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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.



This website has been in operation for the past 20 years but has become increasingly creaky and untenable to manage.
A new MCDOA website has been created at   Over time, the new website will be populated with material from the old site. 
In the meantime, the new website's 'Home' page provides a link to this site and all its content.

10 Jun 22 - Ron Hartshorn’s Funeral


There was a good turnout of divers at Ron Hartshorn’s funeral (see entry for 29 May 22) at Portchester Crematorium this afternoon and we all but doubled the number of attendees.  The service was followed by a wake in the Cams Mill pub just outside Fareham. Ron’s brother Mike, daughter Sharon and other members of his family seemed pleased with our presence.



In the 'team photos' from the left are Graham ‘Tug’ Wilson MBE, Peter Still, Cris Ballinger BEM, Vic Humphrey BEM, Rob Hoole, Alan ‘Donkey’ Bray, Ray Ramsay, Brian ‘Troy’ Tempest, Colin ‘Scouse’ Kidman QGM, Chris ‘Paddy’ Doonan, Clive ‘Taff’ Thomas, Michael ‘Mick’ Fellows MBE DSC BEM*, Glyn Holgate, Michael 'Mick' Beale and Stephen ‘Nellie’ Nilsson.





 (Two photos because Ray Ramsay is hiding in one and Paddy Doonan is hiding in the other.)


5 Jun 22 - Bob Hawkins MBE and Kev Stockton at Queen's Platinum Jubilee events


MCDOA Committee member Bob Hawkins, his wife Trudy, and fellow MCDOA member Kev Stockton attended yesterday’s Platinum Jubilee Service of Thanksgiving in St Paul’s Cathedral followed by the lunchtime reception in the City of London’s Guildhall.  Bob has kindly sent me these photos of the occasion.





29 May 22 - Death of former CPO(D) Ronald William Hartshorn



It has been announced that 'Rocket Ron' Hartshorn crossed the bar on 1 May at the age of 90.  He was widowed and had been suffering from Alzheimer's for some time.


"Hartshorn Ronald William


Passed away on 1st May 2022 aged 90.


Much loved Dad of Sharon, loving Grandad of Sarah, Rob, Kate, Craig and Cheryl.  He will be very sadly missed by all of his family and friends.


The funeral service will be held at Portchester Crematorium on Friday 10th June at 12.45pm.


Donations in lieu of flowers can be made for Alzheimer's Society at


Any queries, please contact Co-operative Funeralcare, 86 Trinity Street, Fareham, PO16 7SJ.  Telephone: 01329 280249."


I took the above photo at a divers' reunion in June 2008.


I had known Ron since the early 1970s when we served together at HMS VERNON.  He was a big man with a big laugh and a big heart.  I'm sure all members of our community will join me in extending his family and close friends our deepest sympathy.


N.B. the wish for donations to be made to the Alzheimer's Society in lieu of flowers; a much more effective use of the money.


23 May 22 - A message from our Acting Chairman (pending confirmation at our AGM in November)


I am most grateful to Martin Mackey for this update.  Older members will notice that things have changed considerably since the Superintendent of Diving ran the entire RN diving empire.


"Hi Rob,  


You’re already aware that Olly Alexander and I were conducting a handover of the Superintendent of Defence Diving (SODD) role, so I just wanted to let you know that I formally took over on Thursday 12 May 2022 in the SODD office.  Attached is a photo that marks the occasion.  The sharp eyed will notice that this is not the same office as previous incumbents have had.  Following a move out of Bridge Building on Horsea Island in 2021, SODD and the Defence Diving Standards Team (DDST) are now based in Fraser Building, Whale Island (previously HMS KING ALFRED).


Olly Alexander handing over the role of SODD to Martin Mackey

on 12 May 2022


I’m truly delighted to have taken on the role, one that has made a significant contribution to diving and diving safety over many years.  I am the 23rd officer in the post, the first being Cdr W O Shelford (1945-1948).  The roles and responsibilities have changed over the years including its name which added Defence to the title in 2019.  Today the SODD is the head of the DDST which comprises RN, Army and Civil Service divers.  On the latter, we are about to bring onboard for the first time, two people who have extensive commercial and civilian diving experience but have no military background.  


What do we do today?  The DDST has been appointed by Navy Command’s senior safety manager, on behalf of the First Sea Lord, to provide independent assurance, safety policy and advice to persons accountable for the compliance of all MOD diving activities with applicable health, safety and environmental protection statute law, Defence regulations and MOD requirements. The team works directly to the SODD who, as the diving safety arbiter, is responsible for the overarching diving safety policy, independent assurance and pan-Defence diving safety organisational learning for the MOD.  


