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

30 Oct 17 - HMS Middleton completes charity endurance event


HMS Middleton (MCM2 Crew 4), one of the four RN MCMVs currently deployed in the Gulf on Operation KIPION, has tweeted this photo with a caption stating that her ship's company has not only smashed the Three Peaks Challenge twice but also managed to climb Mt Everest and cycle Lands End to John O'Groats, all in the sports facility in Bahrain.  The event has helped raise funds for the Fatboys Charity Helping Children with Cancer.



28 Oct 17 - Our President meets Boris


No prizes for guessing the identity of the person with MCDOA President Paddy McAlpine in this recent photo.


27 Oct 17 - HMS Middleton in the Gulf


The Royal Navy website contains this article reporting the clean-up operation performed by ship's company members of HMS Middleton (MCM2 Crew 4) around British war graves in St Christopher's Old Cemetery in Manama, Bahrain.  The article also reports the ship's recent visit to the port of Khawr Khuwayr in RAK (Ras al-Khaimah), the northernmost of the seven emirates which make up the UAE.  She was visited by Sheikh Ahmad bin Saqr al Qasimi, a member of the ruling family and chairman of the economic zone.  The article features AB(MW) Stephen Richardson and AB(D) Sean Esson.


Sheikh Ahmad bin Saqr al Qasimi on board HMS Middleton in RAK

(RN website photo)


26 Oct 17 - John Craig selected for promotion to Captain RN


MCDOA members John Craig and Nick Gwatkin at a NATO MW Conference

in January 2014


Apart from other priorities, your humble webmaster is currently preoccupied with finalising a book about minewarfare in the First World War with co-writer Cdr David Bruhn USN (Rtd).  This has meant temporarily suspending additions to this page although it will be updated retrospectively when circumstances permit.  Nevertheless, I am delighted to publish this announcement received this morning from MCDOA member John Craig:




You may hear of it by other means, but I am finally able to confirm that I will be joining the hallowed ranks of such luminaries as Jim Nisbet, Jason Poole, Chris O’Flaherty, Roger Readwin and Pete Laughton in the MCD OF5 fraternity.  


I am due to take over as the Chief of the Staff (COS) to the Commander UK Maritime Force (COMUKMARFOR) on Tue 21 Nov and, pleasingly, one of my first tasks will be to validate the Mine Warfare Battle Staff the following week.  


While I cannot be certain, I suspect that our branch is as well-represented at OF5 level as it has ever been, which ought to be an encouraging sign for those MCDs starting out in their careers.  


Great news for me – obviously – but also, I hope, an indicator of the strength-in-depth [Apologies – I couldn’t resist the pun!] of the branch.


Yours aye,


John Craig  



Commander Royal Navy

Naval Staff – Head of Strategic Studies"


I am sure all members of our community will join me in congratulating John on his well deserved promotion effective from 21 November.


25 Oct 17 - Interesting article on the likely future of MCM


Readers may find this article on the USNI News website of interest:


Mine Countermeasures Evolving Towards Mix-And-Match Capabilities, Personnel


ANNAPOLIS, Md. — The Navy is trending towards a mix-and-match set of people, platforms and sensors to detect and destroy mines, a departure from the simpler legacy mine countermeasures setup with a single helicopter type and a single wooden-hull ship class, set for replacement by the new Littoral Combat Ship and its neatly defined mission package...


One trend is operating the land-based Expeditionary Mine Countermeasures (ExMCM) Company, which falls under the Explosive Ordnance Disposal community at Navy Expeditionary Combat Command, aboard Navy ships. 


“We’ve taken our ExMCM company with their Mk 18 family of (unmanned underwater vehicle) systems, we’ve put them aboard cruisers and destroyers and had them do extensive rehearsals of the actual operations – and in some cases, in exercises and operations we’ve actually used those platforms,” Capt. Michael Egan, Commander of Task Force 52 within U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, said at the conference.


“We are already working off of amphibious ships, not only the [USS Lewis B. Puller (T-ESB-3)] and the [decommissioned Ponce (AFSB-I-15)] before that, but also the British auxiliaries. We’re not just limiting ourselves to our own ships, we’re working with our allies and our coalition partners and their ships as well.”


Sailors assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 2 and Expeditionary

Mine Countermeasures Company (ExMCM Co.) 202, are lowered into the water during

Mark 16 dive training on 16 Aug 2017

(US Navy photo)


...The captain noted that the British Navy operating in 5th Fleet was eager to support MCM operations off a non-traditional platform.


