30 Jun 11
The MCDOA enjoys strong links with our American and Canadian cousins
Past MCDOA Chairman Paul Jones, currently the Commanding officer of HMS Excellent, has been sent a message by Commander Mike Egan USN (previously the US Superintendent of Diving and currently the Commanding Officer of the Diving & Salvage Training Centre, Panama City) about a successful combination of the US / Canadian diving conference with an EOD Memorial Ball. The photo shows Mike Egan (centre) surrounded by bronzed Canadian divers (probably why they held the meeting in Florida and not Ottawa!!). MCDOA members will spot Chris Deere (third from right) and Rollie Leyte (far right) who have routinely made the trip to attend our own Annual Dinner.
Cdr Mike Egan USN flanked by Canadian Navy divers
Official opening of the 'Reclaim Conference Suite' at Fleet Diving Headquarters (Updated)
HMS Reclaim at Spit Sand Fort
As anyone who has read 'HMS Reclaim - A World Record Breaker' in the website's Dit Box knows, HMS Reclaim played a significant part in the development and execution of RN post-war diving. In recognition of her historic role, the conference suite at Fleet Diving Headquarters on Horsea Island is being named in her honour.
Soapy Watson, our Honorary Treasurer, informs me that the Reclaim Conference Suite will officially be opened by MCDOA member Cdre Paddy McAlpine RN, the senior diver in the Royal Navy on Tuesday 26 July 2011.
1845-1900 Meet in the FDS Conference Room
1905 All to be seated in the conference room
1910 Citation on HMS RECLAIM
1920 Cdre McAlpine opens the RECLAIM CONFERENCE SUITE
1930-2030 Cheese and Wine
2030-onwards Further hydration at Port Solent
Dress will be Day Working Rig for serving personnel and Smart Casual for others. Cheese and wine will be served courtesy of the MCDOA and there will be a small tombola so bring some cash.
Soapy would like to hear from any divers who served in HMS Reclaim so that he can invite them along. Numbers are limited to a maximum of 50. Please contact him via this email address or phone him during working hours on 023 9222 4145. The deadline for replies is close of play on 15 July.
Soapy is also looking for pictures and memorabilia of HMS Reclaim to put on display; the older the better. He is particularly keen to locate a ship's badge and the oil painting that once hung in the foyer of Creasy Building at HMS Vernon and later at FDS. Can anyone help?
29 Jun 11 - Bangor takes over protecting the 'vital lifeline' to Misrata
MCDOA member Lt Cdr Neil Marriott, CO of HMS Bangor (left) accepting
a NATO flag in Malta from Lt Cdr James Byron, CO of HMS Brocklesby
(RN website photo)
Apart from helping to clear mines in the approaches to Misurata (see entry for 5 May 11), I suspect she may also have had a hand in severing the al-Alyaf cable off Libya's coast which cut Gaddafi's communications to the towns of Sirte, Ras Lanuf and Brega (link). If so, this would have been in the fine tradition of Operations Sabre and Foil conducted during the Second World War by divers from X-Craft miniature submarines.
HMS Brocklesby is currently due to return to Portsmouth on Monday 4 July. See you on the Round Tower.
28 Jun 11 - Queen's diamond jubilee medal to be issued
MCDOA member Bob Hawkins has suggested I publicise the fact that a Diamond Jubilee Medal will be issued to all serving personnel next year. Further details can be found on the MoD website here.
26 Jun 2011 - NATO Submarine Rescue System achieves full operational capability
Ex-CD Mike O'Meara, Director HSSEQ AFGOM at SubSea 7, has drawn my attention to this announcement on the DIVEX website describing the achievement of Full Operational Capability (FOC) by the Faslane-based NATO Submarine Rescue System (NSRS) which may have passed some members by (see entries for 29 Jun 07 in News Archive 18 and 22 Mar 08 in News Archive 21). The article features MCDOA associate member Derek Clarke, the Joint Managing Director at DIVEX.
23 Jun 11 - SDU2 deals with unexploded bomb at Cleethorpes
I am grateful to PO(D) Ken Smith of Southern Diving Unit 2 (SDU2) for drawing my attention to this article on the Cleethorpes People website although it mistakenly states the team came from Southampton rather than Portsmouth.
21 Jun 11 - Long Service & Good Conduct Medal awards
Congratulations to WO1(D) Pete Younger on being gazetted for the award of the Clasp to his LS & GC for the proverbial 30 years of undetected crime and to PO(MW) R. Loveland for the award of the LS & GC on reaching half way.
20 Jun 11 - 'Superb' Brocklesby completes her Libyan mission
The Navy News website contains this article announcing the completion of HMS Brocklesby's mission off Libya (See entry for 5 May 11). She had originally deployed from Portsmouth in January to work with Standing NATO MCM Group 1 (SNMCMG1).
Smoke billows from an oil refinery near the port at Misrata after being
hit by Government forces - as seen from the bridge of HMS Brocklesby
(Navy News photo)
BZ to all on board and safe passage back.
Postscript: The RN website has since added this article with more photos.
19 Jun 11 - Coverage of the official opening of the HDS Museum
The weather forecast was not propitious for the official opening of the Historical Diving Society (HDS) museum at No. 2 Battery, Stokes Bay yesterday but luckily the rain held off for the duration of the ceremony.
Entrance of Historical Diving Society's museum at Stokes Bay
Apart from Yours Truly, MCDOA members present included Chairman Chris Baldwin (RN Superintendent of Diving), previous Chairman Paul Jones (Commanding Officer of HMS Excellent), Honorary Treasurer Richard 'Soapy' Watson (SOO Fleet Diving Squadron), HDS Chairman Dr John Bevan (ex-RNPL) and Gavin Anthony (ex-RNPL). Other members of the RN diver community included AORNFCD Chairman Don 'Jimmy' Green, John Towse (ex-RNPL), John Dadd, Mike O'Meara, Jim 'Tommo' Thomson, Peggy Neil, Ted Setchell and Clive Egginton.
On arrival, HDS members, museum volunteers and invited guests mustered in the museum prior to the ceremony.
Left: Ex-CDs Jim 'Tommo' Thomson and Peggy Neil
Right: MCDOA member and QinetiQ scientist Gavin Anthony explains old RN rebreathers
Left: John Dadd flanked by museum volunteers Dougie Saunders and Barry ?