The job of SODD brings with it chairmanship of the Minewarfare and Clearance Diving Officers’ Association.  I’m excited about taking on that mantle and look forward very much to working with the committee on our efforts to meet its aim ‘to perpetuate the "Esprit de Corps" of Royal Naval and certain other Minewarfare and Clearance Diving Officers for their mutual benefit through the frequent exchange of information and regular meetings on both a formal and social basis’.  I’m really looking forward to attending the Vernon Monument dedication ceremony on 15 July at which I understand there will be a large number of past incumbents of this post.  And I’m already looking forward to the next MCDOA dinner.  






Commander M C Mackey MA CMgr FCMI Royal Navy

Superintendent of Defence Diving & Head Defence Diving Standards Team

Fraser Building

Whale Island



PO2 8ER"


My favourite photo of Martin shows him in Command of HMS RAMSEY (now decommissioned pending transfer to the Ukrainian Navy) while conducting rafting practice on USS Swift (HSV 2) during Exercise COLD RESPONSE in Norway in early 2006.



21 May 22 - Death of Lt Leslie John Maynard RN


I have learned that Les Maynard crossed the bar yesterday in Australia.  We last met face to face when sharing a table at an MCD officers' monthly lunch in the cafeteria of HMS NELSON (Gunwharf), formerly HMS VERNON, circa 1990.


Les was an old style CDO who served as a rating in the Med Fleet CD Team among other units and was commissioned from the lower deck in January 1969 before serving briefly in the frigate HMS ROTHESAY.  He underwent the officers' Mine Warfare conversion course at HMS VERNON in 1970 along with Tim Trounson MBE and Bob 'Piggy Page, both since deceased.  He then served as Diving Officer of the deep diving vessel HMS RECLAIM and as OIC of the clearance diving team at Portland.  He was promoted to Lt in 1972 and left the RN in 1974.


After working in maritime safety & security on board cruise ships for a few years and, I believe, running a water taxi service on the Thames, he moved to Ashby near Wanneroo in Western Australia where he met regularly with fellow ex-CDs Mike Horlock and Ron Neville and renewed his friendship with the late ex-FCPO(D) Dave ‘Mona’ Lott BEM in Eden, NSW.


Les Maynard (second left) flanked by fellow ex-CDs Ron Neville, Jeffery Collins, Mike Horlock

and Cliff Coulson Bonner at a lunchtime gathering in Perth, WA on 20 July 2019

(Photo courtesy of Cliff CB)


Les developed pancreatic cancer in 2011. He joined the internet in 2015 and we kept in contact intermittently thereafter.  In August 2019, he informed me that he was suffering the side effects of chemotherapy after a relapse.


I am sure all members of our community will join me in extending our sincere condolences to Les's widow Aileen, other family and close friends.


The image below shows the late FCPO(D) Derek 'Nobby' Clark (HMS RECLAIM's Chief Diver) and Les Maynard (HMS RECLAIM's Diving Officer) inspecting a wartime Welman semi-submersible recovered by HMS RECLAIM from Rothesay Bay in January 1973 (see second entry for 7 Mar 09 in News Archive 25).



Postscript: I have heard from Ron Neville via Cliff Coulson-Bonner that Les Maynard's funeral will take place at 1600 on 9 June at Simplicity Funerals, 210 Winton Road in Joondalup, a suburb of Perth in Western Australia.  On completion, money has been put over the Currambine Bar & Bistro for a drink.


5 May 22 - Funeral arrangements for Cdr Stuart John Hayes RN


The funeral of Stuart Hayes (see entry for 21 Apr 22) will take place at 1400 on Tuesday 31 May at Westerleigh Crematorium, Waterside Chapel, Westerleigh Road, Bristol BS37 8QP. Please advise his partner Christina, via this email address, if you plan to attend.


4 May 22 -  Funeral arrangements for Lt Cdr Andrew James 'Sharkey' Ward RN


The funeral of Andy Ward (see entry for 19 Apr 22) will take place at 1030 on Monday 9 May at St Mary’s Church, Church Lane, Portchester PO16 9QW and afterwards at Portchester Sailing Club.