22 Oct 17 - Lest we forget


Was this the first Royal Navy 'clearance diver'?


AB Robert George TAWN C/JX137109 of HMS Vernon was gazetted on 9 August 1940 for the award of the DSM (Distinguished Service Medal) "for coolness, courage and resource when dealing with a magnetic mine in a tideway".  He had performed the first underwater RMS (Render Mine Safe) attempt on a GC mine in Poole harbour in 42 feet of water from HMS Vernon's echo-sounding yacht 'Esmeralda' on 14 June 1940 although the mine exploded while being towed ashore.


On 14 January 1941, he was gazetted for the award of the BEM (British Empire Medal) "for gallant conduct and devotion to duty".


On 6 March 1941, he was killed at the age of 24 by an exploding mine in Falmouth harbour while manning a boat towed by 'The Mouse', a small motor launch belonging to HMS Vernon which was specially fitted with Hotchkiss propulsion (no propeller).   He is buried in the Commonwealth War Graves part of Falmouth Cemetery.  If anyone would send me a clear image of his headstone via my Webmaster address, I'd be very grateful.


The cemetery should also contain the grave of Ldg Sea Ivan Vincent WHARTON C/JX113809 of HMS Vernon who was killed in the same incident.  Lt Reginald Bruce SUTHERLAND RNVR, also of HMS Vernon, was killed in the same incident while diving.  His body was never found but his name is inscribed on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial.


 Lt J F NICHOLSON RNVR, PO BENHAM plus one other person manning 'The Mouse' survived.


A recovered German GC magnetic ground mine, complete with parachute,

at HMS Vernon during the Second World War


Postscript: Eureka! (With a little help from Tony Sexton and Aggie Dennis.)



Left: AB Tawn's headstone in Falmouth Cemetery

Right: Ldg Sea Wharton's headstone in Falmouth Cemetery


There is no disputing AB Tawn's award of the DSM:


London Gazette entry for AB Tawn's award of the DSM


However, it appears that he has erroneously been credited on his headstone with the MBE whereas he was actually awarded the BEM.


London Gazette entry for AB Tawn's award of the BEM


AB Tawn's record on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website has been amended and now reflects his award of the BEM:


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

commemorative certificate for AB Tawn


21 Oct 17 - Update on SNMCMG2


Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 2 (SNMCMG2), currently commanded by MCDOA member Justin Hains embarked in the survey vessel HMS Enterprise, includes HMS Pembroke (MCM1 Crew 5).  The group finished participating in the French-sponsored Exercise BRILLIANT MARINER 2017 on 13 October (see entry for 3 Oct 17).  SNMCMG2 and HMS Pembroke have posted or tweeted these images.


The French minehunter FS Orion alongside HMS Enterprise during BRILLIANT MARINER



Above and below: Ships in formation, including HMS Diamond, during Exercise BRILLIANT MARINER 2017




Above and below: Ships in formation, including HMS Diamond, during Exercise BRILLIANT MARINER 2017



The group arrived at Vlore in Albania two days ago after visiting Cagliari in Sardinia.



Above and below: HMS Pembroke alongside HMS Enterprise with other units of SNMCMG2

 in Vlore, Albania astern of the Albanian patrol vessel Lisus



20 Oct 17 - SDU1 investigating trawled-up 'torpedo' in Plymouth


The Plymouth Herald website contains this article, including video, reporting that the fishing vessel Admiral Blake brought potentially live ordnance into port resulting in the evacuation of Plymouth Fisheries and the closure of Sutton Harbour.  Members of Plymouth-based Southern Diving Unit 1 (SDU1) attended the incident.


Item trawled-up by fishing vessel Admiral Blake

(Plymouth Herald image)


SDU1 EOD vehicle departing the scene

(Plymouth Herald image)


Postscript: The harbour has now been re-opened.


19 Oct 17 - LS&GC presentation


The Royal Navy website contains this article reporting the presentation of the Long Service & Good Conduct medal to Tony Wallace by Rear Admiral Bob Tarrant, Commander Maritime Operations (COMOPS) at a recent ceremony in Plymouth.  Tony qualified as an MWO in 2005 and later as a PWO.  Among his many other appointments, he underwent initial sea training in HMS Atherstone and served as OPS of HMS Hurworth and HMS Brocklesby as well as XO of HMS Chiddingfold before working in the UK Maritime Component Command (UKMCC) HQ in Bahrain.


