enjoyed a pleasant lunch washed down with a few pints of Doom Bar real ale.  

 

Nicholson, Hoole, Barlow & Holloway

Nicholson, Hoole, Barlow & Holloway

in the Blue Bell in Emsworth

 

Afterwards, we returned to Barlow's cottage for tea and stickies prepared by Barlow's lovely hostess Jill.  This photo was taken in the garden before we went our separate ways for another week.

 

Nicholson, Hoole, Barlow and Holloway in Barlow's garden

Nicholson, Hoole, Barlow and Holloway in Barlow's garden

 


9 Aug 08 - Death of ex-Clearance Diver Roy 'Dixie' Dales

 

Former Clearance Diver Mick Lambert has forwarded the following e-mail:

 

"Dear all,

 

I am so sorry to be the bearer of bad news but it is with deepest regret that I have to inform you that Roy (Dixie) Dales passed away in the early hours of Wednesday 6 August 2008, one day before his 74th birthday.  If you are wondering, I am (was to be) his future grandson-in-law.  I helped Roy with all things gadgetry and was amazed that someone in their 70s was so keen to learn about all things modern.  He was a matelot and I'm in the RAF so, as you can imagine, I got plenty of good-humoured stick.

 

Roy died due to a massive heart attack sat in his armchair in his house.  It has come as a deep and unexpected shock to all his family.  He will be cremated at Octon Crematorium on Friday 15 August at 10:00 and any cards or letters of condolence should be sent to the address below.  Please will you be kind enough to pass this sad news on to anyone who knows Roy and especially the guys from the "Ganges" Club, as I know he was very fond of them all.  

 

Thanks for your time.  Once again I am so sorry to be the bearer of this news and sorry it's a group e-mail but there is a lot to be done.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Ian Walker"

 


6 Aug 08 - HMS Ledbury update

 

The RN website contains this article about HMS Ledbury being the last ever winner of the Soberton Trophy for Fishery Protection and this article about her departure to the Mediterranean for a four-month deployment with Standing NATO MCM Group 1 (SNMCMG1).

 

HMS Ledbury

HMS Ledbury

(RN website photo)

 


5 Aug 08 - MCDOA members meet in Bahrain

 

I am grateful to Mike Loane for the following e-mail:

 

"Rob,

 

Last week, at the suggestion of Steve Marshall, we got together for an impromptu but most enjoyable evening of food and tall tales.  The Thai restaurant in the Gulf Hotel, Bahrain, was the venue and myself, Steve, Topsy Turner (on duty in Bahrain with RNZN) and WO1(D) Pete Younger were in attendance.  Steve had been in KSA with Pete and myself doing a bit of work with the RSNF.  For some reason most of the dits revolved around Bob Hawkins, can't think why......?   All good fun as you can see from the picture.

 

All the best from sunny KSA.

 

Mike"

 

MCDOA members with Pete Younger in Bahrain

MCDOA members with Pete Younger in Bahrain

 


4 Aug 08 - Standing NATO MCM Group 1 reassembles at Devonport

 

The RN website contains this article describing the reassembly of SNMCMG1, commanded by MCDOA member Chris Davies, at Devonport after their summer break.  The ships of the group include HMS Ledbury and the former HMS Sandown, now known as EML Admiral Cowan in the Estonian Navy.  EML Admiral Cowan is named after Admiral Sir Walter Henry Cowan who led Royal Navy forces in the Baltic during the Russian Civil War and supported Estonia during its War of Independence.  Her ship's badge is based on Admiral Cowan's family coat of arms and was presented by the Queen at a ceremony in Tallinn on 20 October 2006.

 

SNMCMG1 ships at Devonport

SNMCMG1 ships at Devonport

(RN website photo)

 


2 Aug 08

 

New book from Maurice Cocker

 

I am grateful to our newest MCDOA associate member, Maurice Cocker, for sending a copy of his latest book, Royal Navy Submarines 1901 to the Present Day.