28 Apr 22 - Falklands Veterans Freedom Parade & Memorial Service in Gosport on Sunday 29th May 2022 - Calling Notice


Click to enlarge:



27 Apr 22 - Messages from our outgoing and incoming Presidents


I regret my five-week absence visiting family in the USA, plus a positive test for Covid on my return, have prevented me from publishing these inspiring messages from our outgoing and incoming Presidents until today:


Britannia Royal Naval College,


31 March 2022


Capt (soon to be Cdre) Roger Readwin ADC RN


Outgoing President of the MCDOA - Haul-Down Message:


It has been an absolute privilege and honour being your President for the last five years.  Regrettably due to an impending move overseas, the time has come for me to hand over and post my haul down message.


We have all had a challenging journey these last two years, which has underlined the importance of the need to stay close to family and friends.  The association through these times, has provided an important link for us all in the website (thank you Rob Hoole), in the new Mojo membership system and in those social events that we have managed to hold.  The 2021 dinner was a superb event, bringing together friends and colleagues to recount old yarns, steely tales of daring-do and simply catch up in an environment that reminds us of the spirit, history and ethos of our profession.  The sea shanties were sung with gusto which closed out an outstanding meal in the historic surroundings of the wardroom mess HMS NELSON.


We can all look forward to another notable event on 15 July 2022 in the dedication ceremony of the Vernon Monument, marking the culmination of a huge effort by many of our members, and I know the social secretary is keen to add other activities during the year.


As I focus towards new challenges on distant shores I will always look back on my time as your President with a sense of pride in the MCDOA, its members, affiliates and wider supporters – we may not all be as lean or mean as we were at the outset of the ‘Long Course’ but our metaphorical knives are sharp and we are Ready Aye Ready!  I am absolutely delighted to hand over the Presidency to Captain Ben Vickery Royal Navy, whom I have known for many years, and his current appointment as Capt PUXD (née Capt MFP) makes him a perfect fit to be our figure head into the future.


Captain R R Readwin ADC Royal Navy


Navy Command Headquarters


31 March 2022


Capt Ben Vickery RN


Incoming President - Welcome Address to the MCDOA:


It is with enormous pride that I take over as President of the MCDOA and I would like to thank Roger for his outstanding leadership and direction over the past five years.  I am sure we all wish him every success on promotion to be the Naval Attaché in Washington.


For those who were able to join us I am sure you would wholeheartedly agree what an outstanding evening the annual dinner was last November.  It was great to be back in a Royal Navy mess amongst fellow Divers and MW specialists.  I very much hope we can build upon this in 2022, as we all start to live a life more normal, hopefully with more of the younger and serving generation in attendance, joining together with those retired from the Royal Navy to share stories and experiences on both formal and informal occasions.


There has never been a more exciting time to be in the Diving and MCM community, with new capabilities emerging apace, with the future of the branch never healthier and relishing the challenges of the future.  I am pleased to confirm that the dedication ceremony for the Vernon Monument will take place on Friday 15th July with detail to follow, though my thanks go to the Vernon Monument Management Committee for their ongoing efforts, as well as all those who have supported this project over many years.  It will be a fitting tribute to all that have gone before I am sure.


I look forward to continuing to uphold the reputation of the Association alongside all members and ask that if you have a great idea for an event or an improvement in how the MCDOA does its business, you approach the committee member or myself to discuss.


Yours aye,


Captain Ben Vickery Royal Navy


N.B. Cdr Olly Alexander will hand over Chairmanship of the MCDOA to Cdr Martin Mackey when he is superseded as SODD on Tues 3 May.  We are all grateful to Roger and Olly for their vision, dynamism and commitment during their respective tenures as President and Chairman and we wish them fair winds and following seas in their future appointments.


25 Apr 22 - Latest LS&GC Awards



Congratulations to MCDOA Chairman(desig) Martin Mackey on being gazetted for the award of the 2nd Clasp to his Long Service & Good Conduct Medal signifying '35 years of undetected crime'.


Congratulations also to LS(D) S M Rickets on being gazetted for the award of the Long Service & Good Conduct Medal.

21 Apr 22 - Death of Cdr Stuart John Hayes RN


I am grateful to MCDOA member Bob Hawkins MBE for informing me that Stuart Hayes crossed the bar at the weekend following an accident at home.


Stuart joined the Royal Navy as a midshipman in September 1980.  He subsequently served in the Type 42 destroyer HMS CARDIFF and the Type 22 frigate HMS BOXER before qualifying as an MCDO (Minewarfare & Clearance Diving Officer) on LMCDO ‘85B at HMS VERNON in 1986.



Stuart then served in the Hunt class minehunters HMS BROCKLESBY and HMS BRECON before joining the staff of Britannia Royal Naval College at Dartmouth.