RAdm Bob Tarrant presenting LS&GC medal to Tony Wallace

(RN website image)


18 Oct 17 - SDU2 retrieves chemical bombs in Lincolnshire


The Royal Navy website contains this article describing the eight-day operation by members of Portsmouth-based Southern Diving Unit 2 (SDU2) to recover canisters of mustard gas from Stixwould Lake near Woodhall Spa in Lincolnshire (see entry for 9 Oct 17).  The article features PO(D) 'Chuck' Norris.



RN website images




17 Oct 17 - Multinational minewarfare exercise off South Korea


The US Navy website contains this article announcing the start of Multinational Mine Warfare Exercise (MN MIWEX) off the east coast of the Republic of Korea (ROK) on 15 October.  Participating nations for the week-long exercise include Canada, the Philippines, the ROK and the USA.  US units include staff from MCMRON 7, Mine Countermeasures Helicopter Squadron 14 Det. 2A and the Avenger class MCMV USS Chief.


Launch of MNV (Mine Neutralisation Vehicle) by Avenger class MCMV USS WARRIOR

during Exercise FOAL EAGLE off South Korea in March this year

(US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jermaine M. Ralliford/Released)


Prior to the exercise, US Naval Forces Korea and the ROK Navy hosted a three-day MCM symposium in Busan attended by delegates from nine United Nations Command 'Sending States' including Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey and the UK.


16 Oct 17 - Update on book about JIM trials


I am grateful to Richard Castle for this news regarding his forthcoming book about Royal Navy trials of the JIM atmospheric diving suit (see entry for 18 Sep 17 in News Archive 59):


"Hi Rob,


Just to keep you in the picture.....  


Three contacts (as you know) all useful and actually confirming most of what I thought.  All responded to and info passed over.


Bob Lusty of HMS Reclaim sent a letter with info from DHB Ltd which was excellent.  I returned info and a few pics for his amusement.


Always interested if anyone else shows up.


The words are nearly written and the issue is mainly typos, photographs, input from ex-AEDU/RNPL staff and a front cover.  Too late for Christmas so holding for publication in March 2018.


A thanks to you and the website for adding to my knowledge as well as giving me an idea to increase the coverage of these types of joint jobs undertaken by MoD and Navy.  Let me know if I can return the favour at any time.




Richard Castle"


"JIM" demonstrating his ability to assist in

submarine rescue


15 Oct 17 - Funeral of Lt Colin Churcher MBE RN


I am grateful to Ray Clarke, Honorary Secretary of the Aberdeen branch of the Royal Naval Association, for this follow-up to the funeral of MCDOA member Colin Churcher at Baldarroch Chapel and Crematorium near Aberdeen on 6 October (see entry for 5 Oct 17):




Apologies for this somewhat delayed email.  


I trust that you received an update regarding the actual funeral held 1300 Friday 6th Oct.  Unfortunately, but as we had thought, no actual serving uniforms were present.   However, we did what we could to give Lt Churcher the send-off he deserved.  The coffin was dressed with a white ensign, officer's cap, medals and sword.




The RNA provided the six pall bearers in RNA uniform and members of Aberdeen Sea Cadets provided the standard bearer and coffin party.  The padre, the Sea Cadet padre for Scotland and Northern Ireland, Lt Cdr (SCC) Emsley Nimmo and the additional divers' verse was included in 'Eternal Father' as per request.  


We were fortunate perhaps in that the crematorium manager was ex-Army and, knowing what to expect, gave every assistance.   I hope that our debt to Lt Churcher was satisfied.


If I am correct ex-CPO(D) Kevin ‘Ginge’ Reynolds was the chap who travelled up from Rosyth (85 miles) on a motorbike; no mean feat given his years.  A Bravo Zulu there perhaps.  [It wasn't Ginge because he had been on crutches for the previous few days and drove his car.  BZ anyway but does anyone know who rode from Rosyth on his motorcycle?]


Rob, it was a pleasure to have been of assistance both to yourself and to Colin’s family who impressed me with their dignity.  I found Hilda to be a delightful lady.  I had no shortage of volunteers for the funeral party plus Emsley Nimmo and the staff at both the funeral director’s and the crematorium could not do enough.


Yours aye,


Ray Clarke

(Hon Sec Aberdeen Branch RNA)"


I would like to put on record my deep appreciation to Ray Clarke and Emsley Nimmo for their cooperation in arranging a proper send-off for Colin and once more extend our community's sincere condolences to Hilda and the rest of Colin's family.


Lt Colin Churcher MBE RN on CDO

course in 1964


Watch this space for news of a possible obituary in the Daily Telegraph.


