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.


31 Mar 20 - Latest tweets

 

Click on the linked dates to see all associated photos and videos.

 

Royal Navy

 

27 Mar 2020 - HMS Grimsby has cleared D-Day leftovers off Seine Bay, Northern France, in a NATO minehunting mission.

 

26 Mar 2020 - Nine Royal Navy ships have shadowed seven Russian ships in UK waters. "As the Armed Forces are helping the NHS save lives in the UK, it’s essential the Navy continues to deliver the tasks we have always performed to help keep Britain safe."

 

HMS Cattistock (MCM2 Crew 6)

 

26 Mar 2020 - Don’t forget us!  CATTISTOCK involved 3 weeks ago!

 

24 Mar 2020 - Exercise JOINT WARRIOR will take place in a significantly reduced form off the coast of Scotland from March 28 to April 10.  Alongside allies from USA, Denmark, Germany & Norway, the UK will conduct vital Submarine & Mine Warfare training.

 

HMS Blyth (MCM1 Crew 2) in the Gulf

 

24 Mar 2020 - Our Senior AB(MW) Jack “Jetski” Rzepecki has been spending his downtime on deployment learning to play the ukulele!

 

 

22 Mar 2020 - Sometimes the old ways are best!  Below, Crew 2’s Captain teaches one of our Young Officers about celestial navigation at twilight.

 

22 Mar 2020 - From gauges to Glocks!  One of our Marine Engineering technicians gains an insight into the world of Force Protection as he fires one of HMS Blyth's 9mm pistols in a routine training serial under the supervision of our Bosun.

 

HMS Cattistock (MCM2 Crew 6)

 

26 Mar 2020 - Who’s that on the horizon?  Fantastic day at sea - exchanging ID’s, CONAV, boat drills and a man overboard exercise.  All in a day's work for MCM2 Crew 6.  Who could ask for better weather?

 

 

HMS Chiddingfold (MCM2 Crew 1)

 

28 Mar 2020 - Ears on the upper deck! Today we took part in the Pompey Chimes in recognition of the spirit of the people of Portsmouth, here and throughout the country.

 

26 Mar 2020 - As the sun rose over HM Naval Base Portsmouth this morning, so did the water around the Ship's hull.  All hands to the pump (literally!) to achieve this.

 

25 Mar 2020 - Despite the challenges of lockdown for much of the nation, it's Chiddingfold's last day in her lockdown as we flood up tomorrow and re-enter the water.  We're fighting through and on track to deploy this summer.

 

 

HMS Grimsby (MCM1 Crew 1)

 

30 Mar 2020 - HMS Grimsby transiting through the Kiel Canal a few weeks ago.

 

29 Mar 2020 - A little late, but here’s HMS Grimsby with SNMCMG1 clapping for those on the front line at home fighting against COVID-19.  Thank you.

 

27 Mar 2020 - Boom!  We’ve been busy this week clearing mines left over from D-day in Seine Bay with our friends from NATO.

 

HMS Hurworth (MCM2 Crew 3)

 

31 Mar 2020 - Nope, it’s not a yellow submarine.  It’s our Emergency [sic] Mine Lifting Bag (EMLB).  Our divers use the EMLB to lift ordnance from the seabed and move it to a safe location for disposal.

 

(EMLB = Enclosed Mine Lifting Bag)

 

31 Mar 2020 - Here we are returning back to Portsmouth after completing our Operational Sea Training.  We had a very successful training period.  The team were praised for their “professionalism and resilience... robust fighting spirit and unit cohesion.”

 

27 Mar 2020 - It’s the Captain’s 10 year wedding anniversary today.  Without the support of our nearest and dearest, we couldn’t do what we do.  Thank you to the families and friends of all the crew!

 

27 Mar 2020 - Here’s the team raising the jackstaff.  It requires a safety harness and nerves of steel.  It also requires a deal of trust in your oppo at the ‘Titanic moment’!

 

27 Mar 2020 - Excellent day for navigation training.  Here’s one of our ‘Young Officers’ (Officer under training) navigating the ship in the Solent.

 

26 Mar 2020 - Another productive day at sea done.  Well, almost done.  After the sun sets, our watchkeepers stay up throughout the night, keeping the ship on task and safe.

 

26 Mar 2020 - Who doesn’t like a slo-mo?  Here’s our 30mm gun in action today.

 

19 Mar 2020 - ‘Hands to Action Stations!’  As an external threat builds we get in the best position to respond by being ‘at action’; with manpower and weapons ready.  We’ve been training at action this week.

 

 

17 Mar 2020 - More of this for us today.

 

HMS Shoreham (MCM1 Crew 4) in the Gulf

 

29 Mar 2020 - HMS Shoreham continues to keep her teeth sharp!  We enjoyed some fantastic weather to keep up our routine gunnery practice at sea this week.  Here you can see the Ship's Company training with Mark 44, Heavy Machine Gun and 30mm cannon.

 

 

NATO Maritime Command

 

26 Mar 2020 - Two of our naval groups (SNMG2 & SNMCMG2) trained together last week in waters just off Crete including performing a mine 'lead through' and signal communication.

 

22 Mar 2020 - Maritime interdiction training with Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group One (SNMCMG1).  An officer from SNMCMG1-Flagship FGS Donau roleplays as a civilian captain.

 

Amy Savage

 

31 Mar 2020 - HMS Grimsby departing HM Naval Base Portsmouth this morning.

 

 

25 Mar 2020 - HMS Cattistock outbound from HM Naval Base Portsmouth.

 

Mark Smith

 

31 Mar 2020 - Safe travels.  HMS Hurworth leaving Portsmouth.

 

HMS Hurworth

 

 31 Mar 2020 - Thanks Mark!  We continue to be at very high readiness for operations.  This week we’ll be conducting more damage control, gunnery, navigation, diving, and mine warfare training.

 


28 Mar 20 - SDU2 deals with ordnance on Southsea beach

 

The Portsmouth News website contains this article, including video, reporting yesterday's detonation of a piece of ordnance on Southsea beach by members of Portsmouth-based Southern Diving Unit 2 (SDU2).

 


27 Mar 20 - HMS Grimsby clears D-Day leftovers in Seine Bay

 

The Royal Navy website contains this article reporting the clearance by HMS Grimsby (MCM1 Crew 1) of wartime ordnance in Seine Bay.  The ship is currently assigned to Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1 (SNMCMG1) alongside flagship FGS Donau, BNS Bellis, HNLMS Willemstad and HNoMS Otra.

 

 

(RN website images)

 

 

This is a chart of mines swept in Seine Bay between 6 June and 31 July 1944.

 


Mines swept in Seine Bay 6 June to 31 July 1944 courtesy of Michael Friend

 

More background in the article titled Operation Neptune: The Minesweeping Operation 5-6 June 1944 by David Verghese in the website's 'Dit Box'.

 


23 Mar 20 - News from COMUKMCMFOR in the Gulf

 

I am grateful to Lt Matt Trounson RN for this update on behalf of COMUKMCMFOR (Commander UK Mine Countermeasures Force) in Bahrain:

 

Mine Warfare is a Complicated Profession…

Lieutenant Matthew Trounson Royal Navy

Battle Watch Captain

Mine Warfare Battle Staff – Red Watch

 

Commander United Kingdom Mine Counter Measures Force (COMUKMCMFOR) forms part of OPERATION KIPION, previously known as the Armilla Patrol in the 1980s and 1990s.  This is the UK’s long-standing commitment to maintaining peace and stability in the Gulf.  One of the key reasons for this is ensuring the safe flow of trade, with 21% of global petroleum liquid consumption[1] transiting through the Strait of Hormuz every day.

 

COMUKMCMFOR, Commander Neil Griffiths RN, holds Tactical Command of the Afloat Forward Support Base (AFSB) RFA CARDIGAN BAY and four UK Mine Counter Measures Vessels (MCMVs), HMS BROCKLESBY, HMS BLYTH, HMS LEDBURY and HMS SHOREHAM, all of which are forward deployed to the region.  The MCMV hulls are maintained in theatre for significant periods by the Fleet Support Unit, while the crews rotate with their UK counterparts.

 

Commander Griffiths and his Mine Warfare Battle Staff, embarked in AFSB, ensure effective command, control and support to the MCMVs.  All a+pects are catered for from logistical and engineering expertise, intelligence and meteorological outputs to the MCMVs, to the Medical Officer providing cover for the entire force.  CARDIGAN BAY herself holds and supplies essntial fuel, stores and provisions which greatly extend the endurance of Mine Countermeasures (MCM) operations.

 

When on task the Battle Staff maintain 24hr operational coverage with its two current operations teams consisting of a Communications Rating, Ops Room Supervisor and Battle Watch Captain. They co-ordinate the MCM effort as directed by the Operations Officer and Operations Room Manager, both holding extensive Mine Warfare experience. 

 

The wealth of capability within the Battle Staff is not limited to UK forces alone.  In the recent annual EXERCISE KHUNJAR HADD (Sharp Dagger) COMUKMCMFOR acted as the Operational Authority for an international Mine Warfare Task Unit comprising UK, US and Omani forces.  The central point of control provided by the Battle Staff allowed for effective co-ordination of assets across a multi-national range of communication systems.  The US Mine Hunting Unit embarked on CARDIGAN BAY utilised remotely operated boats to detect contacts with their advanced sonar before interrogation and counter-mining by the two UK MCMVs.

 

 

 

 

Mine Warfare Battle Staff - Red Watch will remain in theatre for several more months. They will be relieved by White Watch thus maintaining continuous support to the MCMVs and to UK overseas interests.

 

[1] Justine Barden, The Strait of Hormuz is the world's most important oil transit chokepoint, U.S. Energy Information Administration, 2019, (Accessed 12/02/2020)

 


21 Mar 20 - Call-out for SDU2

 

The Dorset Echo website contains this article reporting that members of Portsmouth-based Southern Diving Unit 2 (SDU2) were called to deal with a suspected piece of ordnance found on Purbeck Beach near Swanage today. The military item was declared safe and removed.

 

Swanage Coastguard image

 

Who else identifies it as a respirator (gas mask) filter cartridge?

 


20 Mar 20 - Vernon Monument installed and unveiled

 

 

On 14 March, it was reluctantly decided to cancel the more elaborate unveiling ceremony for the MCDOA-sponsored Vernon Mine Warfare & Diving Monument, long planned for Wednesday 25 March and deftly organised with much effort by former WO(MW) Dixie Dean MBE and MCDOA member Grenville Johnson MBE.  As readers will be aware, the risk to health from Coronavirus has increased dramatically and the Project, like GWQ, are risk averse.  In short there was no point in risking the life of even one of our supporters or our management team or those in GWQ in the face of the undoubtedly increasing threat of COVID-19.  It was also taken into account that a high percentage of the 800 invited to attend the ceremony fell into the definition of "Vulnerable" where the virus is concerned.  Events since this decision have only served to confirm its wisdom.

 

In the meantime, it was still possible to install the monument on Tuesday 17 March (but probably not for much longer) and it is intended to organise a "Dedication Ceremony" at some time in the future when the risk to health has subsided and circumstances are much more favourable.  It might even be next year before it is safe to celebrate together in a more appropriate manner.

 

At 0715 on a bright sunny morning, the monument created by eminent sculptor Mark Richards FRSS, arrived on a low loader trailer at Gunwharf Quays, the former site of HMS VERNON in Portsmouth.  Owing to the light traffic, the journey from the Morris Singer Foundry at Lasham had taken nearly two hours less than expected.