 

Royal Navy Submarines 1901 to the Present Day

Royal Navy Submarines

1901 to the Present Day  

 

Maurice is a retired Lt RNR who also served in the Auxiliary Coastguard, the Royal Naval Auxiliary Service (where he went to sea in the Ham Class inshore minesweeper HMS Puttenham) and the Civil Service.  He is an Associate of the Royal Historical Society and his previous books include: 

Royal Navy Submarines 1901 to the Present Day is a richly illustrated 136-page hardback with forewords written by Vice Admiral Sir Lancelot Bell Davies KBE and Admiral Sir James Perowne KBE.  The book is the first to list every submarine that has worn the white ensign and it contains class notes, specifications and brief information about each vessel, including their fates where appropriate.  Members may be particularly interested in the section covering the first Porpoise Class, also known as the Grampus Class, comprising Grampus, Porpoise, Narwhal, Rorqual, Cachalot and Seal.  Apart from being able to lay ground mines from their torpedo tubes like other submarines, vessels of this class could also lay 50 moored mines from a special compartment running most of the length of the upper casing.  They saw extensive action in the Baltic, Mediterranean and in the Far East during the Second World War and were responsible for many enemy casualties.  However, only one of them survived the war.  From Maurice's book:

 

"...The periscope standards were offset vertically to starboard within the inner conning tower to allow a clear run for the mine-carrying railway which ran down the centreline from the inner bow to the outer stern doors.  Compensating ballast was carried on the port side to ensure stability."

 

Outline of Porpoise Class submarine showing encased minelaying arrangement

Outline of Porpoise Class submarine showing encased minelaying arrangement

 

Royal Navy Submarines 1901 to the Present Day is recommended for anyone who would like a concise description with photos of every type of submarine to have seen service in the Royal Navy.  Its jacket price is £19.99 but it is currently available for £15.99 from Pen and Sword Books.

 


HMS Vernon Heritage

 

I have received the following e-mail:

 

"Of interest possibly to your site: HMS Vernon’s yacht See Otter and its crew taken approx 1949/50.  My father, a former CPO TASI, was an active member of Vernon’s sailing team with its fleet of whalers and the ex-German yacht See Otter now lying in a yard off Castle Street in Portchester.  On retirement he purchased the Vernon Officers' Mess Victory class Bien Aimée, still sailing with the Victory Class at Portsmouth.

 

Regards,

 

Ron Lansley"

 

HMS Vernon's Windfall yacht See Otter c.1949     HMS Vernon's Windfall yacht See Otter c.1949

HMS Vernon's Windfall yacht See Otter c.1949

 

HMS Vernon's Sailing Team in front of Admin Building c.1949     HMS Vernon's Sailing Team in Vernon Creek c.1949

Left: HMS Vernon's Sailing Team in front of Admin Building c.1949

Right: HMS Vernon's Sailing Team in Vernon Creek c.1949

 

HMS Vernon's Sailing Team c.1950

HMS Vernon's Sailing Team c.1950

 

Ron Lansley on Victory Class dayboat

Ron Lansley on Victory Class dayboat

Bien Aimée off Seaview, Isle of Wight

 

I am extremely grateful to Ron for these historic photos.  See Otter, with 50 sq metres of sail, was one of the 'Windfall' yachts, so called because they were confiscated from the German Navy as war reparations after the Second World War.  Most were used by the British Armed Forces for sail training.  See Otter ended up in HMS Vernon and MCDOA member Doug Barlow, then the Waterfront Officer, remembers sailing her regularly during the early 1970s.  She was bought in 1958 by the late Cdr Peter Richardson DSC RN, a staff officer at Vernon who had been responsible for bringing several Windfalls back from Germany and subsequently did much good work for RNSA.  He kept the yacht at HMS Vernon into the 1980s but died in 2002.  The last I heard, See Otter was being restored by one of his sons at his old home in Portchester.

 

Windfall yacht See Otter at Kiel Regatta in 1936

Windfall yacht See Otter at Kiel Regatta

in 1936 when still in German hands

 

Victory Class dayboats date back to 1934 when they were used exclusively by the Royal Navy for receational sailing.  Most of them were based at Portsmouth and Gibraltar (see Doug Barlow's amusing tale, 'Victory is Ours!', in the website's Dit Box).  All the Victorys are now owned privately but those in Portsmouth still race regularly.  See here for further information.

 


1 Aug 08 - Navy News items

 

The August issue of Navy News contains the following MCD-related items: 

    

 


29 Jul 08 - RN MCMVs in the Arabian Gulf

 

The RN website contains this article describing a deep water mine countermeasures exercise conducted by HMS Blyth and HMS Ramsey with US Navy MCM forces in the Gulf and this article describing the return of HMS Cattistock's original ship's company from the Gulf after their six-month deployment manning HMS Atherstone.