From MCDOA member Dougie MacDonald:


"Hello Rob,


Sorry to have been absent.  I'm often in Aberdeen but on this occasion was working in NZ.


I remember Colin as a VM [Victualled Member - aka 'liver-in'] in VERNON; not easy with a northern family.  


Failed to track down [Gordon] Stamp and I understand that [David 'Topsy'] Turner is in Hawaii.  I'll do better next time.




14 Oct 17


LS&GC presentations


Congratulations to MCDOA Chairman-elect Roger Readwin (Captain Mine Warfare & Patrol Vessels, Diving and Fishery Protection (CMFP)) and MCDOA member Bob Hawkins MBE (1st Lt of our new aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth (QNLZ)) on being presented with their Long Service & Good Conduct (LS&GC) medals including two clasps for Bob.



Left: Capt Roger Readwin RN with fellow recipient LET(CIS) S H Patterson

Right: Presenter Cdr Darren Houston (Cdr of QNLZ) with Bob Hawkins



Left: Obverse and reverse of RN LS&GC medal

Right: Bob Hawkins' LS&GC medal with its two clasps


The eligibility regulations were updated on 1 October 2016 to permit the award of the LS&GC medal, previously awarded only to ratings and warrant officers, to all RN officers serving after 29 July 2014 who had achieved at least 15 years of service with no misconduct.  A clasp is awarded for each additional period of 10 years' service with a clear record.


SNMCMG1 visits Belfast


The Belfast Telegraph website contains this article and the ITV News website this article, both including video, describing yesterday's arrival of Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1 (SNMCMG1) in Belfast for a weekend courtesy visit after its participation in Exercise JOINT WARRIOR 17/2


Ships of SNMCMG1 rafted up in Belfast Lough

(NATO website photo)


The group comprises the Latvian coastal minelayer and command ship LVNS Virsaitis, the Estonian minehunter ENS Sakala (formerly HMS Inverness), the German minehunter FGS Sulzbach-Rosenberg; the Norwegian minesweeper HNoMS Rauma, the Belgian minehunter BNS Primula and the Dutch minehunter HNLMS Makkum.


ENS Sakala (formerly HMS Inverness) entering Belfast yesterday

(Belfast Telegraph image)


13 Oct 17 - SDU2 frees torpedo from tanker's anchor


The Royal Navy website contains this article and the Daily Mail website this article describing how members of Portsmouth-based Southern Diving Unit 2 (SDU2) freed a trials torpedo impaled on the fluke of an anchor belonging to the 3,000 ton chemical/oil products tanker Skaw Provider off Portland on Tuesday.  The torpedo was taken out to sea and destroyed.


MV Skaw Provider


The article features Lt Cdr Jonathan Campbell, OIC of SDU2.


The torpedo impaled on Skaw Provider's anchor

(RN website image)


12 Oct 17


Death, funeral and DT obituary of Capt Ian Powe RN


Capt Ian Powe RN died peacefully at St Thomas’ Hospital on 2 September 2017 aged 84. 


As ever, I am grateful to Capt Peter Hore RN for writing this obituary which was published in the Daily Telegraph today.  This is an excerpt:


"On the night of January 14/15 1968 a severe earthquake struck western Sicily, killing several hundred people, injuring many more and leaving 100,000 people homeless.  The Italian government asked for help from the Royal Navy at Malta, where Powe commanded the 7th Mine Countermeasures Squadron (MCMS), consisting of several small Ton-class minesweepers.  Without waiting for orders, Powe loaded his ships with disaster relief stores, medical teams and a small detachment of soldiers, and sailed overnight.


The squadron’s entry next morning to the small port of Trapani was greeted by a violent aftershock which shook the sea and shore, and hundreds of refugees rushed from the town towards the jetty.  Powe restored calm and in liaison with the mayor commandeered a convoy of lorries to take him inland to the Belice valley, where the damage was greatest; they followed debris-strewn roads which had been split and were hanging in ribbons over precipices, through villages which had been flattened or had fallen into the valleys below.  Powe set up a headquarters at Montevago, the soldiers erecting tents for accommodation and a marquee as a field hospital, while Powe’s 40 sailors dug in the rubble and began to repair utilities.  He was joined by 12 Italian Boy Scouts who had been on a camp, and two retired British aid workers from Save the Children who chanced to have retired locally.