 

 

Much of the rest of the day was spent anchoring the monument's supporting framework to the bottom of Pool B, mounting the sculpture on top and then waiting for the newly cleaned pool to fill with sea water.  Many thanks to sculptor Mark Richards, the team from the Morris Singer Foundry and the hauliers ably assisted by Project supporter Cdr John Ling and Gunwharf Quays operations manager Mike Coulter and his team which included the late CPO(D) Colin 'Icy' Coldwell’s grandson, Lee Davey, plus their helpers, for ensuring things went smoothly.

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to project supporter James Dougill of Arc Sound, live video streams of the day's events, including interviews with some of the key players, were provided via the Project Vernon Facebook group and watched around the world.  They can still be accessed and seen by anyone who missed them:

 

Project Vernon - The Mine Warfare and Diving Monument

 

 

After being introduced by the monument's Project Manager, MCDOA co-founding Chairman David Sandiford, Cdre Jeremy Bailey, Commander of Portsmouth Naval Base, cut the ribbon to unveil the monument in a deliberately low-key ceremony. 

 

 

 

The physical unveiling was performed by members of the Portsmouth-based Fleet Diving Squadron comprising CPO(D) Alex Newnes, LS(D) Michael ‘Dolly’ Parton, AB(D)s Adam Leonard, Connor Whiting, Daniel Mulholland, Thomas Waterhouse and AB(MW) Charles Wood.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Celebratory drinks were then enjoyed in the Old Customs House pub, formerly the Captain's offices in HMS VERNON.

 

 

The following day, information boards were mounted each side of Pool B in which the monument 'floats'.  Many thanks to MCDOA member Geoff Goodwin and the staff of Southsea-based Starfish Creative Design for their production.

 

 

 

 

The information boards provide access to the new Vernon Link website, specially created to describe and illustrate what the Vernon Monument symbolises.  Many thanks to MCDOA member Geoff Goodwin, the University of Portsmouth and a host of other contributors involved in its production.  There is lots to see and read so have a good look around it.  Click on the drop-down menus at the top of the page for lists of sections:

 

Vernon Link -  Linking Gunwharf Quays with HMS Vernon, the Royal Navy, Mine Warfare and Diving

 

Public reaction to the monument has been overwhelmingly positive in social media.  Press coverage includes the following articles but please note that contrary to some reports, the sculpture is a monument, not a memorial:

 

Portsmouth News: Amazing new statue honouring Royal Navy sailors unveiled at Portsmouth's Gunwharf Quays

 

Royal Navy: Divers and Mine Warfare Memorial Unveiled in Portsmouth

 

UK Defence Journal: Vernon Mine Warfare and Diving Monument Unveiled

 

Gunwharf Quays: Vernon Monument

 

A big thank you to all our supporters to date.  As previously stated, it is still intended to hold a formal dedication service when circumstances permit but it is also intended to install lighting to bathe the statue in artificial light at night, which is why fundraising isn’t quite complete yet.  The latest moneyspinner devised by the team is selling bronze statuettes of the monument.  These can be pre-ordered via the Project Vernon website's shop although delivery is presently delayed as they come from China: 

 

www.vernon-monument.org.uk/shop

 


18 Mar 20 - Latest LS&GC Awards

 

Congratulations to LS(D) (now PO(D)) Joe Broadhead on being gazetted for the award of the Naval Long Service & Good Conduct Medal.

 


16 Mar 20 -  Latest tweets

 

Click on the linked dates to see all associated photos and videos.

 

HMS Blyth (MCM1 Crew 2)

 

13 Mar 2020 - HMS BLYTH and HMS SHOREHAM recently visited Kuwait on Commonwealth Day.  British Ambassador to Kuwait Michael Davenport MBE and Major General Khaled Abdullah Commander of the Kuwait Naval Force embarked to discuss ongoing relations between the Royal Navy and Kuwait Naval Force. 

 

13 Mar 2020 - HMS BLYTH and HMS SHOREHAM got down to business with KNS Istiqlal!  A morning of Officer of the Watch Manoevres exercised both nations’ Navies in their tactical manoeuvring in close proximity to one another.

 

8 Mar 2020 - HMS BLYTH Crew 2 has recently been conducting routine Seafox runs in challenging conditions to maintain operational readiness and to prove just how effective our combat systems are.

 

8 Mar 2020 - The HMS BLYTH Team for Operation Kipion 2020.

 

 

8 Mar 2020 - We must always be ready to deal with an emergency on board so the training never stops, even when deployed on operations!  This week, HMS BLYTH conducted a galley fire exercise to hone our skills.

 

HMS Brocklesby (MCM2 Crew 5)

 

12 Mar 2020 - Today I had the pleasure of meeting the Master of a merchant vessel from Foreland Shipping Ltd.  HMS Brocklesby's mine hunting and disposal capability helps keep the sea lines of communication open for such vital shipping.

 

HMS Hurworth (MCM2 Crew 3)

 

13 Mar 2020 - When we’re conducting mine hunting operations in defence watches, the morning watchkeepers are up from 0200-0800.  Watching today’s sunrise was a nice reward!

 

11 Mar 2020 - We use the Seafox system to investigate mine like contacts on the seabed.  Here we are recovering the Seafox remotely operated vehicle, by driving it into the net.

 

10 Mar 2020 - Today, we used our dummy mine to test the effectiveness of our sonar.  Once all checks were complete, we lifted the half tonne mine back out of the water and secured it on board.

 

9 Mar 2020 - Started the new week with a bit of buoy work - this is where we moor the ship to a buoy.  Big metal rings, slippery buoy, ship close in, and ropes under tension.  Seamanship at it’s best!

 

7 Mar 2020 - ‘How do you get all your food on board?’ I hear you ask...  Here’s how.

 

6 Mar 2020 - A little later than usual, but here are the ‘Sailors of the Month’ for February.  These two outstanding sailors have been instrumental to our success in the first few weeks of OST.

 

4 Mar 2020 - Apparently it’s World Maths Day.   Our navigating officer does lots of mental maths as he navigates in/out of harbour by taking bearings of charted objects.

 

2 Mar 2020 - ‘Officer of the Watch Manoeuvres’ are where we manoeuvre the ship in close company with another.  Here we are with HMS PENZANCE.  It takes good communication and coordination to get it right!

 

 

1 Mar 2020 - More prep for the week ahead.  Prior to getting underway we conduct a set of Standard Operator Checks (SOCs) to make sure all of our systems and equipment are functioning correctly.

 

HMS Middleton (MCM2 Crew 8)

 

12 Mar 2020 - HMS MIDDLETON and MCM2 are pleased to say they raised over £220 for RNRMC during their charity golf day.

 

5 Mar 2020 - Congratulations to Tom and Shawn from BAeS Maritime, the winners of the inaugural MCM2 Charity Golf event.  It was a very wet and windy afternoon raising money for RNRMC. Thanks to Simon Bodmin Cox [MCM2] for presenting the awards.

 

HMS Pembroke (MCM1 Crew 5)

 

1 Mar 2020 - Dydd Gŵyl Dewi hapus to all of our followers in Wales, and especially to those in Pembrokeshire.  We’re proud to be linked to such a fantastic part of our country and look forward to visiting again soon.

 

HMS Shoreham (MCM1 Crew 4)

 

14 Mar 2020 - HMS SHOREHAM and HMS BLYTH recently visited Ra's Al Qulay'ah in Kuwait.  We were especially proud to welcome Maj Gen Khaled Abdullah, Commander Kuwaiti Naval Force, and the British Ambassador to Kuwiay Michael Davenport MBE on board.

 

 

14 Mar 2020 - HMS SHOREHAM and HMS BLYTH were privileged to visit Kuwait Naval Base in Ra's Al Qulay'ah, to conduct training with our friends from the Kuwait Naval Force.  A great opportunity to compare tactics with allies in the region.

 

UK in Kuwait

 

13 Mar 2020 - Mine hunters HMS SHOREHAM and HMS BLYTH visited Kuwait last week.  They were part of an international force to keep the region's sea lanes safe.  Michael Davenport visited the ship's at the Naval base and met representatives of the British and Kuwaiti navies.

 

Simon Cox (Cdr Second MCM Squadron)

 

10 Mar 2020 - As we approach VE Day 75 please help publicise these fantastic Royal Navy sailors from Crew 4 of the 2nd MCM Squadron and their planned 600 mile Western Front Way Challenge.  More to follow...

 


15 Mar 20 - Cancellation of Vernon Monument Unveiling Ceremony

 

 

Owing to the dramitically increasing risk to health from COVID-19, the Project's management has reluctantly decided to cancel the planned unveiling of the Vernon Mine Warfare & Diving Monument at Gunwharf Quays on 25 March and has released the following announcement.

 

"Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

This is a further announcement on behalf of the Project Vernon trustees and management team.

 

As the result of a meeting yesterday 14 March between David Sandiford (the Vernon Monument’s Project Manager) and Sean Sweeney MBE (Gunwharf Quays Centre Manager and a trustee of Project Vernon), it has been decided to cancel the unveiling ceremony for the Vernon Mine Warfare & Diving Monument planned for 25 March 2020.  It is fair to say that both VMP and GWQ went into the meeting with a broadly similar view, that the event has to be cancelled.

 

We know this will bring widespread disappointment but the alternative does not bear thinking about.  As you will be aware, the Coronavirus is spreading and we, like GWQ, are risk averse.  In short there is no point in risking the life of even one of our supporters or our management team or those in GWQ in the face of the undoubtedly increasing threat of COVID-19.

 

We have taken into account the fact that a high percentage of those invited to attend the ceremony fall into the definition of "Vulnerable" where the virus is concerned.  An email was sent yesterday to all trustees and members of the management team and, unsurprisingly, there was unanimous support for this action.

 

It is still intended to install the monument next week but leave it shrouded and, after some time for final work, to take the covers off.  The current plan is that the monument will be on show from next month in its designated site for all to see - virus permitting.  A further announcement will be made once this has been done.

 

It is intended to organise a "Dedication Ceremony" at some time in the future but until it is known what is likely to happen with the virus, the team can't even begin to guess when that will be.  It might even be next year.

 

So - let's get the monument in and let's get it on display but let's celebrate doing that together at a safer time in the future.

 

On behalf of

The Trustees and Management Committee

The Vernon Mine Warfare and Diving Monument"

 

Despite the destructive effect of Coronavirus on the unveiling ceremony, the good news is that the Vernon Mine Warfare & Diving Monument is now fully assembled and the green-black patination process has begun.  It is still on track to be installed at Gunwharf Quays later this month.

 

 

This photo shows CPO(D) Alex Newnes (Fleet Diving Squadron HQ), AB(D) Dan Mulholland (Fleet Diving Unit 2), LS(D) Adam Coates (Fleet Diving Squadron HQ), sculptor Mark Richards and MCDOA member Cat Ker (CSO to MCM2) during yesterday's visit to the Morris Singer Foundry at Lasham in Hampshire.

 

 

 

 


13 Mar 20 - Robot minehunter spotted in Portsmouth

 

The Portsmouth News website contains this article reporting the appearance of the Thales autonomous boat 'Apollo' in Portsmouth harbour.

 

The article features former MCDO John Hunnibell who is quoted as saying:

 

"Thales Maritime Mine Countermeasures is the first of kind system of systems capable of detecting, classifying and disposing of mines and bombs at sea, without ever having a human operator anywhere within a naval minefield."

 


11 Mar 20 - Call-out for SDU1 in Cornwall

 

The Cornwall Live website contains this article reporting a call-out today for members of Plymouth-based Southern Diving Unit 1 (SDU1) to deal with a suspected unexploded device unearthed by workmen in Truro.  The item transpired to be a piece of scrap metal.