After qualifying as a Principal Warfare Officer (Air) at HMS DRYAD in 1995, Stuart served in the Type 21 frigate HMS AMAZON, the Type 23 frigate HMS LANCASTER, the Type 42 destroyer HMS SOUTHAMPTON and the Type 23 frigate HMS MARLBOROUGH before joining the staff of Flag Officer Sea Training.  He then served on exchange with the Royal Navy of Oman followed by appointments with Fleet Communication Information Systems in Portsmouth and the British Defence Staff in Washington, DC.  Ensuing appointments included working in the Directorate of Command & Control and Information Infrastructure in the Ministry of Defence, on the staff of the Maritime Warfare Centre, loan service with the Pakistan Navy and service in the Defence Safety and Environment Agency (Maritime) at Abbey Wood.  I believe he left the Royal Navy shortly afterwards.


I am sure all members of our community will join me in extending our sincere condolences to his family and close friends.


From MCDOA member Dougie MacDonald


"Hello Rob,


What a shock and very sad news.  I served with his father in the RNR and we shared some fond memories, as I did with Mike McCann’s father.  Small world.  






19 Apr 22 - Death of Lt Cdr Andrew James 'Sharkey' Ward RN



I regret to announce that MCDOA member Andy ‘Sharkey’ Ward crossed the bar on Sunday 17 April after a prolonged fight against oropharyngeal cancer. He was 51 only last month.


Andy joined the Royal Navy as a midshipman in January 1991 and served in the Type 42 destroyer HMS EXETER and the Type 23 frigate HMS MARLBOROUGH before qualifying in 1996 on LMCDO ‘95B.  He subsequently served in the Hunt class minehunters HMS QUORN and HMS ATHERSTONE before joining the staff at Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth followed by Flag Officer Sea Training (Mine Warfare & Patrol Vessels).


Andy served on exchange in Toronto, Canada at EDU, the Experimental Diving Unit at DRDC (Defence Research and Development Canada - formerly DCIEM (Defence and Civil Institute of Environmental Medicine)) 2004-06.  He then commanded Faslane-based NDG (Northern Diving Group) 2006-08 and was Chief Staff Officer (SOO in old money) of FDG (Fleet Diving Group) 2008-09 before a brief appointment at DDS (Defence Diving School).




After leaving the Royal Navy in 2010, Andy managed commercial explosive ordnance disposal operations for Fellows International Ltd and EODEX.  He was also a keen supporter of Project Vernon, the successful campaign to erect a monument at Gunwarf Quays in Portsmouth commemorating the heritage of HMS VERNON and celebrating all those involved - past, present and future - in naval minewarfare, service diving and EOD.


Jason Webb, Andy Ward, Steve Vernon and Andy Woollven

with the Vernon Monument on 16 June 2021



Rob Giles, Neil Marriott, Andy Ward and Mike Loane

with the Vernon Monument on 27 November 2021


I am sure all members of our group will join me in extending our sincere condolences to Andy’s family and close friends.


27 Feb 22 - News of Cdr Andy Woollven RN and Capt Andy Elvin OBE RN


The OGV website contains this article featuring MCDOA members Andy Woollven and Andy Elvin:


Today at Subsea Expo in Aberdeen, EODEX Group, has announced a major expansion into the US market, with the establishment of EODEX US LLC.


The new US subsidiary will be based in Portsmouth, Rhode Island.  Following on from rapid growth of the UK operation and exponential rise in demand for their industry leading deflagration capability, EODEX US LLC will now bring EODEX’s proven world leading environmental UXO disposal solution to the US offshore market.


The new base in Rhode Island will be led by Andrew Elvin OBE.  Andrew is a retired Royal Navy Captain with over 30 years’ experience working alongside and embedded with the US Department of the Navy commands and organizations.  He is ideally situated to collaborate with a number of high-profile US companies who lead the rapidly growing US offshore renewables industry.


EODEX US will offer EODEX’s trademark gentle Low Order Deflagration UXO disposal solutions delivered by US operators; this has already generated considerable interest with federal government bodies responsible for minimising impact on the marine environment through UXO disposal during offshore enabling operations.


Andrew Woollven, Managing Director of EODEX Group said: “The rise of EODEX in the UK to become the leading provider of proven Low Order Deflagration capability has given us the confidence to expand our operation to the US.  We have brought together an amazing team in Rhode Island who are well placed to deliver our exceptional capability to a US market hungry for innovative environmental solutions delivered by our US operational personnel.”