The immediate relief effort was hampered by a lack of planning at local level, excessive bureaucracy, a lack of supplies, and a tendency to treat outsiders with suspicion.  After 36 hours soldiers from the Italian army arrived, who placed themselves under Powe’s orders; they brought a searchlight which, when played on a White Ensign which Powe had ordered to be hoisted on the one standing telegraph-pole, brought in hundreds of survivors from the countryside.  For the next week, despite cold weather and several aftershocks which mainly struck at night, Powe oversaw the rescue efforts.  Subsequently the 7th MCMS was awarded the Wilkinson Sword of Peace, while Powe himself was praised by his commander-in-chief for his “initiative and judgment in dealing with the situation, which was not only serious but required considerable tact and understanding”.


The people of Montevago named the main road in the rebuilt town “Via Comandante Powe” and an adjoining road “Via Marina Inglese”, and they invited the Powes to return in 2018 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the earthquake...


...After a deployment in the Far East as first lieutenant of the frigate Londonderry, his was an early promotion to commander when he took command of the minesweeper Walkerton and the 7th MCMS.  In 1969, when Powe’s squadron left Malta, crowds lined the walls of Barrakka heights to wave a sad farewell, the last to go after two centuries of British warships based on the island..."


A private funeral will be followed by a Memorial Service at 1100 on Tuesday 17 October at St Paul’s Knightsbridge, SW1X 8SH.  All are welcome.


Donations, if desired, to Cancer Research UK c/o Chelsea Funeral Directors, 260b Fulham Rd, SW10 9EL. Tel: 020 7352 0008."


The DT obituary can also be viewed on the MCDOA website here: Captain Ian Powe Royal Navy


Capt Ian Powe RN

(17 Oct 1932 - 2 Sep 2017)


SDU1 detonates 25lb shell


The BBC News website contains this article, including video, describing yesterday's disposal, presumably be members of Plymouth-based Southern Diving Unit 1 (SDU1), of a 25 lb shell used as a doorstop at a farm near Bovey Tracey in Devon.



11 Oct 17 - MW course graduation


Congratulations to the AB(MW)s who successfully qualified on the latest course at HMS Collingwood.



10 Oct 17 - HMS Hurworth and HMS Ramsey in JOINT WARRIOR


The Forces TV website contains this article, including a comprehensive video, describing the involvement of HMS Hurworth (MCM2 Crew 5) and HMS Ramsey (MCM1 Crew 4) in this year's second Exercise JOINT WARRIOR off Scotland.  Both ships' crews are due to fly to the Gulf in December to man other minehunters currently based in Bahrain for Operation KIPION.




The Royal Navy has published these images on its Facebook page showing HMS Hurworth recovering a large drill ground mine she detected in a depth of 48 metres while part of a Task Group of three Royal Navy minehunters and three French Navy minehunters during JOINT WARRIOR.  The mine was detected on sonar before being identified with a Sea Fox Mine Disposal vehicle.  Two divers then attached strops to it for recovery by davit.





9 Oct 17 - RN bomb disposal unit called to mustard gas find in Lincolnshire


The Lincolnshire Live website contains this article, including video, dated 6 October and this article dated 10 October reporting the attendance of "a Royal Navy Bomb Disposal Dive Team", presumably members of Portsmouth-based Southern Diving Unit 2 (SDU2), at a lake near Stixwould near Woodhall Spa in Lincolnshire following the initial discovery of cylinders of mustard gas on 1 October.  The operation has also involved an Army bomb disposal unit plus fire & rescue and ambulance services and the Environment Agency.






8 Oct 17 - John Bevan as 'That Infernal Diver' 


MCDOA associate member Dr John Bevan (Chairman of the Historical Diving Society (HDS), founder of the Diving Museum, celebrated author, world record-breaking deep diver and trustee of the Vernon Minewarfare & Diving Monument charity) made a thoroughly convincing John Deane, inventor of the first practical diving helmet, when he performed the role with Lee Players at the Diving Museum on Saturday night (see entry for 23 Sep 17 in News Archive 59).



The Diving Museum in No. 2 Battery at Stokes Bay is run entirely by volunteers.  It will be open 1000 to 1600 at weekends until 29 October when it will close for the winter except by special arrangement.


7 Oct 17 - RN CD Roll of Remembrance


Some time ago, I was asked by the all-ranks Royal Navy Clearance Divers' Association (RNCDA), of which I am member 076 (my LMCDO course year), to help compile a list of deceased RN divers and I have now researched all officers who qualified QDD, CDO and MCDO since October 1944.  This list does not include those engaged in diving and/or EOD before these courses began apart from some war veterans such as the late Peter Roberts VC DSC, 'Uncle Bill' Filer MBE GM and Gordon Gutteridge OBE who were granted 'grandfather rights'.  Most individuals died from natural causes and they appear in order of date of death.  Please advise me of any omissions.