 

 


9 Mar 20 - Daily Telegraph obituary for Dr John Bevan

 

As on so many previous occasions, I am grateful to Capt Peter Hore RN for having this obituary for the late MCDOA associate member John Bevan published in today's Telegraph (see entry for 1 Feb 20).

 

 

Over the years, Peter has been extremely cooperative in writing tributes to members of our relatively small community for publication in the Daily Telegraph.  Other examples have included (in alphabetical order):

 

CPO(D) Stephen 'Darby' Allan

 

Cdr Philip Arthur Balink-White MBE RN

 

Lt Cdr John Bridge GC GM* RN

 

Lt Noel Cashford MBE RNVR

 

Lt Cdr Peter Cobby BEM RN

 

Lt Cdr Brian Dutton DSO QGM RN

 

Lt Cdr 'Uncle Bill' Filer GM MBE RN

 

Lt Cdr Ian Fraser VC DSC RD* RNR

 

Surgeon Vice Admiral Sir John 'Jab' Harrison

 

Val Hempleman

 

Ldg Sea Sydney Knowles BEM

 

Lt Cdr Bruce Mackay RN

 

Cdr Peter Messervy GM MBE RN

 

Capt Ian Powe RN

 

Surgeon Vice Admiral Sir John 'Doc' Rawlins KBE, FRCP, FRAeS

 

Lt Cdr 'Robbie' Robinson MBE RN

 

Lt Arthur 'Bubs' Russell MBE RNVR

 

Lt Cdr Dennis Selwood OBE RN

 

Lt Cdr Harry Wardle RN

 

Lt George Wookey MBE RN 

 

Lt Eric Worsley GM MBE RNVR

 


5 Mar 20 - HMS Grimsby finds 18 bombs and mines off Oslo

 

The Royal Navy website contains this article reporting that HMS Grimsby (MCM1 Crew 1), currently assigned to Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1 (SNMCMG1), has located 15 British air-dropped mines, plus three British bombs, during a two-week operation in Oslofjord, Norway.  The inlet was heavily mined and bombers dumped their payloads into the fjord during the German occupation of Norway in the Second World War.

 

 

Above and below: HMS Grimsby with BNS Bellis

(RN website photos)

 

 

 

Above and below (left to right): HNLMS Willemstad, BNS Bellis, FGS Donau, HMS Grimsby

and HNoMS Otra rafted up together

(RN website photos)

 

 


4 Mar 20 - Vernon Monument casting update

 

 

This is the latest view of the casting and assembly of the MCDOA-sponsored Vernon Mine Warfare & Diving Monument at the Morris Singer foundry at Lasham in Hampshire courtesy of sculptor Mark Richards FRSS.  It's looking more like the artist's impression of the finished article with each day. 

 

 

The latest Project Vernon newsletter is available here and an erratum & addendum has since been published here.

 


3 Mar 20 - Mine Warfare job offer in UAE

 

MCDOA member Charlie Wilson OBE has sent me this request:

 

"Hi Rob,

 

I have been contacted by a Maritime Tech company based in Abu Dhabi, UAE.  They are looking for an instructor for the UAE Navy who can teach MW, MCM, hands on equipment training, MINTACS and a “train the trainer” course.  Not something for me but I said I would ask around.  

 

Any thoughts on who might be interested or which network to use?

 

Yours aye,

 

Charlie"

 

If interested, contact me via my Webmaster email address and I will put you in touch with Charlie.

 


2 Mar 20 - Gentlemen Who Lunch

 

Martyn Holloway and your humble Webmaster (Rob Hoole), members of the MCDOA's 'Not Quite the Last of the Summer Wine' trio, had the privilege of hosting civil engineering diving officer Lt Cdr Paulstephen Chierico USN today for a beer and a bite in the Royal Oak at Langstone.

 

 

We then took Paulstephen to the Historical Diving Society's museum at Stokes Bay where former WO(D) John Dadd BEM showed him around the exhibits in his inimitable story-telling fashion.  The museum doesn't open to the public for the summer season until next month so many thanks to John for making it available especially for us.  Paulstephen lives in Maryland and is visiting the UK as a delegate at the Underwater Defence and Security conference starting tomorrow at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is terribly tragic that the museum's founder and prime mover, MCDOA associate member Dr John Bevan, was taken so early (see entry for 21 Feb 20) when he had so much more to give.

 


1 Mar 20 - Vernon Monument casting update

 

 

Don't get a crick in your neck but this is the latest photo, released last week, of the casting and assembly of the MCDOA-sponsored Vernon Mine Warfare & Diving Monument at the Morris Singer foundry at Lasham in Hampshire (see entry for 18 Feb 20).  The fellow in the background is Simon Plail who is responsible for assembling the elements so you can't see the join.  The finished product will have a green-black patina.

 

 

Coronavirus permitting, the one-and-a-quarter life-size bronze sculpture will be unveiled and dedicated at a ceremony in Gunwharf Quays, the site previously occupied by HMS Vernon, on Wednesday 25 March.  As announced here and elsewhere, the deadline for applications to attend the ceremony and reception in the reserved area expired on 31 December but events can still be witnessed from the public area.

 

Our various contributions to date have paid for the statue but we need to keep the pennies rolling in to cover the unveiling ceremony, maintenance, insurance, lighting, signage and clever facilities to tell the full story of what it represents (we even have Portsmouth University on the case).  Make a direct donation here or purchase merchandise via the Project's online shop.  Another good way to donate is to buy PV tickets for the Portsmouth Lottery for as little as £1 per week.  The Project receives at least half the income:

 


29 Feb 20 - Latest tweets

 

Click on the linked dates to see all associated photos and videos.

 

Royal Navy

 

28 Feb 2020 -  Four ships and more than 200 sailors led Britain’s involvement in an international test of sea power in the Middle East, joining French and US naval forces who accepted the invite from the Omanis for the annual workout – Khunjar Hadd, ‘Sharp Dagger’.

 

 

Royal Navy Sport

 

21 Feb 2020 - Great to see HMS Cattistock and HMS Chiddingfold conducting a multi-activity week consisting of climbing & mountain biking.  These AT & Challenging Activity multi-activity weeks are designed to enhance the physical and mental wellbeing of service personnel.

 

 

(Screen captures from video)

 

 

HMS BLYTH (MCM1 Crew 2)

 

25 Feb 2020 - Crew 2 arrives in theatre with a BANG for our Kipion deployment!  We’ve been proving our capability and readiness by exercising our force protection teams

 

 

HMS BROCKLESBY (MCM2 Crew 5)

 

27 Feb 2020 - After a challenging but rewarding exercise, superbly run by the Royal Navy of Oman, HMS Brocklesby and HMS Ledbury have some well-earned rest in Muscat and a chance to see more of this magnificent country.

 

 

HMS CATTISTOCK (MCM2 Crew 6)

 

27 Feb 2020 - Happy Birthday to our CO today.  And thank you to the chefs for this golf-related cake!  Good morning for the squadron bish to come onboard

 

 

HMS CHIDDINGFOLD (MCM2 Crew 1)

 

21 Feb 2020 - Cruising into the weekend like... 

 

 

HMS HURWORTH (MCM2 Crew 3)

 

29 Feb 2020 - Saturday morning = Table Top Tactics.  Talking through next week’s planned exercises takes time, but is always worth the effort to give the team the best chance of success!

 

 

28 Feb 2020 - Here’s a quick video from our visit to Belfast.

 

Armed Forces in Northern Ireland

 

28 Feb 2020 - They brought the sun with them but depart on a wet and miserable day.  We bid a fond farewell to HMS Hurworth who returns to Faslane to complete her training, after a successful visit to Belfast.  Link to meet the Captain and see the ship:

 

www.facebook.com/watch/?v=1537777756391439.

 

28 Feb 2020 - Last night we hosted a reception for 25 VIPs.  Guests enjoyed a ship's tour which offered an insight into the role and capability of our ship.

 

Chris Hagan

 

26 Feb 2020 - New arrival in Belfast this morning, a Royal Navy mine hunter.

 

HMS Hurworth entering Belfast

 

26 Feb 2020 - Yesterday, we conducted a man overboard exercise near this famous rock.  Did you know? - Ailsa Craig was formed from the plug of an extinct - Granite from the island was quarried to make curling stones.

 

26 Feb 2020 - Happy Pancake Day / Shrove Tuesday from all of us in Hurworth!  Hope it’s been a flippin good one.

 

20 Feb 2020 - Our force protection teams are conducting training in how to search for and detain an intruder in the ship.  Textbook stuff this.

 

19 Feb 2020 - Every day’s a school day in the RN!  After our early morning (0500!) fire exercise, we were back at sea this afternoon to do some basic sea safety drills, all under the eyes of the FOST experts.

 

HMS SHOREHAM (MCM1 Crew 4)

 

17 Feb 2020 - HMS Shoreham were narrowly defeated this week by HMS Brocklesby in the first football match of their 7-month deployment.  Bring on the re-match!

 

 

MASTT (Maritime Autonomous Systems Trials Team commanded by MCDOA member Dave Stanbury)

 

28 Feb 2020 - 18 months of planning and action comes to an end.  MASTT make the final checks to ensure the safe and secure return of the RN Sweep equipment to the UK.  The coordination and activities to ensure the success of the Cold Wx Trials has been nothing short of epic!

 

28 Feb 2020 - Video only.

 

20 Feb 2020 - The Team.  The sum of its parts, without it, we achieve nothing.  MASTT have worked hard over the last 4 wks, in some extreme weather conditions (-22C), with plenty of banter and always with a smile.  It has been frustrating at times, but we are proud of what MASTT have achieved!

 

 

Simon Cox (Cdr 2nd MCM Sqn)

 

25 Feb 2020 - HMS Cattistock and HMS Puncher share a ‘suck of gas’ this morning. The team works.

 

 

Navy Lookout

 

27 Feb 2020 - More seriously… The RN's Minehunters are due to leave service in the early 2030s.  Although the Navy believed that this capability needed to be addressed in the 2019–2029 Plan, it has no funds to extend or replace this equipment.

 

21 Feb 2020 - HMS Chiddingfold in Number 11 Dry dock in Portsmouth - being readied to return to the Gulf.

 

16 Feb 2020 - Drifting sea mines reported in coastal waters of the Red Sea between Midi, Yemen and Jizan, Saudi Arabia. Probably laid by Houthi rebels.

 

16 Feb 2020 - HMS Grimsby [MCM1 Crew 1] in the Kiel Canal heading onto the Baltic from Kiel, Germany yesterday (Currently serving with NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1).

 

 


28 Feb 20 - Minewarfare forces sharpen skills in Omani exercise

 

The Royal Navy website contains this article reporting the participation of Royal Navy, French and US naval forces in the Omani Exercise KHUNJAR HADD (Arabic for ‘Sharp Dagger’).  RN forces include HMS Brocklesby (MCM2 Crew 5), HMS Ledbury (2/7) and HMS Shoreham (1/4) supported by RFA Cardigan Bay.  All RN website photos by LPhot Rory Arnold.

 

 

 

 

2020 marks the 25th anniversary of the annual exercise which this year focused on the ability of the four nations to keep sea lanes open with the added spice of some board and search training.

 

Postscript: The Portsmouth News published this article, reporting the same story, on 2 March 2020.