Right: Barry Jackson and Ray Mabbs, the museum's strolling divers
Left: Rob Hoole, your humble Vice Chairman and Webmaster
Right: HDS member Roger Forster
Left: Gosport Borough Council officials Diane Dobison (my next door neighbour's sister) and Lynda Dine
Right: HDS Membership Secretary Cheryl Wingett in conversation
Left: Melo Wallace-Potter (right) with other HDS members
Right: Ann Bevan chats to Barry Jackson and Jim Hutchison
Left: Admiral Ibbotson chats to Peggy Neil with Paul Jones in foreground
Right: Jim 'Tommo' Thomson with Soapy Watson and Peggy Neil (Paul Hares far right)
Attendees assemble outside the museum for the
official opening ceremony
The ceremony started with short speeches by HDS Chairman John Bevan, HDS Museum Officer Kevin Casey, Vice Admiral Sir Richard Ibbotson KBE, CB, DSC, Caroline Dinenage MP (who had been delayed at HMS Sultan's Open Day) and Mayor of Gosport, Councillor Chris Carter, who all emphasised the significant diving heritage of Gosport and the worldwide interest that the museum would arouse.
Left: HDS Chairman welcomes attendees
Right: HDS Museum Officer Kevin Casey describes the origins of the project
Left: Vice Admiral Ibbotson gives his blessing
Right: Caroline Dinenage MP adds her best wishes
Left: The Mayor of Gosport pledges the Borough Council's support for the museum
Right: Some of the onlookers at the ceremony
After the speeches, Admiral Ibbotson, Caroline Dinenage MP and Councillor Carter used a diver's short sword to cut three successive ribbons stretching across the 'drawbridge' leading to the main entrance of the museum.
Admiral Ibbotson and Caroline Dinenage MP cut their respective ribbons
Councillor Carter cuts his ribbon
After the ceremony, attendees entered the museum for a reception and a chance to look around the exhibits.
Left: The throng in the main gallery
Right: Museum Officer Kevin Casey explains a Kirby Morgan to the Mayor and Mayoress of Gosport
Left: John Towse explains the diving heritage of Gosport to Caroline Dinenage while Martin Marks looks on
Right: Official guide John Dadd explaining exhibits to Admiral and Lady Ibbotson
Right: Liz and Cheryl enjoying themselves
Melo Wallace-Potter with Jim 'Tommo' Thomson
Left: MCDOA member Gavin Anthony with MCDOA Chairman Chris Baldwin
Right: Mike O'Meara has a drink with the Dadds
Left: HMS Hurworth shipmates during the first Gulf War: The then AB(D) Soapy Watson, Cox'n
Peggy Neil and CO Richard Ibbotson with veteran diver Jim Hutchison in the foreground
Right: Current MCDOA Chairman Chris Baldwin and his predecessor Paul Jones flank
Jim 'Tommo' Thomson (Sorry about the blurred image)
Left: Ted Setchell and his wife
Right: Don 'Jimmy' Green and his wife with John Dadd
Some of the younger attendees have fun outside
Left: John Bevan (450m) and Jim Thomson with fellow divers who have exceeded 400 metres
including ex-CD Pete Digweed (470m) and Pat Stephens (450m)
Right: Ann Bevan takes charge at reception
Make no mistake. The UK diving population is huge these days and this is the biggest and most comprehensive museum of its type in the country. Many of the artefacts are unique. I'm sure people will flock to it once word starts getting around.
18 Jun 2011 - Navy vessel safeguards sailors from explosions
Christopher Lloyd of HMS Hurworth
('This is South Wales' website)
16 Jun 11 - Official opening of the Historical Diving Society museum
The Historical Diving Society (HDS) museum at Stokes Bay will be officially opened at 1400 on Saturday 18 June by Councillor Chris Carter (recently installed Mayor of Gosport) in the presence of Caroline Dinenage MP (daughter of TV presenter Fred and wife of an RN officer) and Vice Admiral Sir Richard Ibbotson KBE, CB, DSC (ex-ship's Diver, decorated CO of HMS Hurworth during the first Gulf War and Guest of Honour as DCINCFLEET at our annual dinner in 2009).
The museum will be open to the general public between 1600 and 1800. Much of the work has been performed by the likes of John Dadd, Jim 'Tommo' Thomson, Mike O'Meara, Stew Sissons, Gavin Anthony and Clive Egginton so, quite understandably, the RN display is the best on show. A copy of the museum's brochure can be downloaded here:
The President of the HDS is Surgeon Vice-Admiral Sir John Rawlins, KBE, MA (Oxf), BB, BCh, FRCP, FFCM, FRAES and the Chairman is MCDOA member Dr John Bevan BSc, MSc, PhD, FSUT, FAE.