Lt Cdr Ian Dennis McLEAN-FOREMAN (4 Feb 1956)

Cdr Lionel Kenneth Phillip 'Crabby' CRABB OBE GM RNVR (19 Apr 1956) †

Lt Robert Neil HARRISON (16 Apr 1972)

Lt James GRACE (4 May 1972)

Lt Peter Robert PARK (9 Feb 1973)

Lt Sidney William DACOMBE (27 Apr 1973)

Lt Cdr Jack ‘Jackie’ REA MBE (30 Jan 1976)

Lt Cdr Stuart Royston ‘Jazz’ HONOUR MBE (13 Jun 1977)

Sub Lt Albert Henry ROCK (1 Sep 1979)

Lt Cdr Peter Scawen Watkinson ROBERTS VC DSC (8 Dec 1979)

Lt Robert WILSON (5 Sep 1986)

Cdr William Yount ‘Mr Mac’ McLANACHAN MBE BEM RD RN/RNR (16 Nov 1987)

Lt William David BARRINGTON MBE (1 Jun 1989)

Lt Douglas John HILLS (21 Feb 1990)

Lt Cdr Alan ‘Shiner’ WRIGHT MBE (5 Mar 1992)

Lt Arthur Glanville ‘Badger’ OTLEY (26 May 1993)

Lt Frank WALKER (18 Oct 1993)

Lt Cdr Joe BROOKS DSC (1 Sep 1994)

Cdr Karl Grenville LEES (3 Sep 1994)

Lt Christopher John NIVEN (14 Feb 1995)

Lt Alexander Michael Francis PYM (1 Oct 1995)

Lt Cdr Eric Edward GASH (20 Dec 1995)

Lt Cdr Arthur Donald ‘Don’ McLAUCHLAN MBE (8 Jan 1996)

Lt Robert John PAGE (14 Oct 1996)

Cdr Christopher Dutton POTT (20 Nov 1996) †

Lt Kenneth SNOWBALL (22 May 1997)

Lt Cdr John Keith WILSON (6 Apr 1998)

Lt Cdr Simon Alistair Gordon ROSS (13 Jan 1999)

Lt Cdr Henry James ‘Jim’ NEIL (22 Mar 1999)

Lt Cdr James Shermer ACTON (12 Aug 1999) †

Lt Robert PILLING (10 Dec 2000)

Cdr Peter John MESSERVY MBE GM (11 Jan 2001)

Lt Thomas ‘Ned’ KELLY (Sep 2001) †

Cdr Leslie Gordon GUTTERIDGE OBE (26 May 2002)

Lt Cdr Sydney Alfred ‘Jackie’ WARNER MBE DSC (21 Oct 2002)

Lt William Francis Bernard ‘Wilf’ DODD (Feb 2003)

Lt Cdr Harold Alfred BORDER (14 Jan 2004)

Capt Arthur CHECKSFIELD (2 Aug 2004)

Lt Keith Maurice JENKINS (17 Feb 2005)

Cdr John ‘Jack’ BIRKETT OBE RN/RAN (1 Jan 2006)

Lt Charles Leslie ‘Taff’ LAWRENCE MBE (7 Mar 2006)

Lt Cdr David Arthur LAMBERT RN/RAN (10 Aug 2006)

Lt Cdr George Alan ‘Franky’ FRANKLIN RD RN/RNR (19 Sep 2006)

Cdr John PARRY OBE (18 Oct 2006)

Lt Cdr Michael Paynter GRUBB (6 Mar 2007)

Lt George Alan Michael WOOKEY BEM (21 Mar 2007)

Lt Cdr Harry WARDLE (1 Sep 2007)

Lt Terence David O'Neill DIGGES (15 Jun 2008)

Lt Cdr Christopher E BERESFORD-GREEN (22 Nov 2008)

Lt Cdr Alastair Sydney CUTHBERT RN/RAN (17 Jun 2009)

Lt Cdr David ELLIS (30 Jul 2009)

Lt John ‘George’ DANCE (16 Aug 2009)

Lt George Sydney Edward STRATTON (Oct 2009)

Cdr Francis Stanley WARD (26 Dec 2009)

Lt Cdr Mark TERRELL MBE VRD (18 Jan 2011)

Lt Cdr Horace Edward 'Tag' CAISLEY MBE (13 Aug 2011)

Lt Cdr William Brook ‘Bill’ FILER MBE GM (31 Jan 2011)

Cdr Timothy William TROUNSON MBE (25 Dec 2011)