 


27 Feb 20 - MWA Southern Area Dit Session

 

A hugely enjoyable Mine Warfare Association (MWA) southern area monthly 'Dit Session' was held at the Red Lion Hotel in Cosham this evening.  Attendees included MCDOA/MWA joint-members Rob Hoole, Bill Kerr, David Sandiford and George Turnbull plus Kevin Aston, Gordon Neil, Peter 'Taff' Reader, Sean Slee and Peter Whitehead,

 

 

We even managed a short live video stream to the Association's FB page but the best bit was putting John 'George' Turnbull, who played the Archangel Gabriel in HMS VERNON's 1980s production of 'Follow That Star', in touch with New Zealand resident Malcolm Fewtrell (currently visiting the UK) who played Herod in the same play. They exchanged a few pleasantries online via FB Messenger.

 


25 Feb 20 - France honours 102 year-old minesweeper veteran

 

The Royal Navy website contains this article reporting that 102 year-old Dennis Roy Cooper, who was engaged in minesweeping operations between Sword Beach and the Cotentin Peninsula during the Normandy landings, has been presented with the French Legion d'Honneur in an official ceremony at Blandford Camp, near his home in Marnhull, Dorset.

 

Dennis Roy Cooper

(RN website photo)

 


23 Feb 20 - NDG deals with pyro at Gourock

 

The Inverclyde Now website contains this article reporting the disposal by members of Faslane-based Northern Diving Group (NDG) of a submarine flare found on the beach at Gourock in the Firth of Clyde on 19 February.

 


22 Feb 20 - Technological leap for Australian MCM

 

The Royal Australian Navy's website contains this article describing the introduction of a deployable Mine Counter-Measures (MCM) capability under Project SEA 1778.

 

Deployment of RAN Bluefin 9 AUV from MCMSB

(RAN website photo)

 


21 Feb 20 - Funeral of Dr John Bevan

 

It was standing room only in Holy Trinity Church in Gosport today for the colourful funeral of John Bevan (see entry for 8 Feb 20).  MCDOA members present included Gavin Anthony, Paul Guiver, Rob Hoole, Julian Malec, Ralph Mavin and David Sandiford.  There was only a mild religious flavour to the Welsh-orientated service and Ann Bevan's witty eulogy was particularly poignant, being simultaneously dignified, infomative, humorous and entertaining.  We extend our deep condolences to Ann and her immediate family at this difficult time.

 

Click on the image below for the full Order of Service.  Note especially the significance of Holy Trinity Church as that used by John Deane, the inventor of the first practical diving helmet about whom John wrote his seminal work, The Infernal Diver.

 

Order of Service for the funeral of Dr John Bevan

(Click to download in PDF format)

 

In line with John's last wishes, the MCDOA is making a donation to his brainchild, the Historical Diving Society's museum in Stokes Bay, in lieu of a floral tribute.  One of John's final triumphs (with a little help from his friends) was the acquisition of the Deane helmet as the museum's crowning glory (see second entry for 7 Apr 17 in News Archive 58).

 

Postscript: John Bevan was featured in BBC Radio 4's obituary programme 'Last Word' on 28 February.  Listen from minute 22:12:

 

www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000fq4p

 


20 Feb 20 - Invitations for Vernon Monument unveiling ceremony on their way

 

 

As announced on this website, the Project Vernon website and Facebook group, and on various association websites and Facebook groups, the deadline for applications to attend the the official unveiling and dedication of the MCDOA-sponsored Vernon Mine Warfare & Diving Monument at Gunwharf Quays on Wednesday 25 March expired on 31 December 2019.  Today, a team of Project Vernon volunteers comprising MCDOA members Geoff Goodwin, Martyn Holloway and his wife Ann, Rob Hoole, Grenville Johnson, PV Project Manager David Sandiford and his wife Pauline, John 'George' Turnbull and Colin Welborn plus Colin 'Scouse' Kidman QGM and John Ling, has been busy in Southsea today stuffing and addressing circa 800 envelopes containing invitations, leaflets and guidance notes.  A glossy souvenir brochure will be issued on the day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The invitations are now winging their way to successful applicants with those for addressees in the Portsmouth area already delivered by hand, thus saving the Project the cost of postage.  The other invitations are being sent to a courier service for onward despatch.  Although invitation holders will be entitled to watch proceedings from the covered reserved area and attend the ensuing reception, those without invitations will still be able to enjoy the ceremony from the public viewing area.

 

A huge thank you to Dixie Dean MBE for his initial work in gathering names and compiling the invitation list.  Thanks also to MCDOA member Phil Ireland DSC of Serco for having the invitations and brochures printed and to Mike Coulter of Gunwharf Quays for having the leaflets printed, all at no cost to the Project.  

 


19 Feb 20

 

Latest LS&GC awards

 

 

Congratulations to LS(MW) L. Roberts on being gazetted for the award of the Naval Long Service and Good Conduct Medal.

 


SDU1 called out to suspected ordnance unearthed in Plymouth

 

The Plymouth Herald website contains this article reporting that members of Plymouth-based Southern Diving Unit 1 (SDU1) dealt with an item of suspected ordance dug up in a garden in Plymouth yesterday.  The item transpired to be the end cap of a piece of household piping.

 


18 Feb 20 - Vernon Monument casting update

 

 

A small team of volunteers from the MCDOA-sponsored Project Vernon, comprising Project Manager David Sandiford, Graham Wheatley and Yours Truly (general dogsbody Rob Hoole), visited the Morris Singer foundry at Lasham in Hampshire today to check out the latest progress on the casting of the one-and-a-quarter life-size bronze Vernon Mine Warfare & Diving Monument due to be unveiled at Gunwharf Quays, the former site of HMS VERNON, on 25 March.  The finished product will have a green-black patina applied.

 

 

 

 

This is Simon Plail, responsible for assembling the elements so you can't see the join.  As he is demonstrating, the finished product is pretty robust.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The half life-size 'marked up' reference model.  The finished article will be one-and-a-quarter

life-size, i.e. almost twice the volume of the real thing

 

Heare are sculptor Mark Richards FRSS and Morris Singer Director John Berelowitz flanking PV Project Manager David Sandiford who is holding a prototype of the bronze statuette available to order via the Vernon Monument website's online shop.  Regrettably, supply of the approved version has been delayed by the outbreak of Coronavirus in China.

 

PV Project Manager David Sandiford flanked by sculptor Mark Richards FRSS

and Morris Singer Foundry Director John Berelowitz

 

 

We left feeling mightily impressed.  Although we have paid for the statue, funds are still required to cover the cost of the unveiling ceremony, maintenance, insurance, underwater lighting, signage and a clever facility to educate the public about what the monument represents including a brand new website (even Portsmouth University is involved in this).  Donate direct via www.vernon-monument.org.uk/donate or purchase merchandise via www.vernon-monument.org.uk/shop.  Keep those pennies rolling in.  

 


16 Feb 20 - Increased mine threat in Red Sea

 

The Maritime Executive website contains this article reporting the existence of floating mines in coastal waters of the Red Sea between Midi, Yemen and Jizan, Saudi Arabia.  Houthi rebel forces are known to use naval mines to target Saudi-allied vessels off the southern coast of Yemen; without commenting on the origin of the devices.  The US Maritime Administration (MARAD) has reported that the mines may have drifted north following a seasonal change in the direction of currents. 

 

Houthi floating sea mine previously deployed off Yemen

 


15 Feb 20 - Latest tweets

 

Click on the linked dates to see all associated photos and videos.  

 

COMUKMCMFOR (Commander UK MCM Force in the Gulf)

 

15 Feb 2020 - The US Mine Hunting Unit is at the forefront of its field and by sharing her expertise with our MCMVs we drive each other on to bigger and better things.

 

14 Feb 2020 - We are more than the sum of our parts.  Our Australian Navy Executive Officer took charge of this morning’s scenario involving HMS Ledbury, RFA Cardigan Bay and UKMCMFOR.

 

14 Feb 2020 - Re-supplied and ready to go, our MCMVs may be small but they pack a punch!  The ability for our units to share supplies, personnel and knowledge is key to the EX KH 25 task group’s success.

 

13 Feb 2020 - Asset interoperability is key to our success as a team here.  Here RFA Headquarters are ready to re-supply HMS Ledbury for her next phase of EX Khunjar Hadd.

 

12 Feb 2020 - Our multinational convoy holding station ready for another iteration of the regular EX Khunjar Hadd with the Royal Navy of Oman.

 

 

HMS BROCKLESBY (MCM2 Crew 5)

 

14 Feb 2020 - Though Royal Navy warships are filled with cutting edge technology some of the oldest equipment onboard is still used on a daily basis for safety and navigation.

 

13 Feb 2020 - RN personnel will work around the clock to ensure that our equipment is ready for use.  HMS Brocklesby’s role in this exercise is to neutralise dummy mines to ensure sea lines of communication remain clear.

 

12 Feb 2020 - HMS Brocklesby is participating in the Joint Exercise Khunjar Hadd.  This is an excellent opportunity for us to work together in support of Maritime security.

 

5 Feb 2020 - HMS BROCKLESBY'S Leading Chef prepares a meal for 46, hundreds of miles from land in a kitchen that moves with the waves.

 

 

HMS HURWORTH (MCM2 Crew 3)

 

12 Feb 2020 - Our ‘Batman’ doesn’t wear a cape!  By using these bats he guides the dive boat into the correct position for diving.

 

12 Feb 2020 - Anchor lost and found.  Today we had the privilege of helping our Dutch colleagues by locating and marking HNLMS Rotterdam’s anchor and cable that was lost overboard.  Their professionalism ensured no injuries.

 

11 Feb 2020 - Safely departed from Portsmouth this morning.  The ship is secured and ready for sea state 7.

 

 

6 Feb 2020 - Food is so important for morale. Our chefs are experts at providing an excellent service.  Today we had roast baps for lunch.  Top nosh!

 

5 Feb 2020 - These three individuals have made an outstanding contribution to the success of the crew throughout the last 6 months.  Today they received the RNRMC Herbert Lott Efficiency Award in recognition of their efforts.  Well done chaps!

 

HMS MIDDLETON (MCM2 Crew 8)

 

10 Feb 2020 - Members of Crew 8 had a fantastic week of skiing and adventurous training last week at Navy Outdoor Centre Germany, alongside members of MCM1 Crew 7 from HMS Bangor.  From never putting on skis to confidently skiing red runs in 4 days.

 

 

HMS RAMSEY (MCM1 Crew 2)

 

17 Feb 2020 - HMS RAMSEY was able to host a families day - a special day of memories for Crew and families recently separated by deployment.  The children enjoyed the medals recognising how well they dealt with separation supplied by the RNRMC.

 

 

HMS MONTROSE

 

11 Feb 2020 - HMS Montrose on routine operations in the Gulf with Royal Navy mine countermeasures vessels HMS BLYTH, HMS BROCKLESBY, HMS LEDBURY and HMS SHOREHAM.

 

 

RFA CARDIGAN BAY

 

10 Feb 2020 - RFA Cardigan Bay recently conducted Officer of the Watch manoeuvres with US 5th Fleet MCMVs USS Devastator and USS Dextrous just before sunset. The  weather and sea state were ideal.

 

6 Feb 2020 - RFA Cardigan Bay recently conducted Rafting Operations with US 5th Fleet MCMVs USS Devastator and USS Dextrous.  The weather and sea state were ideal for these evolutions – the first conducted between the coalition allies in over two years.

 

 

MASTT (Maritime Autonomous Systems Trials Team commanded by MCDOA member Dave Stanbury)

 

14 Feb 2020 - “Recover Sweep!”  At the end of each day of Trials, the team go through at least an hour to two hours of de-rigging (Configuration dependant).  All while the AEUK FSE and MASTT LET get to work on investigating a mechanical defect with the USV.