15 Jun 11 - Navy News items
The June issue of Navy News contains these items of particular MCDOA interest:
13 Jun 11 - Annual Divers' Reunion & Joint Association Barbecue
It was great to see so many familiar faces at the reunion organised by Troy Tempest in the Royal Maritime Club on Friday night and the Horsea Island barbecue organised by MCDOA Treasurer Soapy Watson and MCDOA Secretary Mick Beale on Saturday. Here are a few photos featuring just a few of the attendees at these the events:
Left: Maggie Lockwood, Joe Maher, Stew Sissons and Hoppy Hopewell (plus Chris 'Paddy' Doonan)
Right: Donkey Bray the Younger, Dusty Miller, Soapy Watson, Jim 'Tommo' Thomson and Jimmy Bond
Left: WW II 'P' Party 1572 veteran Mike Connolly with his wife Liz
Right: WW II 'P' Party 1571 veteran David Shane with his wife Glen (a former Wren)
Rob Hoole with WW II 'P' Party 1571 veteran David Shane
Left: Jimmy Bond, Rob Hoole and Soapy Watson
Right: Mick Fellows has a serious word with Tim Sizer
Left: Hoppy Hopewell, John Cobb and Maggie Lockwood
Right: Troy Tempest and Les Sharpe
Left: Colin 'Scouse' Kidman chats with the Shanes and Connollys
Right: Ted Setchell, Gabby Haines and Howard Douglas with their respective ladies
Left: John Cobb and Peggy Neil sort out the world
Right: Mike Connolly in conversation with Les Sharpe
Left: Yvonne Jones with MCDOA Chairman Chris Baldwin and his family
Right: Michael 'Jacko' Jackson with his wife Ros and their daughter Alexandra
Left: The Zodions, including MCDOA members Martyn Holloway and Dan Nicholson, back for a third year
Right: Our Chef cooked up a storm of beefburgers, chicken and hotdogs with salad and all the trimmings
Left: Dan Nicholson's wife Christine talks with Ann Holloway and some of the band 'groupies'
Right: Gabby Haines chats with Donkey Bray the Older while Yvonne Jones talks to Howard and
Jan Douglas with Kay Haines looking on
Left: Pauline Sandiford with Vivienne (Royal Maritime Club), Peter Anderson's widow Sue and friend
Right: General view
Dan and Chris Nicholson with Martyn Holloway and band 'groupies'
Right: John Dadd, Dhoby Lines and Chris Page
Left: Dixie Dean, Dave Payne, Alan 'Bomber' Mills and Ronnie Barker with family members
Right: Members of The Zodions and families with Ann Holloway
Left: The Holloways, Nicholsons and band 'groupies'
Right: Lez and Spike Spears
Left: Paul Jones with Michael 'Jacko' Jackson, his wife Ros and their daughter Alexandra
Right: Bar staff Mick Beale and his family with Yvonne Jones
Left: Doug Barlow and Jill with brother David and friends John and Lin
Right: Gabby Haines, Donkey Bray the Older and Howard Douglas with their ladies
Left: Pauline Sandiford with some of Doug Barlow's party
Right: Mick Beale and his hard-working wife and daughter at the bar
Left: David and Pauline Sandiford with some of Doug Barlow's party
Right: An intellectual challenge for Doug Barlow (right) and his brother David
12 Jun 11 - Bognor Regis Navy diver completes specialist training
The Bognor Regis Observer contains this article describing the presentation of a certificate and diving log to newly qualified diver David Pearce by MCDOA member Paddy McAlpine, Deputy Flag Officer Sea Training.
Commodore Paddy McAlpine OBE presents AB(D) David Pearce
with his diver qualification certificate
Congratulations to David Pearce and all the others who qualified on his course.
11 Jun 11 - Queen's Birthday Honours
Hearty congratulations to WO1(MW) Craig Campbell on being appointed a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the Military (Navy) Division of the Queen's Birthday Honours published today. Congratulations as well to WO1(MW) Starsy Starbuck on being selected for the award of the Meritorious Service Medal (MSM).
Congratulations also to Vice Admiral Bob Cooling, the Guest of Honour at our annual dinner in 2008, on his appointment as a Companion of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath (CB).
10 Jun 11 - MCM2 Handover
Congratulations to MCDOA member Martin Mackey who relieved fellow member John Craig as the Commander Second Mine Countermeasures Squadron (MCM2) last Monday.
Cdr John Craig (left) hands over the Squadron to Cdr Martin Mackey
beside No. 2 Basin in Portsmouth Naval Base
9 Jun 11 - Sponsored swim by RN divers around Portsea Island
This exciting event will take place on Saturday 30 July. It is being organised by MCDOA Secretary Mick Beale, the Royal Navy Diving Standards Officer based at Fleet Diving HQ on Horsea Island. The event will start and finish at Eastney beach and the team will swim anti-clockwise around Portsea Island. The team will enter the water at 1000 and should be passing Gunwharf Quays sometime between 1400 and 1500. They hope to finish the swim between 1600 and 1700 and then rush back down to Gunwharf Quays to meet up with the Project Vernon team for some light refreshment!
Yours Truly is helping man the Project Vernon stand adjacent to the pond at Gunwharf Quays, the planned location for the Vernon monument, from 0900 until about 1830. If you are able to lend your services for a couple of hours, please contact Vernon Monument Trustee & Head of Communications Dixie Dean MBE as soon as possible. Members of Southern Diving Unit 2 (SDU2) may also be exhibiting.
The proceeds are being split 40% to Project Vernon, 40% to Cystic Fibrosis Kids of Portsmouth (HMS Excellent's chosen local charity) and 20% to the RN & RM Charity. A sponsorship form can be downloaded here:
Members of the RN minewarfare & diving community are urged to give this their utmost support.
7 Jun 11 - HMS Bangor en route to Libya
The MoD website contains this article announcing yesterday's departure of HMS Bangor (MCM1 crew 8) to relieve HMS Brocklesby (MCM2 crew 3) for Operation Ellamy off Libya. The article features MCDOA member Neil Marriott, HMS Bangor's Commanding Officer.
MCM2 crew 3, currently manning HMS Brocklesby, returned from a 6-month deployment in the Gulf in August last year but left Portsmouth again in January for another 6-month deployment with Standing NATO MCM Group 1 from which they were detached when the Libyan crisis flared up. This means that they have been deployed for 12 of the past 16 months.
HMS Bangor departs Faslane
(MoD photo by LA(Phot) Nick Crusham)
God speed and best wishes to Neil and his ship's company for their safe return.
5 Jun 11 - Exercise BOLD MONARCH 2011
I am grateful to Heather Lane for this news item:
You might be interested to let interested parties from the diving fraternity know about the Major International Exercise taking place off the coast of Spain, Bold Monarch 2011. Those on Facebook can enjoy perusing the images of international divers and submariners working together on the most ambitious Submarine Rescue Exercise in the World (link). Tomorrow I will have the privilege of escorting media 100m down in the NSRS - NATO's submarine Rescue system... to witness it mating - the technical term - with both a Spanish submarine Galerna and on Media Day a Russian Kilo. This is a rather historic event and marks the culmination of years of work to bring submariners of operating nations together in the spirit of survival from the depths.
I also spent time on the Spanish Dive support vessel Neptuno with Dutch Navy and Canadian divers from the Fleet Diving Unit Atlantic. Yes, all divers are pretty much the same but they do manage some of their procedures in different ways... working together to clear debris, manage ventilation on submarines, conduct underwater engineering tasks in support of the rescue chambers has been pretty interesting to say the least.
Take a look at Bold Monarch on the NATO website www.manw.nato.int but better than that search for Bold Monarch 2011 on Google and take a look at this page.... remarkable pictures of the chambers and divers operating at great depths and still another week to go... It should be on the BBC news on Tuesday night or Wednesday depending on how much time they get to edit it... here's a teaser of some of the photos...