Andrew Elvin, President of EODEX US added: “EODEX US is strategically positioned here in New England to bring its full spectrum of unexploded ordnance risk mitigation capabilities to the offshore renewables industry. “With its proven environmentally conscious techniques, EODEX can deliver safe and effective operations not only offshore, but anywhere minimal impact to the environment is desired. EODEX brings commercial unexploded ordnance disposal into the 21st century."


We wish both Andys well in their endeavours.  EODEX is at the forefront of above and below water unexploded ordnance disposal using low order deflagration techniques in partnership with Alford Technologies.


18 Feb 22 - Invitations for the Vernon Monument Dedication Ceremony




The Vernon Monument Dedication Ceremony will be held at Gunwharf Quays (formerly HMS VERNON) on Friday 15 July 2022.


It is intended that all those who received invitations to the previous (cancelled) 'Unveiling Ceremony’ will automatically receive an invitation to the Dedication Ceremony.


If you did not receive an invitation to the (cancelled) ‘Unveiling Ceremony’ or if you told us you were unable to attend and would now like to come to the Dedication Ceremony please check with Grenville Johnson (The Invitation Coordinator) using the following email address:


If you received an invitation for the original event but are unable to attend on 15th July 2022 please also advise Grenville accordingly.


When contacting Grenville please state:


1. Your title:

2. First Name:

3. Surname:

4. Any national post nominals, e.g. MBE, etc., not BA or Member of xx Society.

5. Your Address including postcode.

6. Your email address

7. The reason you might be eligible to attend, e.g. ex-CPO(MW), etc.


Thank you.


16 Feb 22 - Funeral of Surg Cdr David Hallen Elliott OBE DPhil (Oxon) MB BS MRCP MFCM DObstRCOG RN


I am extremely grateful to MCDOA member Mike Harwood MBE for this account of David Elliott's funeral, together with a copy of the Order of Service (see entry for 28 Jan 22):


"In a private ceremony David Hallen Elliott was committed to God and cremated on the morning of Monday 14th February 2022.  


In the afternoon Family and Friends of David gathered at St Bartholomew’s Church, Haslemere for a service and celebration of his life. Retired Royal Navy diving community members present were: Surg Cdre Jim Sykes and his wife Liz, Surg Cdr Mark Glover, Ralph Mavin, Vic Humphrey and Mike Harwood.  


Click here for a copy of the Order of Service in pdf format:          



The Readings and Tributes by David’s grandchildren recalled his love and affection for them and reminded us of our friend and mentor, who offered us sound advice always with a smile and a great sense of humour.  


Here are the words of a Memories of David - A eulogy given by Adam Leach.


Professor David Elliott OBE


Professor of Occupational Medicine at the Robens Institute (b 1932; q St Bartholomew’s Hospital 1956).

Died on 18 January 2022 after a valiant fight with cancer.


I have been asked to say a few words on behalf of the family about David’s life and work and his many achievements.


David Hallen Elliott was born in London in 1932 to Philip and Hilda Elliott. The outbreak of the Second World War, when David was just 7, caused massive disruption to family life and his schooling.  His parents both joined the Army and he was evacuated to a family and to school west of London.


From there he went on to King’s School, Canterbury.


He trained as a doctor at St Bartholomew’s Hospital Medical school, qualifying with a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery with Honours, and awarded a Mark of Distinction in Obstetrics and Gynaecology in 1956. There he met his future wife, June (then Carlton), a nurse, whom he married in 1960 and whom he loved very much until his death.


After qualifying at Barts, David did three years of National Service in the Navy where he spent extended time at sea, including one long trip to map the coast of what is now Malaysian Borneo and returning with excellent skills in preparing south eastern Asian cuisine, the benefits of which many of you will have enjoyed.  He then went to Magdalen College Oxford where he studied for and was awarded his D.Phil in anatomy in 1964.  This experience helped to nurture his life-long interest in research.


After Oxford he was invited to return to the Navy as a research scientist, remaining there for 16 years and rising to the rank of Surgeon Commander.  He specialised in research in Underwater Medicine, becoming a world-wide authority on the ‘bends’.  A highlight of this period was that David spent three years seconded by the British Navy to the Naval Research Laboratory in Bethesda, in the United States of America from 1969-72, working with the US Navy on underwater medicine and which included aspects of the NASA space programme. His dedication and achievement were recognised with an OBE for the impact of his research into diving medicine.