Lt Cdr Neil Laurence MERRICK RNZN/RN MBE (Mar 2012)

Lt Cdr Iain Bruce MACKAY MBE (8 Oct 2012)

Lt Cdr John Chetwode Coston BELCHAMBER (18 Nov 2012)

Lt Cdr Patrick Francis DOWLAND (16 Feb 2013)

Lt Cdr Geoffrey Mortimer Heneage ‘Morty’ DRUMMOND (28 Feb 2013)

Cdr Philip WHITE MBE (later BALINK-WHITE) (5 Jun 2013)

Lt Cdr Stephen WILD (19 Jan 2014)

Lt Cdr Kenneth Douglas KEMPSELL GM (19 Apr 2014)

Lt Cdr Dennis Peter SELWOOD OBE (29 Jan 2014)

Lt Cdr William ‘Bill’ THORNILEY MBE (8 Oct 2014)

Lt Cdr Brian Harold Lithgow BRAIDWOOD (13 Dec 2014)

Lt Cdr James Joseph COOK (31 Aug 2015)

Cdr Timothy Ian HILDESLEY OBE (9 May 2016)

Lt Ian MORTON (16 Nov 2016)

Lt John HENDRICK (9 Jul 2017)

Lt Colin CHURCHER MBE (28 Sep 2017)


Whenever possible, I have reported the deaths of all ranks on this page and these entries survive in the News Archives as far back as 2002.  The RNCDA has trawled names from these for the purposes of the Memorial Garden on Horsea Island (see entry for 7 Oct 16 in News Archive 56) where it is planned to display plaques engraved with the names of deceased RN divers.


It is for consideration that the RANCDA's 'Roll of Remembrance' has a crucifix symbol against the names of those who died while on active service to distinguish them from those who died from natural causes.



I have already published a list of 'Royal Navy Bomb & Mine Disposal Casualties' in the MCDOA website's Branch History section which covers all ranks who died while on active service during the Second World War and since.  I have also supplied DEMS Bicester with names for their memorial wall, as well as some historical information including the recipients of gallantry awards (see entry for 17 May 15 in News Archive 50). 


6 Oct 17 - Minehunter crew rows to help one of its own


Reproduced from the Navy News Facebook group:


Minehunter sailors made it from Portsmouth to Euro Disney and back again inside 48 hours.  Easy! You cry with Eurostar/the tunnel, regular ferries and motorways on both sides of the Channel.  But the 45-strong MCM2 Crew 3 rowed the round trip (plus an extra 100 miles) to send one of their shipmates and his family to the famous entertainment, leisure and holiday complex.



Nine-year-old Ethan John, the son of mine warfare specialist Able Seaman Craig John, was in remission after a battle with thyroid cancer… until he was told at the end of September that the disease had returned. 


Shipmates reacted to Craig and Ethan’s bad news as only shipmates can: by offering to do something.  They settled on a 48-hour non-stop rowathon with the goal of raising £3,000 to send the Johns on a holiday they would never forget.


"The crew phoned me and said they were doing this and I was quite amazed to be honest," said Craig from Swansea, who joined the crew just five months ago.


"The crew’s support has just been amazing, as well as everyone back home. We just weren’t expecting it at all."


He was unable to make the start of the rowing challenge… so cracked out 11 kilometres on the machine at his local gym in Swansea, before heading to Pompey with Ethan to support the later stages of the fundraiser. 


The sailors typically spent around 20 minutes at a time on the machine, covering between four and six kilometres.  Over the 48 hours they were expected to row at least four times that to hit the target. They covered the 720 miles well in time… so kept going, spurred on by Ethan and Craig who came down to Portsmouth to offer their support – and gratitude.



"We heard about Ethan’s diagnosis on a Tuesday and by Thursday I had the whole crew on board to support this fantastic event," said coxswain PO Simon Smyth, who organised the fund-raiser.


"We just knew we needed to do something and it’s been an amazing outpouring of support from the crew, the squadron and RNRM Children’s Trust."


Both the crew and the charity have pledged to continue to help Ethan and his family over the coming months.


If you want to donate in appreciation of their efforts, the bank account is:


Payee: Simon Smyth

Reference: ROW48

Sort code: 11-12-36

Account No: 00034410 


Navy News photos by LPhot Iggy Roberts.


Postscript: The Royal Navy website has published this article covering the same story.