APIC Bold Monarch 2011
NATO Public Affairs Officer"
Here is one of my favourite photos from the NATO website:
Leading Seaman divers from the Canadian Fleet Diving
Unit (Atlantic) on board SPS Galicia
4 Jun 11 - HDS Museum coverage
MCDOA associate member Dr John Bevan, Chairman of the Historical Diving Society (HDS), has forwarded this excerpt from the Gosport Borough Council's Newsletter 'Coastline' describing the HDS Museum at Stoke Bay:
2 Jun 11
HMS Hurworth visiting Hartlepool
HMS Brocklesby at war off Libya
I have also spotted this story on the Falmouth Packet website which features AB(MW) Phil Perkins from Porthlevan. He is the longest serving member of the ship's company.
1 Jun 11 - MW Charity Riders
MW Charity Cyclists including MCDOA member Bill Kerr,
Officer-in-Charge of the MWOTC
Eight members of the Minewarfare Operational Training Centre (MWOTC) at HMS Collingwood intend cycling between all of the towns affiliated to Hunt Class MCMVs (past and present). The planned route is approximately 1,200 miles long and the cyclists hope to arrive in Gunwharf Quays (the former location of HMS Vernon in Portsmouth) after a week of hard riding. The riders will be raising money for the RN & RM Charity (RNRMC) and Project Vernon, the campaign to erect a monument at Gunwharf Quays to commemorate the minewarfare and diving heritage of HMS Vernon. Both worthwhile causes have been extremely supportive of this venture which can be followed on twitter and facebook. The team's itenerary is as follows:
19 July: Cattistock
19 July: Dulverton (Stay overnight)
20 July: Berkeley
20 July: Brecon (Stay overnight)
21 July: Ledbury
21 July: Atherstone (Stay overnight)
22 July: Middleton (Stay overnight)
23 July: Hurworth (Stay overnight)
24 July: Brocklesby (Stay overnight)
25 July: Quorn
25 July: Cottesmore
25 July: Bicester (Stay overnight)
26 July: Chiddingfold (May stay overnight)
27 July: Gunwharf Quays
MW Charity Cyclists' Route
The riders would be delighted to see any ex-HUNT crew members at the villages/towns/Hunts along the way should anyone live nearby. To sponsor the team online, go to its Virgin Money Giving webpage here.
29 May 11 - Joint Association Barbecue at Horsea Island on Saturday 11 June
As time is fast running out, I am reposting this notification from MCDOA Hon Sec Mick Beale. Soapy Watson has advised me that he will have the tickets for each party made available at the Main Gate at Horsea Island on the Saturday. They will be in envelopes with the lead party name on the front.
"Summer is nearly here, and as the great space heater in the sky gets closer our thoughts turn to heading outdoors to gather with friends and colleagues to enjoy some fine fare, accompanied by a cool glass of amber nectar. Thankfully the perfect opportunity is again at hand with our combined Annual BBQ and Summer Social on Saturday 11 June at Horsea Island.
Once again, the intention is to enjoy an informal outdoor family-orientated afternoon/evening which, in addition to a good old fashioned barbecue with accompanying refreshments, will again include live music from the Zodions '60s and '70s revival band, a tombola, traditional mess horse-racing (for children - big & small) and, of course, the chance to meet up with old friends and their families.
Dress will be casual. Car parking will be available in the car park adjacent to the Training Area at the Southern end of the lake. All this is for the excellent price of only £5 per head, inclusive of the first drink; so come along and have a great afternoon in the knowledge that you will also be supporting an excellent cause, with all profits raised on the day going toward the Vernon Monument Project.
To make sure that you don’t miss out on this once a year opportunity please contact:
Looking forward to seeing you there,
This event is sponsored and subsidised by the MCDOA, the Minewarfare Association (MWA), the Association of RN First Class Divers (AORNFCD) and the newly formed RN CD Association. It is open to all members of the RN MW and Diving community.
Images from last year's barbecue
(See entry for 14 Jun 10 in News Archive 30 for more)
27 May 11 - Volunteers required to organise celebration of 60th Anniversary of the CD Branch
The RN Clearance Diving Branch was formally instituted by Admiralty Fleet Order (AFO) 857/52 on 7 March 1952 although a nucleus had been set up two years earlier to take advantage of the few remaining men with wartime experience.
The 50th Anniversary weekend celebrations in May 2002 were highly successful and included an informal Friday night reunion in the Home Club (now the Royal Maritime Club) attended by 300, a glitzy Saturday night dinner dance in Portsmouth Guildhall attended by over 400 and a thanksgiving service at St Barbara's church in HMS Excellent on the Sunday morning attended by around 100. The organising committee comprised:
Chairman: Les Sharpe (AORNFCD)
Secretary: Rob Hoole (MCDOA)
Treasurer: Nick Carter (AORNFCD)
Member: John Cobb (AORNFCD)
Member: Ldg Diver Glyn Holgate (Serving CDs although he was pier-head jumped to Iraq midway through proceedings!)
Les Sharpe, Rob Hoole, Nick Carter and John Cobb before
the CD Branch Golden Anniversary Dinner in 2002
Several people have asked me "what is happening about the 60th anniversary?" but such events don't just 'happen'. If this important milestone is to be commemorated in the manner it deserves, fresh blood is required from all sections of the CD Branch to form an organising committee and start planning now as many suitable venues are booked solid over a year in advance. Don't leave it all to the usual few hard-working volunteers because they won't be playing this time.
26 May 11 - South Coast Proms 1 & 2 July 2011
Paul Jones, former MCDOA Chairman and current Commanding Officer of HMS Excellent on Whale Island, has asked me to publish the following announcement:
SOUTH COAST PROMS 2011 (WHALE ISLAND)
South Coast Proms 2011 will take place on Fri 1 and Sat 2 Jul on the Upper Lawn HMS EXCELLENT (Whale Island). Tickets are now available at www.southcoastproms.com or 023 9231 2007. Tickets will cost: £20 for an adult; £50 for a family (2 adults plus up to 6 under 14s); £10 for a young person (5 to 18) and Under 5s are free.