David’s family also benefitted greatly from extensive holiday travel around the coasts and national parks of the USA and Canada.  One of these trips included a visit to the giant redwood trees that David’s mother had famously driven through in a horse and carriage on one of her childhood visits to the USA, by sea, from Shanghai, many years before.


After leaving the Navy in 1976, David joined Shell as Chief Medical Officer for Shell UK, caring for those involved in the oil industry, and particularly for divers working in the North Sea.  He made friends there that he remained close to for the rest of his life.


He left Shell in 1989 to become Professor of Occupational Medicine at the Robens Institute in Surrey University. Over these years, David had enormous fun travelling often to the Caribbean and providing morning lectures on diving medicine to American doctors then scuba diving in the afternoons.


David was a prodigious worker and he wrote celebrated texts on Diving Medicine, including the go-to textbook for Diving Medicine now in its 5th edition.  He enjoyed lecturing and was also a highly experienced and much sought-after expert witness in numerous complex diving accident cases.


What then of David, the Person?  David was an only child until he was 18 and the birth of his twin younger brothers, Bob and John.  As a result of not having a normal home and family life as a child, his family and family life became his deepest passion and the most important aspect of his life. 


David was a strong, caring and fair man with a strong sense of humour who was well respected by all who knew him.  He is remembered by those who met him as a very elegant, gracious man with a charming manner and a keen interest in others.  His own interests included scuba diving of course.  He also loved music, with a passion for jazz and classical music.  He enjoyed cooking - the spicier the better - and he loved to organise regular Sunday BBQs for large groups of family and friends. He had many good friends who knew him as a steadfast companion and to whom they could turn for friendship, laughter and support.  David had a twinkle in his eye and a great sense of fun, and would joke and tease gently to bring out the lighter side of life.   Even in his last few weeks he would pretend to take his pills by putting them in his ear, and was known to spray the shower head at his carers rather than the other way around.  


In his younger life he was something of a dancer and took delight in dancing to the Marine Band and in learning to jive.  David was also a man of deep intelligence and insights, with a voracious appetite for knowledge, learning and experience.  An old friend considered him much cleverer than his other friends and colleagues and this showed with early inclinations to research and even to study law for the Bar in his spare time while at sea before other distractions became available.


In what should have been retirement for him, David took a growing interest in his own faith and religion, engaging enthusiastically with his friends at church in Haslemere.  As a member of the King’s Fund, he and June actively cared for vulnerable girls in India and supported several orphaned children throughout the full length of their education.  He often spoke of life being too short for all the things he would like to know more about, and never quite getting around to the deep study of human pre-history that he had planned for his retirement, partly because, in his own mind, he never did quite retire from diving medicine.


Our Memories of David David met June at Bart’s Hospital during his treatment for suspected polio.  June was the staff nurse on his ward and quickly recognised that this cheeky medical student would need some firm management.  The romance blossomed after he tipped her upside down into a dirty linen bin.  They were married in 1960 in June’s home village of Wilberfoss in Yorkshire and on 16 January this year they celebrated 62 years of good married life together.


They had four daughters - Jo, Kathy, Susie and Pippa - whom David absolutely adored and of each of whom he was very proud.  As a family, they enjoyed many adventures together and David nurtured that sense of passion for travel and adventure in his family.  He was always there to provide advice and to be a sounding board for any big decisions in their lives.  


He was very generous to everyone and took a great interest in other’s lives and needs.  As a source of great delight to David and June in later life, together they welcomed and hugely enjoyed being an active part of the lives of their eight granddaughters and a grandson - each of whom he loved deeply and was equally proud of.


Living to the age of 89, an unprecedented age in his own family history, means that many of David’s friends pre-deceased him.  However, we have no doubt they are now welcoming him with open arms and sharing stories over Chinese food.  


David will be missed enormously and deeply but after a valiant fight with cancer, he has now passed on.


We all loved David.  He loved all of us especially June, Jo, Kathy, Susie, and Pippa; each of his four sons-in-law and of course all his grandchildren.  He knew he was loved deeply and steadfastly and that was what meant the most to him to the very moment of his death.  He was always grateful for the love and support he received from all his family.  This love was precious to him and I am certain he would want us all to carry with us the love he gave to each one of us.


Rest in Peace David, we will all miss you."


15 Feb 22 - Latest LS&GC Awards


Congratulations to MCDOA member Tim 'Castro' Castrinoyannakis and LS(D) Alex Talbot on being gazetted for the award of the Naval Long Service & Good Conduct Medal, signifying 15 years of undetected crime.