 

12 Feb 2020 - “Do you wanna build a snowman?”  When life gives you lemons, make a snowman, for morale!  With potatoes and carrot supplied by the Cdr of the CCG Vessel, Cape Roger (along with music), the team took no time at all, to produce the masterpiece.

 

 

11 Feb 2020 - Out with the old and in with the new.  MASTT's loan LET(ME), from MSU, is on the case of a burnt out windscreen wiper motor in our loaned Combat Support Boat.  Luckily a local ship’s chandlers had the exact motor, even in Canada.

 

8 Feb 2020 - Different examples of the yo-yo weather that MASTT are experiencing in Halifax. Despite the changes in air temperatures the sea temperature remains constant and we can make an assessment of the suitability of the equipment in cold weather.

 

7 Feb 2020 - MASTT say farewell to our Ex-CBM, who leaves the team to return to sea.  Fair winds and following seas LS(MW), (Centre of the photo).  MASTT will remain in Halifax NS, to continue with RN Sweep Cold Weather Trials.

 

7 Feb 2020 - Deploying the Magnetic Electrode Cables for today’s configuration on the final day of Set to Work.  It’s a full team effort to deploy the equipment, for the 14 personnel on the ground and at sea in the USV and CSB.  The Team stand down and rotate personnel when running missions.

 

 

7 Feb 2020 - Freezing Rain is a new phenomena for the MAST Team, but common for Halifax NS.  Between 1-2 inches of freezing rain fell overnight, turning the BIO Jetty into an ice rink, delaying the final day of Set to Work for MASTT and AEUK.

 

6 Feb 2020 - MASTT were grateful for the opportunity to host Cdre R.A. Feltham RCN, Cdr Canadian Fleet Atlantic, Captain M. Tennant RCN, Capt CFMWC Stadacona, Captain Cyr CCG Atlantic Region and Cdr N. Marriott RN, UK Embassy Ottawa Naval and Air Advisor, today.

 

Simon Cox (Cdr 2nd MCM Squadron)

 

14 Feb 2020 - Valentine's Day with friends on HMS Cattistock . BZ to Crew 6 for their strong performance today, LET(ME) Hall for his exceptional engineering can-do and to ET(ME) Jackson for gaining his 1’s.

 

 

5 Feb 2020 - We work hard and play hard in the Royal Navy.  MCM2 Squadron running out winners in the Commodore’s Cup Volleyball today.

 

Maryla Ingham (Cdr 1st Patrol Boat Squadron)

 

4 Feb 2020 - After HMS Puncher snagged some free floating line in the Channel yesterday she was able to call upon Royal Navy divers to cut it away and conduct an underwater survey.  Thank you Southern Diving Unit 1 for your speedy response to get the Ship back on task!

 

 


14 Feb 20 - News from Oman

 

I am grateful to former WO(D) Pete Younger (now a Lt in the Royal Navy of Oman) for this update:

 

"Rob,

 

As you are probably aware, I took over from Tim Sizer and have been training the RNO (Royal Navy of Oman) diving team for the last four years. 

 

Joe Price, his predecessor Edward Black [both MCDOA members] and I have significantly mentored, and in my case taught, to advance the capability of the team from basic air to the CRABE semi-closed rebreather reference diving.  Joe’s role as OIC is to continue with this progress and I must say he’s doing an amazing job.  He’s pushed hard with regards to EOD and exercises are evolving significantly with the introduction of new equipments.

 

These pictures were taken during courses run by me mostly but give an insight to the great job that the RN are doing in helping/assisting the RNO.  They now have a capability to dive to 60m as a result.  (BZ to Joe for sure but don’t tell him, ha ha.)

 

Joe Price and Pete Younger

 

 

 

 

 

MCDOA member Sam Jane (right) and an Omani preparing to dive to 60 metres.

 

MCDOA member Sam Jane (right) is SofD for the RNO

 

 

 

 

 

 

RNO Haux RCC

 

The first course

 

Joe Price and Pete Younger presenting course certificates

 

 

Yours aye,

 

Pete"

 


12 Feb 20 - HMS Chiddingold prepares to deploy to the Gulf

 

The Royal Navy website contains this article reporting that HMS Chiddingfold (MCM2 Crew 1) has entered dry dock in Portsmouth Naval Base to undergo maintenance in preparation for a three-year deployment on Operation KIPION MCM in the Gulf.

 

(RN website photo)

 


11 Feb 20 - HMS Middleton emerges from refit

 

The Portsmouth News website contains this article announcing the emergence of HMS Middleton (MCM2 Crew 8) from an extensive £7.5 million refit at Portsmouth.

 

The Royal Navy website published this article on 7 February announcing the same event which occurred on 27 January.

 

(RN website photo)

 


10 Feb 20 - New Coastal Forces museum to open

 

The Royal Navy website contains this article announcing that a £900,000 museum celebrating the Royal Navy’s ‘Spitfires of the Sea’ will open next year on the former site of RNAD (Royal Naval Armament Depot) Priddy's Hard in Gosport.  It will be located in a disused mine store and form the centrepiece of a £30m redevelopment.

(RN website photo)

 

Coastal Forces MLs (Motor Launches) were heavily involved in minelaying and inshore minesweeping during the Second World War as this image of two Fairmile 'A' MLs, laden with moored and ground mines respectively, shows.  The original photo was probably taken at Dover.  Also see entry for 19 Mar 07 in News Archive 17 for an eye-witness description of minelaying by Coastal Forces MLs (Motor Launches) during the Second World War.

 

 

 


9 Feb 20 - Portsmouth News obituary for Dr John Bevan

 

The Portsmouth News website contains this obituary for the late MCDOA member John Bevan.

 

 


8 Feb 20

 

Funeral notice for John Bevan BSc MSc PhD FSUT FAE

 

Herewith the funeral notice for MCDOA member Dr John Bevan (see entry for 3 Feb 20).  Please note the request to RSVP if you wish to attend.

 

 

 


NDG deals with ordnance in Inverness

 

The Aberdeen Press & Journal website contains this article and the Inverness Courier this article reporting that members of Faslane-based Northern Diving Group (NDG) carried out a controlled explosion on a marine pyrotechnic found on the shore of the Moray Firth near the Caledonian Thistle football ground.

 

 


7 Feb 20

 

Funeral of Lt Cdr David John Baden Forsey MBE RN

 

The small church of St Michael and All Angels in the village of Enborne near Newbury was packed to the rafters today for the funeral of MCDOA member Dave Forsey (see entry for 10 Jan 20).  As we drove up, I felt a sense of deja vu because I had attended the funeral of Dave's lovely wife Kathy in the same building seven years ago (see second entry for 20 Apr 13 in News Archive 42).

 

Attendees included many of Dave's friends plus his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.  MCDOA members present included David Bartlett MBE, Mick Beale, Mike Critchley, Mike Emary, Martyn Holloway, Rob Hoole, Dougie MacDonald, Ralph Mavin, Chris Meatyard, Alan Padwick OBE and his wife Sarah, Tim Paul MBE, Jon Riches and his wife Ann, David Sandiford, Peter Waddington and Bob White MBE. 

 

Other members of our cloth included Mo Crang, John Dadd BEM, Mick Fellows MBE DSC BEM, Colin 'Scouse' Kidman QGM, Anthony 'Lawry' Lawrence MBE, Paul 'Dhobey' Lines, Chris Page, Ray Ramsay, Terry Settle MBE QGM BEM (who rang 'Five Bells' during the service and piped the 'Still' and 'Carry On' at the graveside) and Dudley 'Wooly' Woolnough.  It was also good to see Jill Hildesley (widow of the late MCDOA member Tim Hidesley MBE), Anthony Bodrett with his wife June (representing the Ton Class Association) and Dave Glover (representing the Royal British Legion).

 

Click on this image to download the full Order of Service:

 

 

Following the service of thanksgiving, Dave's wicker casket was interred near that of his wife Kathy in the natural hillside setting of Acorn Ridge within sight of Beacon Hill and Watership Down.

 

 

 

 

Most of the mourners then repaired to the cosy Craven Arms in the village of Enborne for a reception that included a welcome tot of rum as well as a free bar and buffet.

 

Yours Truly (Rob Hoole) flanked by Dave's daughter Cathy and son Paul

 

Dave's son Paul saying thank you and proposing a toast

 

Dave Bartlett, David Sandiford, Bob White, Martyn Holloway and Lawry Lawrence

listening to Paul's speech

 

Lawry Lawrence and Mo Crang

 

Jon and Ann Riches

 

Colin Kidman

 

Dave's daughter Cathy with Jill Hildesley

 

Chris Page and Dhobey Lines who travelled from Spain for the occasion

 

Ray Ramsay, Colin Kidman, Mick Beale, Mo Crang, Rob Hoole, Lawry Lawrence,

John Dadd and Bob White

 

Such occasions as this are intrinsically sad but they do provide opportunities for old friends to meet, swap stories and remember those passed.  I think Dave's family enjoyed the support of our company and I know Dave would have approved of us lightening the atmosphere.

 

Thank you, Paul and Catherine, for allowing us to share your day.  We are here if and when you need us.  It's what Dave would have wanted.

 


From David's daughter Catherine:

 

"Dear Rob,

 

I have attached the tributes and welcome that were read out during the service for dad.  I wasn’t sure whether you would like to post them for people who could not attend.  Also, maybe for those who were at the back and may not have heard all of them:

 

Eulogy and tribute to Dave Forsey MBE by Catherine Chinery

 

Patrick & Jamie's tribute to their granddad

 

Essex Forsey Tribute

 

The other poems were printed inside the Order of Service which you have already posted.  Many thanks, Rob, for that and the lovely write-up you produced of dad’s day.

 

I would also like to express our thanks and gratitude for all who came to dad’s send off.  I hope we did him proud.  It was such an honour to meet so many of dad’s friends and fellow divers.  I know it really made a very difficult and sad day a little easier knowing we were surrounded by so many that loved dad. 

 

Terry’s reading of the Diver’s Eulogy and the ringing of the 5 Bells during the service was so beautiful and his piping The Still and Carry On with my niece at mum’s and dad’s graveside was breath-taking and so fitting.    

 

I have been told that many of you shared in the rum aroma as I poured the tot, well hip flask, in with dad.  The round of applause was totally unexpected and made it seem even more fitting.  Dad has taken a tot up to mum on her birthday and Christmas Day ever since she passed away and this tradition will be continued, rest assured.  

 

Sadly, I know, many people were unable to attend and our thoughts and thanks are with them also.  The amazing tributes and comments are greatly appreciated and I hope to print them out.  

 

There was a Condolence Book at the Wake, which I forgot to mention.  Some people found it and have written some beautiful thoughts.  I was just wondering, Rob, if anyone else would like to send me anything they would like put in the book?  I am happy for them to email me directly and I can print it out and insert it in to the book.  

 

Bruce and I are so very much looking to March and the unveiling of the Vernon Monument.  I know dad was looking forward to us bringing him to see it come to fruition.  I will certainly raise a tot in his memory.  

 

Also, we are all so proud that there will be such a prestigious award in dad’s name and look forward to presenting our Siebe Gorman Admiralty Pattern 6-bolt diving helmet.

 

If anyone would like to look online at dad’s cake website there are some interesting cakes and, of course, a Siebe Gorman Helmet.  The address is www.grandads-cakes.org.

 

I look forward to meeting you again in March, Rob, and thank you again for all your help and support.  

 

Kindest regards,

 

Catherine Chinery" 

 


HMS Cattistock's divers

 

The medium.com website contains this article describing the role of the diving element of HMS Cattistock (MCM2 Crew 6).  It features PO(D) James Shell, LS(D) Ashley Lishman and AB(D) Sam Alexander.