South Coast Proms is a spectacular event, hugely entertaining and a great evening out for you, family and friends – it directly supports the RNRM Charity and showcases the fantastic talent of our Royal Marine buddies. It’s not just brilliant traditional band music – there are solo singing performances, unusual instrumentals and dance music (my favourites last year were a medley of ‘Bond’ Themes and a Michael Buble ‘singalike’). The whole thing was compered by Sally Taylor (BBC South) and same again this year.
Please try and support it. I was lucky enough to attend last year and it absolutely lived up to the hype – fantastic! It almost made me wish I had become a Royal... but not quite! Please try and spread the word (all welcome).
25 May 11 - A striking photo
I am grateful to Simon Brown for allowing me to display this photo of divers from FDU2 which has been awarded First Prize in the Open category of this year's British Underwater Image Festival as featured in this month's Navy News:
A pair of Royal Navy Clearance Divers
staging a mock underwater fight
Armed for self-protection, this team of divers discreetly surveys potential invasion beaches. This image was staged to create a rather unique Christmas greetings card for the team.
Image © Simon Brown. All rights reserved. www.simonbrownimages.com
24 May 11 - Forthcoming books
Members may be interested in these books written by authors I have been privileged to assist in the past:
'Navy Divers' by Gregor Salmon
This book has been written to coincide with the 60th Anniversary of the Royal Australian Navy's Clearance Diving Branch and will be available from July.
This book is the third in the impressive trilogy of books Cdr David Bruhn USN has written about US Navy minesweepers and will be available from August.
I am also aware of other forthcoming books featuring naval bomb & mine disposal so watch this space.
23 May 11 - Navy News items
The May issue of Navy News contains these items of particular MCDOA interest:
From the Strait of Hormuz to the shores of Tripoli: The participation of HMS Brocklesby in the Libyan campaign
Surely that's not Shoulton's early history?: A letter about the now stricken Ton Class minehunter HMS Shoulton
Saved by a shark, tormented by peas: Amazing wartime tale of ex-RN diver (and current HDS member) Jim Hutchison
Rob Hoole with Jim Hutchison at
Portsmouth Navy Days in 2010
22 May 11 - RN Divers' Golf Championsip 2011
The annual RN Divers Golf Championship will take place at Botley Park Golf course on Friday 29 July 2011. It is open to all serving and former RN divers plus sponsors.
The format will be 9 holes am and 18 holes pm and the winner will be decided on the best Stableford over 27 holes. There will also be prizes for best Stableford division 1 & 2 and 'Duffer of the Day'. The cost for the day is £57 which will include coffee and bacon sandwich on arrival, lunch and an evening BBQ. There will also be a raffle during the evening with some great prizes including holidays in Spain. If you would like to bring a guest for the evening BBQ the cost is £15.
21 May 11 - Thanksgiving Service for Lt Noel Cashford MBE RNVR
As previously reported (see entry for 13 May 11), MCDOA member Robin Jack was kind enough to represent the RN minewarfare & diving community at the thanksgiving service for MCDOA associate member Noel Cashford at Matlock on 7 May. Robin has provided this account of the service:
"The service commemorating Noel Cashford's life was held on 7 May 2011 at Matlock Methodist Church and was entitled "A Celebration of his Life".
The Service was opened by the Minister emphasising that the service was to be a Celebration of Noel's life rather than a Mourning service for his departure. Noel had organised much of the Service himself and had chosen the three hymns that were to be sung. These included the Naval Hymn (Eternal father - Strong to save) and the Naval Prayer which was spoken by all those present.
Two formal tributes were paid to Noel, the first by his son Peter who took up Noel's story after he had left the Service (His war record was considered to be sufficiently published on the Internet) and went to work for Kennings and then as a consultant to Peter Blake after his retirement from Kennings. Noel also had a sideline giving talks about his wartime experiences which were well known for being punctuated by loud noises!! Noel gave all money received from these talks to charity. Somewhat surprisingly Noel was only given 10 days' notice of his demobilisation from the Royal Navy. Noel also felt strongly that there was a lack of memorials to those who died rendering ordnance safe and his work to remedy this is well documented.
The second tribute was given by his neighbour of 26 years who reminisced about what a wonderful friend Noel had been from the moment she moved next door to the Cashfords - not only to her and her husband but to his many friends citing several occasions when Noel had shown that nothing was too much trouble for him.
After the formal tributes members of the congregation were invited to come forward with their own reminiscences of Noel and two people did so, again echoing the theme of what a wonderful friend Noel was. The final comment was that Noel was "only a little man but he had a heart as big as a battleship's boiler". Mention was also made of the great support that Noel's wife Brenda had provided to Noel - truly a part of Team Cashford!!
The Service was very well attended despite the fact that members of Noel's Rotary Club were unable to attend due to a prior commitment elsewhere. After the service there was an opportunity to take refreshments and for those who knew Noel to exchange ditties. A collection was held with the proceeds going to the British Heart Foundation and Project Vernon.
I never met Noel but I came away from the Service wishing that I had and with an overriding impression of a man who was the sort of friend that we all wish we had."
Lt Noel Cashford MBE RNVR
(1 Sep 1922 - 15 Jan 2011)
Thank you Robin.
20 May 11 - HMS Ramsey's departure for the Gulf
The Helensburgh Advertiser contains this article describing the departure of HMS Ramsey from Faslane for a four-year deployment in the Gulf. It features MCDOA member Alex Bush, her Commanding Officer.
HMS Ramsey's ship's company
19 May 11 - Grimsby works with Iron Duke in the Gulf
The RN website contains this article and the Navy News website contains this article describing the recent activity of HMS Grimsby with the Type 23 frigate HMS Iron Duke, recently arrived in the Gulf. Grimsby will soon be relieved by HMS Ramsey and return to the UK after her two year deployment.
HMS Grimsby with HMS Iron Duke in the Gulf
(RN website photo)
18 May 11 - Blyth's crew ready for Gulf duties
16 May 11 - HMS Quorn leaves for the Gulf
14 May 11 - TV programme featuring NDG and Garvie Island
'Britain's Secret Seas', due for broadcast tomorrow (Sunday) on BBC2 at 2000, will feature the bombing range at Garvie Island off the coast of Scotland and the work of the Northern Diving Group (NDG) in clearing unexploded ordnance from it. See here for background details and a video featuring MCDOA member Jason White QGM.
Postscript: For those who missed the programme, it is available to watch again on BBC iPlayer here.