12 Feb 22 - News from Capt David 'Topsy' Turner RNZN


Capt David 'Topsy' Turner RNZN


MCDOA member David 'Topsy' Turner joined the Royal Navy as a 16 year-old Junior Electrical Mechanic in 1974 and was commissioned as an officer in 1978.  I was his course officer when he qualified as an MCD officer in 1984 and we worked together on the Saudi minehunter project circa 1990.  After commanding the Sandown class minehunter HMS CROMER and the Northern Diving Group, he transferred to the RNZN in 2004 and has since commanded HMNZS Canterbury and HMNZS Philomel, concurrently acting as the Naval Base Commander in Devonport, NZ.  I am grateful to him for his latest update:


"Hi Rob,  


As promised, here's an update from 'our MCDO in South Korea'.  


Yvonne and I arrived in the evening of Friday 14 January from a blissfully warm and beautiful New Zealand summer to the shock of minus 10 degrees, snow and the forecast of a high of minus 2 degrees the following day.  We had packed accordingly though and dressed suitably for the flight (and our arrival) but I still wished I'd packed my woolly bear and mitts!  We were escorted to a local testing station for our first PCR test before being allowed to self isolate at a Seoul city centre hotel for 24 hours until the negative results came back.  Everyone else on our flight had to isolate for 7 days - perks of being a diplomat on an A1 visa I guess!!  


We spent a fairly quiet weekend in Seoul city center at the same hotel where we'd isolated just getting our bearings and sussing out where to eat and shop for when we moved into our 22 floor apartment the following Saturday.  The Colonel I was relieving would move into the hotel and we would do a handover of the inventory and all that jazz.  Anyway, the real handover started on the Monday with introductions to the NZ Ambassador (also called Turner but I said there could only ever be one Topsy in the Embassy).  


In short, I'm the NZ Defence Attaché to South Korea for the next three years with a couple of other hats.  I'm also the Senior National Officer to our NZDF folks who are here at the United Nations HQ as well as on the Military Armistice Commission.  New Zealand is the second largest contributor to the UN here on the Korean peninsular behind the US who have 28,000 personnel - we have 12!  Not 12,000 - just 12!  The other job is the Chief Liaison Officer to the UN Command which means I get to go on some really interesting visits to the Demilitarised Zone and the Joint Security Area as well as inspections and stuff along the length of the border with North Korea.  I doubt I'll be looking for too much other work with that plate full.  


I've attached a couple of photos.  Hopefully they'll make sense.


Receiving my accreditation


And so the real work starts. This HQ is about 60 miles south of Seoul

where the NZDF personnel work


With Yvonne at the 38th parallel, the arbitrary border decided between

the US and Soviet Union after the Second World War


At the Joint Security Area with North Korea's border building in the background.

This is where Trump and Kim Jong Un shook hands.


I'm actually standing in North Korea!


It's a real golf course - true dit!


The frozen Imjin River as it comes out of North Korea


By the time I leave here I'll be six months off being 68 so I'm planning on retiring for sure!  Goodness knows what I'll do but, as we're having our next house built whilst we're away, I'm sure there will be plenty to keep me busy either in the house or in the garden of almost one acre.  Mind you, I'm thinking that I might not have the energy to do it any justice!   






I am sure all members of our community will join me in extending Topsy and Yvonne our best wishes for their time in Korea.


8 Feb 22 - Funeral of Cdr Alan Thomas John Padwick OBE RN


The church was packed to the rafters at Bishops Cannings near Devizes yesterday for the funeral of Alan Padwick (see entry for 27 Feb 22).  Attendees included MCDOA members Mike Harwood MBE, Martyn Holloway, Ralph Mavin, Tim Paul MBE and his wife Deborah, Jon Riches and his wife Anne, David Sandiford and Yours Truly (Rob Hoole),  It was also good to see MCDOA committee member Bob Hawkins MBE in uniform.  He was SOO when Alan was Commander of the 10th (RNR) MCM Squadron and gave a fine reading while Tim Paul delivered a glowing eulogy.


Click here for a copy of the Order of Service in pdf format:



Here are the words of Tim's eulogy:




Alan joined the Royal Navy at Dartmouth in 1958.  After his initial training he gained a broad experience of naval operations, qualifying as a shallow water diver and serving in minesweepers based in MALTA. Scotland then beckoned and he was appointed to a fishery protection frigate HMS Malcolm heavily involved in the Cod War off Iceland.  Here the joys of diving in the Mediterranean were replaced with particularly arduous tasks in the cold, including clearing a fishing net entangled in the propeller of a British trawler.   