 

 


4 Feb 20 - Ex-service divers participating in transatlantic rowing event

 

I am grateful to MCDOA member Nick Gwatkin for this notification:

 

"Hi Rob,

 

Ahoy from the NHS!! 

 

I found this and thought it maybe worth a promote on the MCDOA website.  Andy Taw was a CD in FDU3 when I was the Boss and also FDU2 amongst other units.

 

 https://thebubbleheads.co.uk

 

AN EPIC 3000 MILE ROWING RACE ACROSS THE ATLANTIC

 

 

In December 2020, four deep sea divers will board an ocean rowing boat and attempt to race unaided across the Atlantic Ocean, for the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge.  Claimed to be ‘The World’s Toughest Row’, the race will challenge and push every element of the mind, body and soul.  With the finishing line 3000 miles away, it is the ultimate test.

 

We are taking on this challenge to raise vital funds for Wessex Cancer Trust, a local Hampshire charity which helps and supports anyone affected by cancer regardless of age, gender or type.  It is also a charity our crew have a very personal connection with...

 

https://thebubbleheads.co.uk/the-bubbleheads-prepare-for-the-twac-2020-24-hour-row-in-henley

 

TOGETHER WITH HENLEY RIVER AND ROWING MUSEUM, THE BUBBLEHEADS HAVE INVITED TEAMS ENTERED INTO THE TALISKER WHISKY ATLANTIC CHALLENGE 2020 TO JOIN THEM FOR A CHARITY 24 HOUR ROW.     

 

Whilst in 12 months time we will be competing against them, at 10 am on 25 January 2020 for 24 hours, we will be rowing alongside and supporting 14 other teams entered into this years’ Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge 2020, for a 24 Hour Charity Row at Henley River and Rowing Museum.  Having heard 24-hour rows were a popular fundraising event for teams who competed in previous Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenges, we were keen to take it to the next step.  We wanted to bring teams together in the lead up to the main event in December and through working together, encourage each other through the challenge and utilise everyone’s efforts to boosting fundraising for each team’s chosen charity.  A coincidental meeting in the cafe at the Henley River and Rowing Museum led us to find the perfect venue for the event… a location steeped in history and home to UK rowing with the facilities to host large numbers...

 

Nick"

 

The 'Bubbleheads' team (full CVs here) comprises ex-RN CDs Andy Taw and James Piper (brother of MCDOA member Ben / son of ex-RN CD Eric), ex-Royal Engineers diver Lewis Locke and North Sea saturation diver Chris Ayres.  Please give them your support by donating here: 

 

www.justgiving.com/fundraising/thebubbleheads2020

 

Don't forget the Gift Aid which adds 25% to your contribution.

 


3 Feb 2020 - Death of John Bevan BSc MSc PhD FSUT FAE

 

Your humble webmaster having an 'editorial meeting' with John Bevan in Sep 2017

 

It saddens me to have to announce that MCDOA Honorary member and Project Vernon trustee Dr John Bevan succumbed to his horrible illness of myeloma at 1345 this afternoon.  He was 72.  His wife Ann was holding his hand and two nurses from the Rowan's hospice tried to make his final moments as comfortable as possible.  He is free from pain at last.

 

John's achievements reach far beyond his active support of the Vernon Mine Warfare & Diving Monument.  In 1970, he and fellow Royal Naval Scientific Service diver Peter Sharphouse set a new world record when they dived to a simulated depth of 1,500 ft at the Royal Naval Physiological Laboratory's Deep Trials Unit at Alverstoke, described by American colleagues at the time as the hyperbaric equivalent of a moon landing.  John went on to be a celebrated consultant, author of diving publications, Chairman & Managing Director of SUBMEX Ltd, Editor of Underwater Contractor International magazine, founder of the Historical Diving Society before its worldwide proliferation and the prime mover of the Society's museum at Stokes Bay and its associated library in Gosport.  You only have to type "Bevan" into the search box on the 'Home' page of this website to see what a profound effect he has had on our community.

 

John Bevan with the newly acquired Deane helmet at the HDS Museum in Apr 2017

 

Above all, John was a kindly, fun fellow to be around and he made other people feel good.  So many around the world will miss him greatly.

 

Our thoughts are with John's wife Ann and their family.  Watch this space for further developments.

 


1 Feb 20 - RFA Cardigan Bay continuing to support MCMVs in the Gulf

 

The Royal Navy website contains this article reporting how RFA Cardigan Bay is continuing to support HMS Blyth (MCM1 Crew 8), HMS Shoreham (MCM1 Crew 4), HMS Ledbury (MCM2 Crew 7) and HMS Brocklesby (MCM2 Crew 5) in the Gulf.  RFA Cardigan Bay also provides a Command & Control platform for the Commander UK MCM Force (COMUKMCMFOR) based in Bahrain.

 

HMS Blyth alongside RFA Cardigan Bay

(RN photo)

 


31 Jan 20 - Latest tweets

 

Click on the linked dates to see all associated photos and videos.  

 

HMS Cattistock (MCM2 Crew 6)

 

28 Jan 2020 - A great way to start the day during our recent week at sea.

 

Neil Watkin

 

20 Jan 2020 - HMS Cattistock outbound from Portsmouth this morning.

 

 

HMS Chiddingfold (MCM2 Crew 1)

 

21 Jan 2020 - It was a pleasure to host 6 young officers from HMS Prince of Wales on Friday.  Hopefully now armed with some new knowledge and appreciation of the easily forgotten art of mine warfare.

 

 

11 Jan 2020 - A short timelapse of our move into drydock yesterday.  Lots more to come on this next week.

 

10 Jan 2020 - Busy dockyard this morning.  Number of ships on the move (including us) getting ready to get back to it.

 

HMS Hurworth (MCM2 Crew 3)

 

29 Jan 2020 - When we are huge distances from land based medical care our initial actions can make the difference between life and...well... you know...

 

23 Jan 2020 - We are about to enter a short engineering support period in HM Naval Base Portsmouth.  Our team will be working hard to make some material improvements to the ship.  Our engineers make stuff happen!  How many of the team can you spot?

 

22 Jan 2020 - It’s not all cutting about the ocean blue with a knife between your teeth!  A well run ship has well run logs.  Each department has administrative duties which keep us safe, ready to fight and make sure we are looking after our people properly.

 

21 Jan 2020 - Spectacular sunset.  The Navigation Officer took the opportunity to check our gyro compass is correct by taking a bearing of the sun as it sets, and comparing it to the nautical almanac value.  He’s keen!

 

21 Jan 2020 - Good morning everyone!  Our reward for an early start - a stunning sunrise.

 

16 Jan 2020 - Allow me to introduce Ruth.  Ruth gets thrown overboard so that we can train to recover a man overboard.  She doesn’t mind - I’m told she lives for this kind of stuff!

 

 

HMS Chiddingfold (MCM2 Crew 1) 

 

17 Jan 2020 - Our Ruth really fancies a swim... but can't work out where all the water's gone!  I wonder what would hurt more, a fall from here or from TML_2_4's helicopter.

 

17 Jan 2020 - Pipe down, you.  Get back on your hook!  

 

15 Jan 2020 - Queen’s Harbour Master Pilots help us get safely in/out of HM Naval Base Portsmouth.  They offer advice on berthing, tidal conditions, shipping movements and tug control.  They then leave by boat to help another ship.

 

17 Jan 2020 - I’m pleased to report that due to the hard work and outstanding efforts of the crew we have been assessed by FOST staff as ‘Ready to Train’.  That means we are in a really good place to continue our preparations for deploying.  Well done team!

 

14 Jan 2020 - A grey day at sea - Storm Brendan is on its way!

 

10 Jan 2020 - Lovely morning for it.  Sun’s out, guns out!

 

 

9 Jan 2020 - Time for a quick card game over lunch - loser washes the dishes!  Reports are that the captain needs some remedial training.  Other card games are available.

 

8 Jan 2020 - Hello 2020!  We’re back at sea on task.  A day alongside is a day wasted.

 

8 Jan 2020 - Firefighting training.  Navigation training.  Seamanship training.  Diving training.  All in a days work!

 

HMS Middleton (MCM2 Crew 8)

 

23 Jan 2020 - Today we had the pleasure to award LS(MW) “Swifty” Taylor his first good conduct badge.  Kindly presented by CDR MCM2.

 

21 Jan 2020 - Mighty Midd is preparing to return to sea. Including significant upgrades and 230v power for every bunk onboard as part of her £7.5 million refit.  The Great Escape is on.  To be continued.

 

 

 

16 Jan 2020 - Warfare Officers on MCM2 Crew 8 honing their Navigational skills at HMS Collingwood.  Preparing for when HMS MIDDLETON proceeds back to sea.

 

HMS Pembroke (MCM1 Crew 5)

 

20 Jan 2020 - The basic design of the Heavy Machine Gun, or HMG, dates back nearly 100 years.  Updated and improved over many years, it provides a high rate of fire with significant stopping power against small boats and aircraft.  We practice regularly to ensure we make the first rounds count.

 

19 Jan 20 - A beautiful, crisp afternoon on the Clyde, and perfect conditions for us to practice mooring to a buoy.  Here’s a cracking photo of our buoy jumpers getting ready for the Ship to approach, courtesy of our Leading Diver.

 

 

18 Jan 2020 - We were treated to this view of Arran shortly after sunset this evening, and now the METO* is confidently predicting good weather for tomorrow.

*Meteorological officer.

 

HMS Penzance (MCM1 Crew 3)

 

19 Jan 2020 - Stunning evening up here in Scotland. No need for filters!  Can we keep this high pressure for a bit longer please?

 

HMS Pembroke (MCM1 Crew 5)

 

19 Jan 2020 - We concur, it’s imposssible not to snap a picture or two.  If you look carefully you may be able to spot HMS Penzance.

 

18 Jan 2020 - After a busy maintenance period we’re back at sea and working hard to generate for deployment this year.  A new year and lots to do... Proud to have our Effectiveness Award pennant flying for all our hard work last year.  Time to carry on where we left off!

 

     

 

Simon Cox (MCM2)

 

28 Jan 2020 - A fantastic example of what the Royal Navy's Mine Counter-Measures (MCM) Squadron and sailors have been doing recently with NATO.  BZ HMS Cattistock.  Keeping the sea safe for all and disposing of historic sea mines.

 

MASTT (Maritime Autonomous Systems Trials Team commanded by MCDOA member Dave Stanbury)

 

29 Jan 2020 - With RNMB Hussar and CSB support boat safely launched and nestled together, alongside the finger jetty of Bedford Institute of Oceanography (BIO), in Bedford Basin, Halifax NS; MASTT complete their task of pontoon building, while the crane driver waits patiently.

 

 

29 Jan 2020 - A view from afar. BIO Finger jetty, with the RN Sweep System nestled at the Far West end, prior to re-organisation and set up.

 

29 Jan 2020 - RN Sweep Demonstrator Cold Weather Trial: As MASTT begin to set up the Trial site, ready for next week’s set-to-work, the hurdle of a CSB full of frozen water had to be dealt with.  Now to get a frozen engine started.....

 

23 Jan 2020 - Match Day! MASTT maintained relations with the Mine Warfare Operational Training School yesterday, through a football match, at HMS Collingwood.  The game was a close match, with MASTT winning 4-3 with the final goal scored, in extra time.