 

HMS Cattistock's ship's company being presented with Iraq Operational Service Medals on board HMS Victory by Maj Gen Jim Dutton RM

HMS Cattistock's ship's company being presented with

Iraq Operational Service medals by Maj Gen Jim Dutton RM

(RN website photo)

 


26 Jul 08 - Clearance Divers at 'Meet Your Navy'

 

Today's Portsmouth News contains this photo of LS(D) Dale Magnus (in the tank) and AB(D) Gareth Day among its coverage of 'Meet Your Navy' in Portsmouth Naval Base this weekend.

 

LS(D) Dale Magnus and AB(D) Gareth Day at 'Meet Your Navy'

LS(D) Dale Magnus and AB(D) Gareth Day

at 'Meet Your Navy'

 


25 Jul 08

 

Good publicity for Project Vernon

 

Well done Vernon Monument Project Manager David Carey for getting this full-page spread published in today's Portsmouth News describing our plans to erect a statue in Gunwharf Quays commemorating the Minewarfare and Diving heritage of HMS Vernon (he must have had an extremely good LMCDO Course Officer!):  

 

 

An abridged version of the article can be seen on The News' website here. The 'Welcome to Portsmouth' website also contains this eye-catching article.  Just to remind everyone, offers of help and donations can be pledged via the Project VERNON website at www.vernon-monument.org.

 


Bravery awards for three RN Clearance Divers

 

Congratulations to WO(D) Steve Strange on the award of the Queen's Gallantry Medal (QGM) and to LS(D) Stephane Farrell and Diver 1 John Anderson on the award of the Queen's Commendation for Bravery (QCB) in the List of Operational Honours and Awards released today. All three Clearance Divers were serving with Northern Diving Group (NDG) when they searched for trapped survivors in the capsized oil rig support vessel Bourbon Dolphin in heavy seas off the Shetland Islands in April last year. The incident was given the following coverage in the May 2007 issue of Navy News:

 

 

[Late News: According to this article on the Royal Navy website featuring MCDOA member Andy 'Sharkey' Ward, CPO(D) William 'Willie" Sharp was awarded a Commander-in-Chief's Commendation for his role in the same operation. BZ to all.]

 


RN Minewarfare Heritage

 

I recently received this intriguing request for help from David Erickson in South Africa:

 

"Good day Lieutenant Commander,

 

The attached report is self-explanatory.  It covers the discovery of four Victorian sea mines at the former Royal Navy dockyard at Simon's Town on the Cape Peninsula in South Africa.

 

Victorian sea mines in Simon's Town Dockyard     Victorian sea mines in Simon's Town Dockyard

Victorian mines found in Simon's Town Dockyard

 

I am keen to get two of these mines preserved and on public display, as part of the joint British/South African Naval Heritage of Simon’s Town.  I am forwarding this to you in the hope that one of your members might have knowledge of this type of mine – or could perhaps point me in the direction of a suitable information source.  I have, by the way, followed-up one of your website links (to the Museum of Naval Firepower at Gosport) to see if they might be able to assist.  

 

Essentially I’m trying to find out any relevant information about this type of sea mine – the period during which it was manufactured/deployed, place(s) of manufacture, details of the internal explosive filling/fuses/fittings, etc. etc.  

 

I will be most grateful if you would advise me if you have this type of information available.  If you would like high-resolution photographs, please let me know – I would be happy to oblige.  

 

Thanks in advance for your time, 

 

Kindest regards,

 

DAVID ERICKSON

 

6 Flagship Way

SIMON'S TOWN 7975

Republic of South Africa"

 

According to David's attached report, Building 562 (where the mines were found) was originally part of the Royal Engineers sub-marine mining depot which was established around 1888 and handed over to the Royal Navy for incorporation into the Naval Ordnance Depot on 24 October 1890.  With the help of 'Sandy' at the EOD Technical Information Centre (EODTIC), I have established that these mines were probably 500 lb electrically-fired Mk III 'Naval Countermines', also laid as 'observation mines' in controlled minefields, as shown in this illustration from a report produced by HMS Vernon in 1888:

 

British 500 lb Mk III Naval Countermine

British 500 lb Mk III Naval Countermine

 

The markings on the mines indicate they were manufactured at the Royal Laboratory (Woolwich Arsenal).  We have encountered the same mines before when answering a query from EGUERMIN (see entry for 20 May 05 in News Archive 10):

 

Rigging arrangement for British EM mine c.1891

Rigging arrangement for

British EM Mine c.1891 

 

We have now provided David with sufficient information for him to restore and display these mines to best advantage in South Africa and he has been effusive in his thanks.  