13 May 11 - Donation to Project Vernon
I am sincerely grateful to Brenda Cashford for her significant donation to Project Vernon, the campaign to erect a monument at Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth to commemorate the minewarfare and diving heritage of HMS Vernon which previously occupied the site. Brenda is the widow of the late Lt Noel Cashford MBE RNVR, MCDOA member, veteran bomb & mine disposal officer and author. The money was raised in Noel's memory at the thanksgiving service held for him in Matlock on 7 May.
I am also grateful to MCDOA member Robin Jack for representing the RN minewarfare & diving community at the service.
12 May 11 - HMS Quorn departs for the Gulf
(RN website photo)
God speed and safe return.
Postscript: See also this article published on the Navy News website on 13 May:
10 May 11 - Exercise Arabian Gauntlet
Participants in Exercise Arabian Gauntlet
(RN website photo)
9 May 11 - Sleek, Sophisticated And Gone From Home For Very Long Time
HMS Ramsey departing Faslane
(RN photo by LA(Phot) Ben Sutton, FRPU North)
God speed and best wishes to Alex and his ship's company for their safe return.
Postscript: MCDOA member Bob Hawkins, Commander Faslane Patrol Boat Squadron, sent me this follow-up on 7 Jun 2011:
I’ve just dipped into our website and seen the coverage of HMS RAMSEY’s departure to the Gulf. I’ve missed a trick by not letting you know that as a friend and fellow MCD of Alex Bush, and in recognition that he Commanded HMS PURSUER before me, I volunteered to lead RAMSEY out of the Gareloch at the start of her epic trip to the Middle East on 9 May. The picture of RAMSEY attributed to LA(Phot) Sutton was taken from the quarterdeck of PURSUER – that’s our ensign flying proudly in the foreground.
8 May 11 - Spotlight on HMS Brocklesby
This short but excellent series of videos documents HMS Brocklesby's people, combat systems and capabilities. It was recorded in the Mediterranean shortly before her assignment to Operation ELLAMY off Libya:
The videos highlight the importance of continuous training in realistic circumstances to develop, hone and maintain effective operational capability and provide the 'edge' that wins through when required.
6 May 11 - Navy playing key role to get aid into Libya
5 May 11
Aid ships enter Misrata after NATO ships clear mines
NATO Mine Countermeasures Vessels (MCMVs)
(British Forces Broadcasting Service)
The Navy News website has since published this article describing the detonation of one of the mines by HMS Brocklesby's SeaFox mine identification and disposal system.
Libyan contact mine disposed of by
(Navy News photo)
Minehunters pick up the Gauntlet in the Gulf
The Navy News website contains this article describing the participation of RN minehunters in a multi-national exercise in the Gulf.
Foreground to background: PNS Munsif, HMS Chiddingfold,
HMS Grimsby, HMS Pembroke, PNS Muhafiz and
USS Gladiator with a Sea Dragon from HM-15 overhead
(Picture MC1 Lynn Friant, USN)
NDG blows up grenade at Invergordon
4 May 11
MCDOA Committee Meeting follow-ups:
Payment of MCDOA Membership subscriptions
Despite the announcement highlighted in red at the top of the page, only 25% of members have paid this year's increased membership fee of £15 as agreed at the AGM last November. Defaulting members are urged to redress this oversight as soon as possible by submitting a new Standing Order Authority with the new figure for payment from Jan 2012 onwards and sending Soapy Watson, our Hon Treasurer, a cheque for £5 to make up their shortfall for the current year.
Your attendance at future MCDOA-sponsored events will depend on you being up to date with your payments. The first such event will be the Joint-Association Summer Barbecue at Horsea Island on Sat 11 June (See Forthcoming Events page).
MCDOA Ladies Night cancelled
Regrettably, the MCDOA Ladies Night planned for 28 May at Hornet Sailing Club has been cancelled owing to insufficient support.
Amendment to MCDOA Constitution
Article 504 has been added to the MCDOA Constitution as agreed at last November's AGM.
MCDOA Charity Status
A proposal at last November's AGM for the MCDOA to seek charity status has been investigated and the Committee has decided that the disadvantages outweigh any benefits.
HMS Brocklesby deals with Gaddafi's mines
The Navy News website contains this article and today's Portsmouth News contains this article describing how HMS Brocklesby "has played a key role" in countering Gaddafi's mine threat off Misurata in Libya.
Brocklesby manoeuvres at
speed off the Libyan coast
(Navy News photo by PO(Phot) Sean Clee)
MCM2 Crew 3, currently manning HMS Brocklesby, returned from a 6-month deployment in the Gulf in August last year but left Portsmouth again in January for another 6-month deployment with Standing NATO MCM Group 1 (MCMG1) from which they were detached when the Libyan crisis flared up.
3 May 11 - Ian Geraghty in Clipper Round the World Yacht Race
I have received this message from MCDOA member Ian Geraghty:
"After our big announcement ceremony yesterday, I have been allocated to CV6, a boat which is as yet not sponsored, but with a South African skipper. Several South Africans onboard and Cape Town as one of our stopovers. Watch this space!
This is our boat: Team site for CV6
Even better news is that we will be starting in the Solent. The big day is 31st July. I hope you will come and wave us all off! Even better, if you could donate to my chosen charity, Catch22, you would be helping a very worthwhile cause.
You will be able to follow my progress on the race viewer and see updates on my blog here where you will also be able to sponsor me.
All the best,
2 May 11
Babcock starts work on Royal Navy's newest minehunter
This is actually a press release announcing the start of a five month Support Period (Docking) (SP(D)) for HMS Shoreham at Rosyth. HMS Shoreham may be the RN's newest minehunter but she was actually launched back in April 2001.
HDS Diving Museum update
"Was it good or was it good?!!
Attendances over the three days were, 185, 132 and 135! And that is with competition from the neighbouring Hovercraft Museum!
We had excellent support from Guides:
John Millerchip (with wife Jane)
The feed-back from visitors has been overwhelmingly and enthusiastically positive. We had a healthy income from donations and from merchandise.
We are up and running!
Thank you so much for your support over the last 10 months, even if it has just been moral support.
This will be the last of my frequent updates since we have now got the show on the road. HDS members will continue to receive news via the HDS emailed Newsletter and of course, The HD Times.