 

MCM2 Crew 4 (currently shipless and assigned 'VERNON 1' having just returned from manning HMS BROCKLESBY in the Gulf)

 

22 Jan 2020 - We'll be posting updates as we get ready and daily as we walk the Western Front Way.  It's 600 miles on foot, reaching from Pfetterhouse at the foot of the Alps, to Niewpoort on the Channel coast.  See more details here: www.thewesternfrontway.com

 

22 Jan 2020 - Along the way we will be visiting over 200 memorial sites commemorating the many battles fought along this stretch of Europe.  We will be researching these before we go and hope to live broadcast updates from the route.

 

 

22 Jan 2020 - Of course if we are to raise a good amount of money for charity, a little help and sponsorship will go a long way.  If you can help us, please visit our central Just Giving page: www.sponsorme.co.uk/stephenrichardson/western-front-way-600-royal-navy-expedition.aspx

 

22 Jan 2020 - Please follow us and spread the word - the more coverage the better.  Thank you.

 

HMS Queen Elizabeth’s original Ship’s Cat

 

19 Jan 2020 - Minehunter HMS Cromer was decommissioned in 2001 and moved to BRNC Dartmouth where it is now permanently moored as a training ship.  It was renamed Hindostan, after a previous training ship.

 

 

19 Jan 2020 -  If you’re going to be permanently moored somewhere, this isn’t a bad view to have.  Just checking out the buttons, levers and helm before I go and see what the BRNC Dartmouth Officer Cadets are up to below decks...

 

19 Jan 2020 - BRNC Dartmouth's training ship is a great place to consolidate damage control (fire & flood) training in a realistic environment.  Come back please Mr Officer Cadet - I need help with vertical ladders.

 

19 Jan 2020 - The 'Q' is everywhere.  He’s the expert in charge of the Officer Cadets’ training exercise & pops out of escape hatches all over the place.  Alert, stealthy, agile - me & him have a lot in common.  Just a hunch, but I think he might be something to do with the Royal Marines.

 


30 Jan 20 - MWA Southern Area Monthly Dit Session

 

Fellow MCDOA members Bill Kerr and your humble webmaster enjoyed a convivial gathering of Mine Warfare Association (MWA) members this evening in The Crown at Fareham.

 

 


29 Jan 20 - Casting of Vernon Monument update

 

 

I am grateful to sculptor Mark Richards FRSS for these images showing the latest progress with the casting of the MCDOA-sponsored bronze one-and-a-quarter life-size Vernon Mine Warfare & Diving Monument at the Morris Singer Foundry at Lasham near Alton in Hampshire (see entry for 16 Jan 2020).  The monument is due to be unveiled at Gunwharf Quays, the site previously occupied by HMS Vernon, on Wednesday 25 March.

 

 

         

 

Mark says: "Please note that the hole in the underside of the fin is a patch removed so that the investment can coat the inside - this gets re-assembled in bronze.  As you can see, the first bronzes have cast and all looks good.  Once all the bronze bits are cast and chased (sprues removed and surface cleaned up), they are assembled and the welds chased back.  This is very tricky on this one as the SS frame has to be incorporated into the assembly.  Rather them than me!"

 

 

         

 


28 Jan 20 - SDU2 deals with German grenade

 

The Christchurch Advertiser & Times website contains this article reporting the recovery by members of Portsmouth-based Southern Diving Unit 2 (SDU2) of a German M17 'egg grenade' found on Calshot Spit.

 

 

 


26 Jan 20 - A new 'Diver Chronicle' from Ginge Fullen

 

I must thank CD branch legend Eamon 'Ginge' Fullen QGM for sending me the sixth in his excellent series of illustrated chronicles of veteran Royal Navy divers in which he has captured so many memories (see entry for 19 Oct 19 in News Archive 68) .  His latest offering features Cris Ballinger BEM who joined the Royal Navy in 1959 but it also provides a well-researched chronology of deep diving in the RN from the first-hand accounts of many of those involved.  It is packed with a wealth of detail and illustrations, not to mention the familiar (and not so familiar) names of those RN and supporting MOD legends on whose shoulders stand those in today's CD Branch.  We are transported between RNPL's Deep Trials Unit at Alverstoke and its Canadian counterpart at DCIEM in Toronto; from Scottish lochs and Norwegian fjords to the warm waters of the Mediterranean, Florida, the Caribbean and California.  This book tells an epic story and truly lives up to the achievements it describes.

 

         

All six volumes of Ginge's chronicles to date should be available for sale from the RNCDA website's shop via www.rncda.com.

 

Cris Ballinger BEM

 

     

 

Fred Hilton:

 

     

 

Don Hodge:

 

      

 

Carl Massey:

 

      

 

Yorky Wilkinson:

 

      

 

Jim Cannon:

 

      

 


22 Jan 20 - SDU1 deals with mortar bomb in Devon

 

The Devon Live website contains this article reporting that members of Plymouth-based Southern Diving Unit 1 (SDU1) were called to a house on Beach Road in Woolacombe on Monday 20 Jan to deal with what was believed to be a Second World War mortar bomb.

 


18 Jan 20 - RN to begin unmanned mine hunting and survey operations

 

The Royal Navy website contains this article announcing that "unmanned mine hunters and survey technology will soon be on frontline duties with the Royal Navy...  Initial operations are now being carried out by Project Wilton, the name for the Royal Navy’s unmanned mine hunting and survey endeavours.  Wilton currently have three boats – two remote controlled and the other manned – as well as multiple underwater vehicles.  This kit will supplement the Royal Navy’s current mine hunting missions carried out by the mine countermeasures ships of the Hunt and Sandown classes...".

 


17 Jan 20 - Latest MSM and LS&GC awards

 

Congratulations to WO1(MW) Steve Harvey and CPO(D) Willie Sharp MBE on being gazetted for the award of the Meritorious Service Medal (MSM).  Fewer than 50 MSMs are awarded annually to Royal Navy Warrant Officers and Senior Rates.

 

Also, congratulations to PO(D) Nigel 'Pat' Patterson on being gazetted for the award of the 2nd Clasp to the Naval Long Service & Good Conduct Medal (LS&GC).

 


16 Jan 20 - Casting of Vernon Monument update

 

 

I am grateful to sculptor Mark Richards FRSS for these images showing the latest progress with the casting of the MCDOA-sponsored bronze one-and-a-quarter life-size Vernon Mine Warfare & Diving Monument at the Morris Singer Foundry at Lasham near Alton in Hampshire (see entry for 11 Jan 20).

 

 

He says the green elements are wax sections being run up. The tubes, variously known as sprues or runners and risers, are to allow the bronze to flow and the air to escape.

 

 

     

 

 

The yellow elements are sections being run up, cut up and in the final stages of investment.

 

     

 

 

     

 

More information about the process here:

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Investment_casting

 


15 Jan 20 - Funeral of Lt Cdr Harry Parker MBE RN

 

MCDOA members Peter Waddington and John Staveley attended Harry's funeral in Dunfermline today and I am grateful to them for their respective accounts of the service (see entry for 8 Jan 20).

 

 

From Peter Waddington:

 

"Dear Rob,  

 

John Staveley and I both attended Harry Parker's funeral this morning, met up, and exchanged histories, and both made our number, chatted with and were welcomed by his sons.  We were the only MCDs there, the remaining large congregation being made up of Harry's extended family and friends, a large contingent from the RNA including Standard Bearer, and a few members of HMS Relentless Association, together with many of the regular congregation.  These last were obvious witness to the fact that Harry was well known to them, and as mentioned during the service was a pillar of this Church and of the local community. We were told in later conversation with one of the RNA contingent that Alan Bayliss had intended to be there but is currently in hospital.  

 

The service was a simple one of appropriate hymns and prayers, together with a eulogy presented by son Rev. Dr Nigel, which covered Harry's life, many interests and activities from childhood onwards, in family, RN service, local community and Church, tackling everything he touched with vibrant enthusiasm. It was alledged that he tended to treat his young sons like juniour ratings!  

 

I see that John has just sent you a more detailed summary, including the note that he will forward a copy of the eulogy when he receives it from Nigel, so I will leave it at that.  The attachment is a scan of the front cover of the Order of Service.  It was pointed out that the photo was taken on the occasion of their Golden Wedding anniversay, and shortly before his wife died.

 

 

Regards,

 

Peter"

 


From John Staveley:

 

"Rob,

 

A congregation of about 200 included representatives of the HMS RELENTLESS Association, of which Harry was First Lieutenant, and the Rosyth and West Fife RNA, who paraded their standard.  I am aware of MRUs, as it were, from Alan Bayliss, Dickie Wardrope, and Dougie MacDonald.

 

The service, led by the minister of the Parish Church of Townhill and Kingseat, included “The Lord’s my shepherd”, “Lead us, heavenly Father, lead us”, and “Now thank we all our God”, and readings from Psalm 107 (Some went down to the sea in ships) St Paul’s 1st Letter to the Corinthians, and St John’s Gospel.

 

One of Harry’s four sons, the Revd Dr Nigel Parker, delivered an eloquent and moving eulogy which covered his early life in Leeds, joining the Navy as a Boy, submarine training, promotion, and his transition to MCM etc.  On his retirement in 1973, the family settled in Dunfermline (when he started as RSO at CMCM) where he became deeply involved in the church, the community, and the Samaritans.  Apparently, he considered seeking ordination but was dissuaded by his wife who asserted that he would run his church like a ship.

 

At the family’s request, the naval contingent and church elders formed a guard of honour, as the organ played the Naval Hymn while Harry was borne out of the church."

 


14 Jan 20 - Gentlemen Who Lunch

 

The MCDOA's 'Not Quite the Last of the Summer Wine' trio of Barlow, Holloway and Hoole visited The Robin Hood at Rowlands Castle today and enjoyed a convivial lunch courtesy of our hostess Kelly who took this photo:

 

 

For the benefit of newcomers to this website, the three of us first met as single living-in members of HMS VERNON's wardroom mess in March 1973 and have tried to gather together most weeks since leaving the RN.

 


13 Jan 20 - HMS VERNON Minewarfare Heritage

 

On this day in 1940, Winston Churchill, accompanied by his wife 'Clemmie', paid a second visit to HMS VERNON as First Lord of the Admiralty (not First Sea Lord).  He wore the uniform of an Elder Brother of Trinity House.

 

 

Churchill, who wasn't appointed Prime Minister until 10 May 1940, was concerned about German naval activity in the Baltic Sea and initially planned to send a naval force there but this was soon changed to a plan, code-named Operation WILFRED, to stop the shipment of Swedish iron ore to Germany by mining Norwegian waters.  This became linked with a separate plan, code-named Operation ROYAL MARINE, to send naval mines down the Rhine to destroy German pontoon bridges, barges and shipping further downstream.  Britain saw this as a way of striking back for the heavy damage and loss of life the Germans had inflicted with their magnetic mine, but the French vetoed the plan for fear that it would bring a wider German retaliation against them.  Owing to disagreements about mining, both in the war cabinet and with the French government, WILFRED was delayed until 8 April 1940, the day before the Germans launched their successful invasion of Norway.

 

Churchill had first visited HMS VERNON as First Lord of the Admiralty on 21 September 1939 when he had shown immense interest in the work of the Mining Department which also had responsibility for mine design, the development of mine countermeasures and naval bomb & mine disposal at sea and on land.