 


24 Jul 08 - 14th Annual Mine Warfare Branch Reunion

 

 

 

The calling notice and booking form for this year's MW Branch Reunion in HMS Collingwood on Friday 20 September 2008 are now available for download on the 'Upcoming Events' page of the website's Members Only area.  The reunion is open to all past and present members of the MCD/MW Branch.  Further information can be seen on the RN Minewarfare Association website.  

 


23 Jul 08 - It's Summer!

 

It's summer and the MCDOA's 'Not Quite the Last of the Summer Wine' trio of Barlow, Holloway and Hoole has been making the most of it.  Last Tuesday we conducted some more exhaustive research on your behalf for the website's occasional Good Pub Guide and can confirm that the Blue Bell in Emsworth is still excellent value (the day's special was a hot crusty baguette filled with delicious wafer thin slices of roast beef and home made horseradish sauce for just £4.95).  Such research can be exhausting as well as exhaustive so we repaired to Barlow's cottage afterwards where his partner Jill kindly provided afternoon tea (including jammy doughnuts) on the lawn.

 

Holloway, Hoole, Jill and Barlow enjoy tea on the lawn 

Holloway, Hoole, Jill and Barlow enjoy tea on the lawn 

 

Last Friday night found us all at Havant Rugby Club where Holloway fronted a gig performed by The Zodions, a rock band he formed with fellow students at Abingdon School during the 1960s.  They have only been together again for a few months but are available for weddings, funerals, bar mitzvahs, birthday parties, etc., at very reasonable rates.  E-mail Paul for a quote and he'll tell you how much they can afford to pay you.

 

The Zodions live! at Havant Rugby Club (Holloway second from right)    The Zodions live! at Havant Rugby Club (Holloway second from right)

The Zodions live! at Havant Rugby Club (Holloway second from right) 

 

Yesterday it was back to being the MCDOA's 'Three Men in a Boat' when we sailed Barlow's yacht 'Dougout' over to the Joint Services Adventurous Sail Training Centre (JSASTC) in Haslar Creek for lunch.  As we passed the Semaphore Tower, I rang up former MCDOA Chairman David Hilton in his lofty office for a local weather forecast (not really, it was just to wind him up!).  As usual, he gave us a cheery wave from his window before going back to ensuring that everything will be in place for Portsmouth's Meet Your Navy festival later this week (25-27 July).

 

Dave Hilton's lofty office 

Dave Hilton's lofty office 

 

On passing the old submarine jetty of the now defunct HMS Dolphin, it was saddening to see the two decommissioned Hunts, Cottesmore and Dulverton, alongside awaiting their fate.  However, it was good to see the new John Fieldhouse Building at the RN Submarine Museum housing the RN's first submarine, Holland 1, which was recovered with the help of Clearance Divers off the Eddystone in 1982.  The submarine Alliance looks in urgent need of attention but an HMS Alliance Conservation Appeal has been started with Prince William as its Patron.

 

Cottesmore and Dulverton lying derelict in Haslar Creek     Cottesmore and Dulverton lying derelict in Haslar Creek

Cottesmore and Dulverton lying derelict in Haslar Creek 

 

John Fieldhouse Building and Submarine Alliance

John Fieldhouse Building and Submarine Alliance

at RN Submarine Museum, Gosport

 

While approaching the jetty at JSASTC, Holloway initiated an impromptu Shoe Overboard Recovery Exercise which was executed successfully.

 

Shoe overboard recovery exercise     Shoe overboard recovery exercise

Shoe overboard recovery exercise

 

After making it alongside, we enjoyed a pint or two outside Hornet Sailing Club and called on the OIC, MCDOA member Geoff Goodwin, to join us.  During the Second World War, HMS Hornet was a Coastal Forces base for Motor Torpedo Boats (MTBs).  It paid off in September 1957 and its wardroom is now the clubhouse.  This was the delightful venue for the MCDOA Ladies Night at the end of May (see entry for 2 Jun 08 in News Archive 22).