5 Oct 17 - STOP PRESS: Arrangements for the funeral of Lt Colin Churcher MBE RN


The funeral of MCDOA member Colin Churcher will take place at 1300 tomorrow (6 Oct) at Baldarroch Chapel and Crematorium, Crathes, Banchory, Aberdeenshire AB31 5JL (see entry for 29 Sep 17 in News Archive 59).


Unfortunately, I didn't receive his stepson's timely email providing the details for some reason and only learned about it when I was phoned this evening by Ensley Nimmo, the officiating padre.  It will be a proper naval service with all the trimmings including RNA pall bearers and a bugler.  Uncle Bill Filer's verse for divers will be included in the rendition of the naval hymn (Eternal Father).


3 Oct 17 - SNMCMG2 in Exercise BRILLIANT MARINER


MCDOA member Justin Hains took over Command of Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 2 (SNMCMG2), which normally operates in the Mediterranean, at a ceremony on board HMS Victory in Portsmouth in July (see entry for 7 Jul 17 in News Archive 59).


Justin Hains


Apart from Justin's 'flagship', the survey vessel HMS Enterprise, SNMCMG2 currently comprises HMS Pembroke (MCM1 Crew 5), the Italian Gaeta class minehunter ITS Crotone and the Turkish Engin class minehunter TCG Edremit.  During Justin's time in Command, the group has visited ports in Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, Italy and France.


HMS Enterprise alongside in Koper, Slovenia

(NATO website image)



Left: Justin Hains (right) and the XO of HMS Enterprise (left) being welcomed by

 the CO of 430th Naval Division in Ankaran, Slovenia

Right: Justin Hains (second left) and the task group COs being welcomed by

the Mayor of Toulon's representative (Mairie d'honneur) Madame Lombard

(NATO website images)


Early this month, Justin received a visit from Rear Admiral Olivier Lebas of the French Navy who commanded CTF 150 between April and August this year.




The group is currently participating in the French-sponsored Exercise BRILLIANT MARINER 2017 (29 Sep to 13 Oct 2017) which includes 27 ships from Canada, Denmark, France, Greece, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Turkey and the UK supported by maritime patrol and rotary wing aircraft.  It is a Non-Article 5 crisis response operation exercise designed to support the certification of the naval component of the NATO Response Force (NRF) for 2018.


This photo was taken in Toulon before the exercise started and shows HMS Enterprise with her brood on the far side of the third jetty from the bottom.


Participating ships alongside in Toulon at the start of Exercise BRILLIANT MARINER 2017

(NATO website image)


Ships of SNMCMG2 alongside in Toulon at the start of Exercise BRILLIANT MARINER 2017

(NATO website image)


2 Oct 17 - Award of LS&GC and clasps


Congratulations to:


WO(D) Andy Carss QGM on being gazetted for the award of a second clasp to the Long Service & Good Conduct Medal


CPO(D) Richard Walker on being gazetted for the award of the clasp to the Long Service & Good Conduct Medal


CPO(MW) Joe Morton on being gazetted for the award of the Long Service & Good Conduct medal


1 Oct 17 - HMS Challenger model for sale


A nine feet long copper model of the former Seabed Operations Vessel (SOV) HMS Challenger is being advertised for sale on this page of the Trinity Marine website:


Royal Navy Copper QinetiQ Model – HMS Challenger


The model is priced at £3,960 and is described thus:


"Royal Navy Copper Qinetiq Model – HMS Challenger


An incredible example of craftsmanship from the days before 3D modelling, Ex Qinetiq.


Only the Royal Navy could afford to commission these stupendous copper models.  Hand built by an expert team of craftsmen to the exact scale proportions in order to gain the vessels Radar Cross Section, which is the measure of how detectable a vessel is by radar.  Make sure you check out the dimensions as these are huge!



HMS Challenger was a unique vessel in Royal Navy service, purpose built to support deep sea operations and saturation diving.  Built by Scotts at Greenock, the ship was launched on 19 May 1981, but not commissioned until 1984, during a time when the Royal Navy was cutting back on expenditure.  The consequence was that the £80m Challenger was seen as an extravagance that the Admiralty could not afford.  After only a few years service, in 1990 the ship was laid up and offered for sale.  The total cost for the construction of the ship was also increased by various errors and delays during construction.


In 1993 the ship was purchased by a company, Subsea Offshore, to be converted for work decontaminating hazardous waste dumped in the Baltic Sea and North Atlantic.  By 1996 the ship was still laid up and may never been used by Subsea.




107in length, a little under 9ft


2ft high 20in widest


Approx 60 kgs weight."



The former HMS Challenger was last reported as being owned by De Beers and operating as a seabed diamond mining vessel called MV Ya Toivo.





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