 

 


12 Jan 20 - A new book from Cdr David Bruhn USN

 

My sometime co-author David Bruhn, prolific author of books about naval warfare including the trilogy 'Wooden Ships and Iron Men' about US-built minesweepers (including some in RN service), has published a new book called 'Gators Offshore and Upriver - The US Navy’s Amphibious Ships and Underwater Demolition Teams, and Royal Australian Navy Clearance Divers in Vietnam'.  This is a companion book to 'On The Gunline - US Navy and Royal Australian Navy Warships off Vietnam, 1965-1973' and contains material about the heroic actions of Royal Australian Navy clearance divers to thwart the efforts of North Vietnamese and Viet Cong swimmer-sappers to mine Allied vessels:

 

Book cover incorporating painting by Richard DeRosset, depicting a Viet Cong swimmer-sapper

mining attack  on the tank landing ship USS Westchester County (LST-1167), on

1 November 1968,  in which  the US Navy suffered its greatest loss of life in a single

incident, as a result of enemy action, during the entire Vietnam War.

 

Book Description

 

During the Vietnam War, 142 “gators” (amphibious ships) served in the combat zone.  As deeper-draft ships landed Marines on assault beaches by boat or helicopter, World War II-era tank landing ships operated on shallow, winding rivers.  Scores of minimal-draft vessels were required to support inland combat action beyond the reach of the cruisers and destroyers serving on the gunline offshore.  Therefore, dozens of “mothballed” landing ships were returned to service.  These “Ts” served as mobile support bases for river patrol boats and assault helicopters, and ran the rivers to deliver vital cargos to Allied troops, and other units of the “Brown Water Navy.”

 

Each day brought the possibility of ambush by the enemy concealed in dense jungle along the banks.  Most insidious were swimmer-sappers who used the chocolate-colored waters to hide their movements while placing explosives on vessels lying at anchor or alongside a pier.  One such attack against the Westchester County killed or injured many sailors and embarked soldiers.

 

This activity spurred Royal Australian Navy clearance divers being called into service.  Their inspections of thousands of ship hulls, rudders, and anchor chains, and heroic removal and rendering harmless of deadly ordnance they found, saved many ships and lives.

 

For those interested in learning about Sailors who fought “in country,” this companion to On the Gunline is the book you’re looking for.  One hundred and ninety photographs, maps, and diagrams; appendices; and an index to full-names, places, and subjects add value to this work.

 

Order your copy of David's latest publication from Heritage Books here:

 

Gators Offshore and Upriver - The US Navy’s Amphibious Ships and Underwater Demolition Teams, and Royal Australian Navy Clearance Divers in Vietnam

 


11 Jan 20 - Casting of Vernon Monument update

 

 

I am grateful to sculptor Mark Richards FRSS for this image showing him checking the wax on the torso of one the divers from the MCDOA-sponsored bronze one-and-a-quarter life-size Vernon Mine Warfare & Diving Monument (see entry for 21 Dec 19 in News Archive 68).  From here it finds its way into bronze at the Morris Singer Foundry at Lasham in Hampshire.

 

 

The real McCoy courtesy of Mick O'Leary's Diving-Watch.net.

 

Steve 'Taff' Livingstone and Gary 'Geoff' Hurst wearing original CDBA

 


10 Jan 20 - Arrangements for the funeral of Lt Cdr David John Baden Forsey MBE RN

 

The funeral of MCDOA member David Forsey will start at 1130 on Friday 7 February at St Michael and All Angels Church, Church Lane, Enborne near Newbury, Berkshire RG20 0HB (see entry for 29 Dec 19 in News Archive 68).  It is marked as 'Enborne Church' on Google Maps.

 

The committal and burial service will start at 1230 in the natural setting of Acorn Ridge, Redhill, Enborne near Newbury, Berkshire, RG20 0JN.  This is within sight of Beacon Hill and Watership Down.

 

After the funeral, a reception will be held at The Craven Arms, Skinners Green Lane, Enborne, Newbury, Berkshire RG20 0HG.  If you would like to attend, please inform David's daughter Catherine via this email address so that she and her brother Paul can gauge numbers.

 

The family has asked for donations in David's memory to be made towards Project Vernon, the erection of a monument at Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth celebrating the mine warfare & diving heritage of HMS Vernon which previously occupied the site.  This can be achieved online here:

 

Donate to Project Vernon

 

If you are a UK taxpayer, please consider completing and submitting this Gift Aid Declaration which adds 25% to your donation.

 

Postscript: Many thanks to MCDOA member Peter Waddington for his generous donation towards the Vernon Monument in David's memory.

 


9 Jan 20 - Closure of SETT

 

The Submarine Escape Training Tank at Gosport

 

The Royal Navy website contains this article and the Portsmouth News website this article announcing the closure of the Submarine Escape Training Tank (SETT) at Gosport on the former site of HMS DOLPHIN.  Many members of our community will recall having performed free ascents from 100 ft, both with and without the benefit of submarine escape equipment, during various clearance diving courses.

 

Submariners inside the SETT at Gosport for the last time

(Royal Navy photo)

 


8 Jan 20 - Death and funeral of Lt Cdr Harry Parker MBE RN

 

     

Harry Parker as CO of HMS Dingley and the 51st Minehunting

Squadron's CD Team in 1962

 

HMS Dingley as fitted with MTG (Multiple Towed Gradiometer) in the mid-1960s

 

It saddens me to pass on this announcement from MCDOA member Harry Parker's son Nigel:

 

"Dear Rob,

 

I apologise that I had not let you know earlier of Dad's passing.  Do pass the word on through MCDOA and other networks you know of and who would appreciate knowing.

 

As you can see from this death notice in the Dunfermline Press, the funeral is not until next week.  The HMS Relentless Association has been in touch.

 

PARKER Peacefully at the Queen Margaret Hospital, Dunfermline on Friday 20th December 2019, aged 91 years, Harry Parker MBE, ex-RN, proud member of Townhill Community and lately Whitelaw Court, husband of the late Mary, father to Simon, Martin, Timothy and Nigel and loyal family member to many more.

 

Funeral Service to take place in Townhill Church, Dunfermline 10.30am Wednesday 15th January, to which all are invited.  Private cremation to follow.

 

Family flowers only please but if desired donations to the Samaritans and Townhill Church on leaving the service.  

 

There are letters in Dad's files from those who speak of his professionalism, courage and wise tutoring of younger divers.  So much unknown to us as a family.

 

Yours sincerely,  

 

Nigel Parker (Rev Dr)

 

Son and next of kin."

 

Yours Truly (Rob Hoole - centre) with Harry Parker (second right) at 2001 MCDOA Dinner

 

Harry qualified as a CDO at HMS VERNON in September 1955.  He was awarded a MID (Mention in Despatches) in June 1957 "in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in the Operations in the Near East, October to December 1956" while serving in the tank landing ship HMS Lofoten which landed Royal Marines of 45 Commando during MUSKETEER, the Anglo-French amphibious operation to seize the Suez Canal after its nationalisation by Nasser.  Although Harry left the Royal Navy in 1973, he continued to work as Captain MCM's RSO (Route Survey Officer at Rosyth until superseded by fellow MCDOA member Alan Bayliss in 1993.  He was appointed an MBE (Civil Division) for his services in the 1993 Queen's Birthday Honours.

 

I am sure all members of our community will join me in extending our sincere condolences to Harry's family.

 


From MCDOA member Dougie MacDonald:

 

"Hello Rob,

 

I've only just picked this up and sadly I can’t get there in time. 

 

Harry and I worked together in Lochinvar Block and I learned a lot from him, and before in various ships of the MCM Flotilla.  His wry smile and knowing look summed up his experienced view on life and diving.  I shall miss his tutelage.

 

Best,

 

Dougie"

 


From former CPO(D) Mick Kester:

 

"Hi Rob,

 

Sorry to hear the sad news regarding the passing of Harry Parker.  He was my first Diving Officer / 1st Lt in the tank landing ship HMS MESSINA in Bahrain in 1963.  Under his leadership, our small diving team carried out various tasks in,and around the Gulf including screw and rudder changes and a heap of other repairs to Tank Landing Ships damaged during beach landings.

 

Harry was a great leader and inspiration to me and to many others.  It was Harry who recommended me for CD.

 

From left to right, this photo shows Harry Pickering (D3), Mick Wilson (CD3), me (Shallow Water Diver) and Harry Parker (CDO).

 

 

Best Regards,

 

Mick"

 


From MCDOA member Peter Waddington:

 

"Dear Rob,

 

I have just read your further piece of sad news re the passing of Harry Parker.

 

I never worked directly with Harry, but knew him as a friendly and sociable elder member of the branch, with whom I chatted at a number of social events, south and north; in more recent years the latter.

 

My only indirect connection with his work was when Captain MCM was still in command of HMS Lochinvar at Port Edgar, and I was based there in 1969/70 as XO of HMS Abdiel and MCM Staff Officer to MCM1.  These, as I remember, were either the very early days or the start of Harry's long term as "Mr Route Survey", and I remember speaking on MCM1's behalf at an MCM conference at HMS Vernon about the perceived paucity of the projected Hunt Class build in view of the vital need for continual update of route surveys to protect the approaches to our strategic ports in general, and Faslane in particular.  I remember also, at the conclusion of that talk, being fairly gently chided by the then MW Desk Officer at DNW, Cdr (later Captain) Garth de Courcy-Ireland, who made a pragmatic statement to the effect that "that is what we can afford, so that is what we'll get"!  

 

As one of the slowly dwindling northern reps of the branch, I intend to be at the funeral in Dunfermline next Wednesday.  

 

Regards,

 

Peter"

 


From MCDOA member Bob Lusty:

 

"Hi Rob,

 

Mike Gillam gave me the heads up regarding Harry.  When I was working for Joe Brooks in the Acceptance Trials Diving Equipment Group, Joe was also the Course Officer for a new intake of qualifying CDOs.  Harry was a member of this group as were Mike Gillam, Peter Roberts VC and Pat Christmas qualifying as a CD1.  There were others but they fade from memory.

 

As well as continuing trials on the MRO kit, Joe fully involved us with his CDOs' course.  We joined them in Joe's exciting exercises and second dicky work.  I don't think there was another course quite like it as Joe Brooks trained for war!!!  Ask Mike Gillam.

 

I never worked for Harry but met him several times during our time in the Branch.  He was a kind gentleman and passed on good advice whenever we met.

 

Rest in peace Harry,

 

Bob Lusty"

 


From MCDOA member John Staveley:

 

"Rob,

 

I’ve just seen your post about Harry Parker.

 

Having retired from NATO, we moved back to Scotland last September and are living in Kirkliston, near Edinburgh.  Having been a colleague of Harry in the Warfare Dept at COMMW, not to mention providing him with the results of countless route surveys before that, I plan to go to the funeral.  Do you know who else from the Scottish community I might expect to see there?

 

Thanks,

 

John"

 


From MCDOA member Mike Gillam:

 

"Many thanks Rob,

 

Although I never served with Harry, we spent some amazing months together on course in 1955 as directed by Joe Brooks!  After that, we occasionally met up from time to time.

 

I liked Harry.  We got on well together and I had great respect for him.

 

Looking forward to meeting up with you et al in March.

 

Yours,

 

Mike"  

 


7 Jan 20 - SDU2 deals with ordnance in West Sussex

 

The Spirit FM website contains this article reporting yesterday's disposal by members of Portsmouth-based Southern Diving Unit 2 (SDU2) of ordnance found on Medmerry Beach near Selsey in West Sussex.

 


3 Jan 20 - Dan Herridge superseded as CO of HMS Shoreham

 

The Royal Navy website contains this article reporting that MCDOA member Dan Herridge has been superseded as CO of HMS Shoreham on Operation KIPION MCM in the Gulf with the relief of MCM1 Crew 6 by MCM1 Crew 4.  Dan and Crew 6 will now take over HMS Ramsey from MCM1 Crew 2 back in the UK.

 

Dan Herridge handing over Command of HMS Shoreham to Lt Cdr Pete Evans

(Royal Navy photo)

 


 

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