 

Holloway, Hoole, Goodwin and Barlow enjoy a pint together     Holloway, Barlow and Goodwin in front of Hornet Sailing Club

Left: Holloway, Hoole, Goodwin and Barlow enjoy a pint together

Right: Holloway, Barlow and Goodwin in front of Hornet Sailing Club

 

Isn't the Summer wonderful?

 


22 Jul 08 - Portsmouth News article about the Clearance Diving Branch

 

Today's Portsmouth News contains the following full-page article describing the EOD role of RN Clearance Divers.  It features LS(D) Alex Newnes of Southern Diving Unit 2 (SDU2) and forms part of the paper's supplement about Meet Your Navy at Portsmouth 25-27 July.

 

 


19 Jul 08 - HMS Shoreham in London

 

The RN website contains this article describing the visit of HMS Shoreham to London last week.

 

HMS Shoreham on the Thames

HMS Shoreham on the Thames

(RN website photo)

 


 18 Jul 08

 

Presentation of Operational Service Medals to HMS Blyth

 

The North East's Journal website contains this article about the presentation of operational service medals to the ship's company of HMS Blyth by Vice-Admiral Paul Boissier, Deputy Commander-in-Chief Fleet (see entry for 10 Jul 08).

 


New personal update

 

The Members Only area contains an update from Alastair Cuthbert (CDO '57) in Dawesville, Western Australia.   

 


17 Jul 08

Ed Thompson returns to Egypt


MCDOA member Ed Thompson returned to Egypt last year to help produce a TV documentary called 'Monster Moves: Rescuing Ramesses' which featured the recovery by RN Clearance Divers in 1977/8 of ancient monuments flooded after the construction of the Aswan Dam.  His account of this trip, entitled 'Return to Egypt - Aswan', has been added to the website's 'Dit Box'.  MCDOA member David Bartlett led a different stage of the operation but was on holiday when the TV company called him.

 

Diocletian Gate on the island of Agilka, recovered by

Diocletian Gate on the island of Agilka, recovered by

RN divers in 1977/8 from the flooded island of Philae 

 


Ken Kempsell returns to Raleigh

 

The RN website contains this article about MCDOA member Ken Kempsell attending the passing-out parade of his grandson, James, at HMS Raleigh..  Ken's son Ian (James's father) is currently serving at Raleigh and was also present.  

 

Lt Cdr Ian Kempsell, trainee Air Engineering Technician James Kempsell and retired Lt Cdr Ken Kempsell GM

Lt Cdr Ian Kempsell, trainee Air Engineering Technician James Kempsell

and retired Lt Cdr Ken Kempsell GM

(RN website photo)

 


Tony Groom returns to Horsea

 

The Ministry of Defence website contains this article describing a recent visit to Horsea Island by former CD, Falklands veteran and author of 'Diver', Tony Groom.  The article also features LS(D) Mike Jacobs and AB(D) Marcus Dickson of Fleet Diving Unit 2 (FDU2)).

 

AB(D) Marcus Dickson, LS(D) Mike Jacobs and Tony Groom

AB(D) Marcus Dickson, LS(D) Mike Jacobs and Tony Groom

(MoD website photo by Allan House)  

 


16 Jul 08 - HMS Penzance out of refit

The RN website contains this article describing the return to the Fleet of HMS Penzance after a seven month refit at Rosyth.

 

HMS Penzance

HMS Penzance

(RN website photo)  

 


15 Jul 08 - Project VERNON Goes Live!

 

John Terry's conceptual design for a statue

John Terry's conceptual design for a statue

 

Today is indeed a red letter day because Project VERNON, the campaign to erect a monument in Gunwharf Quays (the old site of HMS Vernon) to commemorate Vernon's Minewarfare and Diving heritage, has gone live.  Thanks largely to the efforts of MCDOA member David Carey, the Project Manager, this dream is rapidly becoming a reality.  We now need the support, financial and otherwise, of all serving and retired members of the Minewarfare and Clearance Diving communities to bring events to a successful conclusion.

 

Conceptual designs for a statue incorporating a moored mine and a diver in old CDBA have been produced by John Terry, Head of Fleet Graphics, who formerly worked in the Portsmouth Illustrators Group in Creasy Centre at Vernon.  Several leading sculptors have expressed an interest in creating the finished masterpiece.  The Gunwharf Quays management and Portsmouth City Planning Department have given their backing, fundraising has begun and we have already received a pledge of £12,000 from a particularly generous benefactor.