If you want to get/keep involved in the running of the Diving Museum, please do let me know. We will need more Guides to provide cover throughout the year, including weekends, bank holidays and school half terms. Even if you could just do half a day, that could help. Opening times are from 1000 to 1700 hrs.
Our experience over the last three days shows that we need at least three guides on duty at any one time (the more the merrier). This is largely due to the fact that we have many items of diving equipment within easy reach and 5-10 year-olds in particular seem bent on destruction. We are in trouble if we only have two Guides and if we only have one - we cannot be open to the public.
The next milestone will be our official, ceremonial opening at 1400 hrs, on Saturday, 18 June.
Thank you again for your support and I look forward to seeing you in the Diving Museum again soon (and bring your friends!)."
If you feel able to help in any way, please contact John via this email address or call him on 07802 785050. You don't have to be an HDS member to get involved.
30 Apr 2011 - NDG deals with torpedo in Firth of Forth
The STV website contains this video report of a call-out for members of Northern Diving Group (NDG) to deal with a torpedo trawled up by a fishing boat earlier this week. The report features MCDOA member John Keenan of the Canadian Navy who is on exchange with the RN.
Lt John Keenan CN at Port Seton
29 Apr 11 - Local people urged to board HMS Cattistock as she returns to Poole
28 Apr 11 - Navy News items
The April issue of Navy News contains these items of particular MCDOA interest:
Divers head to Helmand: The deployment of two more RN Clearance Divers to Afghanistan for EOD duties
Tons of memories: A reunion of the ship's company of HMS Bronington with HRH The Prince of Wales
Telic and Tudor relic for Harry: The presentation of medals to the ships' companies of minehunters
Legendary Lionel's myth-Buster: A letter about legendary naval diver Cdr Lionel 'Buster' Crabb OBE GM RNVR
Diving inspiration dies aged 93: An obituary for the late MCDOA member Lt Cdr 'Uncle Bill' Filer MBE GM RN
27 Apr 11 - HDS Diving Museum update
"O-Day -3 days. We are nearly there!
Margaret Marks commissioned the two "Digi frames" today. One has a film of Astronaut Scott Carpenter in Sealab II trying to get through to President L Johnson via an unbelieving telephone operator and the other has a timeline of diving history. These can be changed by changing memory cards as necessary. Well done Margaret!
We were visited today by Richard Buttriss (ex-RN Ship's Diver) who has kindly put himself forward as a Museum Guide.
Dougie (Isle of Wight) is bringing a half manikin on Friday to set up the remaining rebreather diver. All other exhibits are ready.
We will be cleaning and polishing over the next two days so we will be sparkling for the opening on Saturday.
Don't forget, on Saturday - 0930 hrs for Supporters, HDS members et al and 1100 hrs for the public. Thereafter the normal opening hours will be 1000-1700 hrs, weekends, bank holidays and (hopefully) half-terms too.
The Ceremonial Opening is still scheduled for Saturday, 18 June. That is when we plan to attract maximum media attention.
Coming round the final bend and heading for the finishing post, neck-and-neck, today were:
If you feel able to help in any way, please contact John via this email address or call him on 07802 785050. You don't have to be an HDS member to get involved.
24 Apr 11 - HDS Diving Museum update
"O-Day - 6 days!!
We are working right up to the whistle! Today saw us stuffing and stringing up yet another flying diver so now there is an overhead in-line formation of four flying divers! We must be getting good at it now, because this time nobody fainted when the head fell off. And I know the question you are asking. How many supporters does it take to string up a flying diver? The answer is at the end of this missive.
Today was one of those special Dougie Saunders days. Dougie cycled over from the IoW carrying what appeared to be a 12 litre diving cylinder on his back. To Dougie's dismay nobody blinked an eyelid. He desperately needed to explain to anyone it was really a plastic tube with wooden fittings which he had built.
The signage is going up as fast as pinning and sticking will allow. Then we had the problem of everyone spotting the inevitable spelling mistake here or there, so down they came again and Ann Bevan had to return to the steaming computer to print them out again.
John Dadd made a welcome return, bronzed from his Mediterranean cruise. His holiday stories lost none of their sparkle, even on the third time around.
I have to say it again, the exhibits are looking really FABULOUS. I only wish I had permission to attach photos, but I've been sworn to secrecy. I'm afraid you are going to have come and see for yourself! And we will want a full report too. We need positive feedback, comments (technical corrections), suggestions (and spelling corrections). We are determined to be the best there is.
On parade today were:
We will be at the museum every day now up until the opening, so come along any time. It may be a good idea to phone first, just to make sure (023 9260 2260 or 07802 785050). You have a Diving Museum you can be proud of!
PS The answer to the quiz is six!"
23 Apr 11 - Navy shows off its bomb disposal expertise
Today's Portsmouth News contains this article describing the recent visit to Horsea Island by local dignitaries. The article features MCDOA members Mark Savage (Commanding Officer of the Fleet Diving Squadron (FDS)) and Paul Jones (Commanding Officer of HMS Excellent). Also see the entry for 7 Apr 11.
21 Apr 11 - Exercise Joint Warrior ends with a bang
The MoD website contains this article describing the disposal of two wartime mines by minehunters at the end of of the most recent Exercise JOINT WARRIOR (ex-NEPTUNE WARRIOR, ex-JMC). The article features MCDOA member David Bence, currently Commander First Mine Countermeasures Squadron (MCM1).
HNLMS Willemstad detonates German U-boat laid GN ground
mine (1,000 kg of Hexanite) off Loch Ewe on 14 April 2011
20 Apr 11 - Latest promotion signal
Hearty congratulations to MCDOA member Peter Laughton MBE, currently the Executive Officer of HMS Montrose, on being selected for promotion to Commander with effect from 30 June 2012.
19 Apr 11
It's catch-up time
I know the website has been quiet recently but Yours Truly has only just returned from a restful sojourn with Mrs Webmaster and friends in this unusual and idyllic accommodation on the cliff top between Aberporth and Tresaith in Cardigan Bay, West Wales:
Converted railway carriage 'Wendy' with all mod cons
The view outside the front door
Left: Westwards towards Aberporth
Right: Eastwards towards Tresaith
It certainly made a change from searching for splashed missiles on the test range.