 

The Project VERNON website is now live at www.vernon-monument.org.  Use it to find out more about the project, register your interest, volunteer to help on one of the various committees and pledge donations.  We are actively seeking someone to arrange charitable status for the project after which a Just Giving website page will be set up so that donations can receive the benefit of Gift Aid.

 

The first Press Release is available at:

 

Project Vernon Press Release 01-2008 (Part 1) (pdf file 1 MB)

 

Project Vernon Press Release 01-2008 (Part 2) (pdf file 435 KB)

 

This is a joint venture by the MCDOA, the Association of RN First Class Divers, the RN Minewarfare Association and anyone else with an interest in commemorating the Minewarfare and Diving heritage of HMS Vernon.  Let's get the show on the road!  

 


14 Jul 08 - Funeral of AB(D) Chris 'Jonno' Johnstone RNR

 

From the Superintendent of Diving and MCDOA Chairman, Cdr Paul Jones RN:

 

"Following the death of AB(D) Chris ‘Jonno’ Johnstone RNR at Horsea Island some weeks ago, I was able to attend his funeral at HMS EAGLET (Liverpool) last Friday.  As an ex-AB Gunner / Ship’s Diver and with very strong RN links, Jonno’s family really appreciated the sense of occasion and I can report that HMS EAGLET Ship’s Company did the RN proud with a perfectly executed ceremonial funeral, followed by a splendid wake with a good sprinkling of serving and ex-CDs playing their part throughout."

 

See the second entry for 1 Jul 08 for further information.

 


12 Jul 08 - HMS Chiddingfold and HMS Brocklesby swap ships' companies

 

The Royal Navy website contains this article describing the exchange of ships' companies between HMS Chiddingfold in the Gulf and HMS Brocklesby in Portsmouth.  

 

HMS Chiddingfold sailing from Bahrain

HMS Chiddingfold sailing from Bahrain

(RN website photo)

 


11 Jul 08 - RN Clearance Divers help name cruise liner

 

The video here shows how members of Portsmouth-based Fleet Diving Unit 1 (FDU1) helped actress, singer, model, classical pianist, radio & television presenter and former member of the Hear'Say pop band Myleene Klass name the 113,000 tonne cruise ship Carnival Splendor at Dover yesterday (see second entry for 4 Jul 08).  The BBC website contains this article describing the event involving MCDOA member Ian Richardson (OIC FDU1) and PO(D) Christian Rumming.  Charlie Crocker of BBC Radio Solent conducted an interview with Chris Rumming immediately after the event and a recording can be heard here.  The poor sound quality is due to the significant file compression necessary to host it on the website.

 

Myleene Klass with Christian Rumming

Myleene Klass with Chris Rumming

 

Chris Rumming abseiling up Carnival Splendor

 


10 July 08 - HMS Blyth ship's company receives medals

 

The RN website contains this article describing the presentation of operational service medals to ship's company members of HMS Blyth following her recent mine clearance operations in the Gulf.

 

HMS Blyth ship's company members display their medals

HMS Blyth's ship's company members display their medals

(RN website photo)  

 


7 Jul 08 - HMS Shoreham visits London

 

The RN website contains this article describing a three-day visit to London by HMS Shoreham starting today.    

 

HMS Shoreham

(RN website photo)  

 


6 Jul 08 - The Arabian Gulf Half Marathon

 

MCDOA member Simon Pressdee has sent the following appeal.  Let's give it our backing, support our people in theatre and help some very worthy Service causes.

 

"Hello from the Arabian Gulf and the KAAOT Oil Platform

 

Khawr Al Amaya Oil Terminal (KAAOT)

Khawr Al Amaya Oil Terminal (KAAOT)

 

In a struggle to make some money for charity the team here decided to run a half marathon around the Oil Platform (14 times around to be precise).  We did it in teams of two from between 5am-7am to avoid the extremes of the heat (midday it's 50 degs) - although it was still pretty hot!  Everyone who took part completed it.  As you can see the picture tells the story!

 

Arabian Gulf Half Marathon Team

 

If you fancy sponsoring and adding to the good causes (service charities supporting those injured in recent conflicts - details shown on the website) then please click on this link and spend some money!

 

Thanks.

 

Yours,

 

Simon"

 

This was just the latest in a series of fundraising events organised by CTF 158 personnel to support the BFBS Big Salute campaign which is raising funds for BLESMA, Combat Stress, Veterans Aid, St Dunstan's and Headley Court. Just to reiterate, their Justgiving webpage can be found here.