18 Apr 11
Daily Telegraph obituary for Lt Cdr Bill Filer MBE GM RN
Not for the first time, I am indebted to Captain Peter Hore RN for agreeing to write this obituary for the late MCDOA member 'Uncle Bill' Filer which appeared in today's Daily Telegraph.
Minehunters visit the home of the Iraqi Navy
The RN website contains this article describing a recent visit to Umm Qasr in Iraq by HMS Chiddingfold and HMS Grimsby during which Chiddingfold hosted a formal lunch for Britain’s Ambassador to Iraq (Dr John Jenkins), the Head of the Iraqi Navy (Rear Admiral Hussein), the British Consul General for Basra and a number of senior Iraqi, US and RN officers.
HDS Diving Museum update
"O-Day –13 days!!
We are looking sooooo good! Progress has been made on many fronts:
Jim Thomson has repainted the DTU model and it looks like new.
Gavin Anthony has suggested the 690m chamber model would make a complimentary addition!
A Greek sponge diving exhibit has been installed on a glass-topped table.
Kevin Casey has been upgrading the rigging of the two sat divers and there’s more to come.
The BSAC diver is fully kitted out.
A backdrop of Whitstable Harbour adorns the standard divers exhibit thanks to Ann Bevan.
The two camera cabinets are now fully organised and signage complete with the help of Gavin Anthony.
We are developing a Gosport Corner which will include exhibits about John Deane, Henry Abbinett, RNPL and DTU.
More signage has been added by Ann Bevan.
Margaret Marks is continuing with the development of a timeline of historical diving for the digital picture presentation.
Still to do includes:
Produce a backdrop for the sat divers.
More sat diver rigging.
Manikins and rigging of FGG III kit and Buoyco SubPack Diving bell hub to be installed.
A few 150 cu ft cylinders to add to the displays.
Workers and Quality Control Inspectors today included:
Definite sessions this coming week will be Wednesday 20th, Saturday & Sunday 23rd & 24th. However, we will probably be there most days so if you would like to come along on extra days I suggest you phone me or Ann (023 9260 2260 & 07802 785050) to check, or just check to see if the doors are open.
17 Apr 11 - SDU1 deals with grenade
15 Apr 11 - HMS Bangor plays her part in Exercise Joint Warrior
11 Apr 11
Death of ex-CPO(D) Dave Mitchell
I have been informed of the sad death yesterday of ex-CPO(D) Dave Mitchell. Apparently, he suffered a heart attack during a bell run from DSV Osprey in the North Sea. We extend our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends.
HDS Diving Museum update
"O-Day -18 days!
My apologies for having been tied up with business a bit recently. Fortunately Ann has stepped forward and has been opening up. However, I did manage to show around a party of HDS members visiting from Australia on Thursday. They were most impressed and very complimentary. They will be writing up their visit for their Newsletter.
We are a little hung up awaiting a few last bits to arrive in order to complete the exhibits, but these should all arrive in the next one or two weeks.
The signage is taking up a lot of time. Getting everything technically correct is a laborious process.
There are no huge jobs left to do, just these last few bits.
I'm away in Whitstable opening a Mary Rose/John Deane exhibition on Wednesday, so Ann will be duty key-holder on Wednesday, 13th. I'll be back for opening on Saturday and Sunday, 16th and 17th.
The exhibits are getting to look so smart now that I've been ordered not to send any more pictures out so that you can enjoy the full impact when you call in! We are constantly tweeking and improving the displays.
Don't forget that on opening day, Saturday, 30 April, 0930 - 1100 hrs is open only to you as a Supporter and/or HDS member. After that, the public will be admitted. The plan is for entrance to the Museum to be free of charge up until 18 June (Ceremonial Opening) and there-after, Adults (16 yrs and over) £2.00; Students, Senior Citizens and children (5-15 yrs) £1. Families (2 adults and 2 or more children £5.00. This will be reviewed when appropriate.
We now need to start booking the days when Museum Guides will be able to attend. We are presently planning to open all W/Es until 30 October, plus Bank Holidays. If there is sufficient support, we could also open on a couple of Half-Terms and even during the week on the summer holidays (???).
If you feel able to help in any way, please contact John via this email address or call him on 07802 785050. You don't have to be an HDS member to get involved.
8 Apr 11 - Northern Diving Group deal with suspicious package
The Scottish TV website contains this article and the BBC News website contains this article describing an IED call-out for NDG to deal with a suspicious package that led to the A82 being closed at Milton in West Dunbartonshire on Wednesday.
7 Apr 11 - VIPs see divers in action at Horsea Island
The RN website contains this article describing a visit to Horsea Island by 15 Mayors and Council Chairmen from across Hampshire. It features MCDOA member Mark Savage, CO of the Fleet Diving Squadron (FDS). Former MCDOA Chairman Paul Jones (CO of HMS Excellent) is also prominent in one of the accompanying photos.
Paul Jones inspects the Mayor of Portsmouth's ticket on the
double-decker bus between HMS Excellent and Horsea Island
(RN website photo)
6 Apr 11
HMS Brocklesby helps enforce arms embargo off Libya
Busy time for Northern Diving Group
NDG's Mk 8 Wheelbarrow
(RN website photo)
HMS Cattistock hosts international 'Vascos'
Lt Cdr Adam Northover helps trainee navigators with the
complexities of negotiating the hectic waters of the Solent
(Navy News photo)
3 Apr 11
The attention of members is drawn to the following forthcoming events:
Sat 28 May: MCDOA Ladies Night at Hornet Sailing Club. 1930 for 2000. Calling notice and booking form available in due course but please contact Mick Beale, MCDOA Hon Sec, as soon as possible to register interest so that he can ascertain likely numbers. (NB - This event has since been cancelled owing to the poor response.)
Sat 11 Jun: Joint Summer Barbecue at Horsea Island. Open to all members of the MCDOA, MWA, AORNFCD and RN CD Association. Further details to be promulgated i.d.c.
Sat 11 June: Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal Officers' Club annual spring lunch in the Officers’ Mess, 221 Field Squadron (EOD) (V), Catford. Time: 1230 - 1700. Cost: £30 per head. All MCDOA members welcome. Please contact MCDOA Webmaster for calling notice and booking form.
Refer to Forthcoming Events page for further developments.
Torpedo alert at Peterhead
The aftermath was reported by BBC TV News here.