 


5 Jul 08

 

Russ Crane promoted Vice Admiral and installed as Chief of Royal Australian Navy

 

Vice Admiral Russ Crane AM CSM RAN being installed as Chief of RAN

Vice Admiral Russ Crane AM CSM RAN

being installed as Chief of RAN

(Australian DoD wbsite photo)

 

The Australian Department of Defence website contains this photo sequence showing the MCDOA's good friend Russ Crane being promoted Vice Admiral and installed as Chief of the Royal Australian Navy on Tuesday 3 July 2008 (see entry for 19 Mar 08 in News Archive 21).  Russ undertook the Minewarfare module of LMCDO '77 at HMS Vernon after having qualified as a CDO at HMAS Penguin.  Between 1981 and 1983 he occupied the RAN exchange billet in the Minewarfare Section at Vernon in an illustrious procession that also included Sid Brown, Doug 'Pony' Moore, Vic Justice, Neil 'Dinga' Bell, Garry Kennedy, Russ Crawford and Mike Angus.

 

I know all members will join me in offering Russ and his wife Michelle our heartiest congratulations on this unique achievement; the first MCDO to head a Navy.

 


Paddy McAlpine to Command HMS Daring

 

Paddy McAlpine with Iraqi patrol boat crews

Captain Paddy McAlpine OBE RN seen recently with Iraqi patrol boat crews

(RN website photo)

 

Our own good news is that, following MCDOA member Paddy McAlpine's selection for OF5 Command (see entry for 26 Jun 08 in News Archive 22), he has been appointed to command HMS Daring, the first of the new Type 45 destroyers.  This means he will lead her into operational service following her intensive sea trials.  Warm congratulations Paddy!

 

I am most grateful to MCDOA member Martin Mackey for supplying this welcome news.

 


4 Jul 08

 

HMS Hurworth returns home

 

The RN website contains this article about the return to Portsmouth yesterday of HMS Hurworth after her six-month deployment in the Baltic, North Sea and Atlantic.

 

HMS Hurworth returns to Portsmouth

HMS Hurworth returns to Portsmouth

(RN website photo)


RN Divers to help Myleene Klass name new cruise liner

 

Carnival Splendor

Carnival Splendor

 

The Travel Weekly website contains this article describing how RN divers, including MCDOA member Ian Richardson and PO(D) Christian Rumming of the Fleet Diving Squadron, will help Myleene Klass name the new 113,000 tonne cruise ship Carnival Splendor in Dover on Thursday 10 July.   According to this interview with Myleene Klass on The Independent's website, "Her Austrian father Oscar is a diver and ship's captain".  This article on the Daily Mail website states he was "an Austrian naval diver".  Can anyone clarify his actual status?

 


3 Jul 08 - HMS Grimsby to welcome Round the World Yacht Race finishers

 

The Royal Navy website contains this article announcing that HMS Grimsby will help welcome back the Round the World Yacht Race finishers off Liverpool on 5 July.

 

HMS Grimsby

HMS Grimsby

(RN website photo)

 


2 Jul 08 - HMS Ramsey update

 

The Royal Navy website contains this article about the recent activities of HMS Ramsey in the Gulf.  

 

HMS Ramsey

HMS Ramsey

(RN website photo)

 


1 Jul 08

 

Navy News items

 

The July issue of Navy News contains the following MCD-related items: 

  • The evolution of JMC and Neptune Warrior into Exercise Joint Warrior featuring MCDOA member Paddy McAlpine, Director of JTEPS (formerly JMOTS).

  • The activities of Standing NATO MCM Group 1 (SNMCMG 1), commanded by MCDOA member Chris Davies, featuring HMS Roebuck and HMS Hurworth

  • The recent activities of HMS Ledbury

  • A visit by Exmouth Sea and Marine cadets to HMS Middleton

  • Divers from HMS Cattistock swimming with sharks featuring Lt Greg Powell and AB(D) Bruce Robinson. 

  • A recruiting appeal for RN CDs.

                   

 

 


Diving Fatality at Horsea Island

 

Today's Portsmouth News contains this article about the death of AB(D) Christopher Johnstone (RNR) at Horsea Island last week (see entry for 27 Jun 08 in News Archive 22).

 


 

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