Then to an ancient frigate in the Far East as Navigating Officer during the Indonesian Confrontation that including visits to Hong Kong and Borneo.  Thereafter he served in HMS Albion newly commissioned as a commando carrier and later in HMS Centaur as officer of the watch during fixed wing flight operations. He had a fill in job navigating a coal fired boom defence vessel normally employed servicing mooring buoys.  On passage it ran out of steam off East Anglia when the boiler became choked due to the over enthusiastic shovelling of coal by the stokers.  In 1965 he became second in command of HMS Beachampton and deployed to the Middle East.  They were at the final withdrawal of British Forces from Aden and then employed on anti-smuggling patrols in the Persian Gulf.


In 1966 he was selected to specialise in Minewarfare and Clearance Diving.  The course comprised intensive diving training, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, and all aspects of mining.  It was demanding and challenging building up considerable physical fitness both in the water and out of it.  


Of his nine fellow students, Alan is remembered as a wise and moderating influence among his peers.  He excelled on course winning the Superintendent of Diving’s trophy as the top student.  


In 1967 Alan then went to HMS Nurton as second in command and specialist Officer with responsibilities for overseeing the operational standards in other ships in the squadron.  At that time there were considerable quantities of WW 2 mines still active and dangerous in the Baltic and off the Northern European coast. HMS Nurton had a major role in clearing mines and wrecks off the Netherlands coast to create the safe channel into Europort.  On another occasion they located the Aer Lingus Viscount aircraft that crashed mysteriously close to the Tuskar Rock in Ireland, with serious loss of life.  


Two years later Alan returned to HMS Vernon (now Gunwharf Quays) as the senior instructor in mine warfare.  He  was closely involved in producing a display for 1969 Navy Days in the Dockyard.  The following year he became the course officer for the long MCD, course a job which he loved.  He led from the front motivating his students and doing much of the instruction himself. He instilled into us a degree of physical fitness some of us had never known, through diving, mud runs and surface swims, one seemingly closer to Cherbourg than Falmouth where our base, food and drink happened to be.  Our task was to get back to base before the diving ship.  He was a kindly but demanding leader, wise, approachable and much respected.  


Later commanding  HMS Laleston, the deep diving training ship, with a future First Sea Lord as his first lieutenant, Alan ever keen to do things differently, rescheduled  the ship’s programme, changing from local diving training in Falmouth and Fort William to include deployments to Norway and the Mediterranean.  


Alan was then selected to attend the United States Naval War College at Newport Rhode Island.  This was a turning point in his career, broadening his horizons and bringing him into contact with officers from 17 other allied countries worldwide many of whom remained long term friends.  


Back in UK he was asked to review the design for the new  GRP constructed Hunt class vessels. Applying his eye for detail, he succeeded in bringing in a number of important changes to these vessels, many of which are still in service today.  


In 1974 Alan joined the Staff of the Captain Mine Countermeasures based at Port Edgar on the Firth of Forth. Hardly had he arrived than a signal arrived from the Naval Attaché in Egypt who had suggested to the Egyptians that the Royal Navy possessed the necessary expertise to clear the Suez Canal of all explosive debris left over from the Six day war and the Yom Kippur War of 1973.  Alan was immediately fired up by this project .  With MOD blessing he took a team of specialists to Cairo to brief the Egyptians and to carry out a recce on site.   


The recce took them to Port Said, Port Fuad and to sites where army actions had taken place.  Alan and Bob White (a member of the recce team) dived at many of these sites using Russian supplied diving equipment borrowed from the Egyptian Navy.  As the result of the recce and Navy to Navy talks, the RN were invited to participate in the clearance operation.  


Based back at Port Edgar Alan became UK focal point for the Suez Canal Clearance operation and drove it forward to implementation.  When the task force arrived in the Canal, he remained our home link, analysing the outcomes, recommending future actions and visited us in theatre, diving with us on several occasions.  


As well as Egypt he continued with his day job of looking after the operational effectiveness of the numerous MCM vessels.  


After Scotland he was appointed to HMS Galatia as First Lieutenant and second in command.  When his captain was away with other ships of the squadron, Alan deputised for him taking the ship to sea when required.  Galatia spent much time in the North Atlantic monitoring Russian Navy movements.  Breaks in this routing included the 1977 Silver Jubilee Fleet Review at Spithead and operational training at Portland, a Mediterranean visit including to Israel where Alan was able to hear the other side of the Yom Kippur war to that from the Egyptians in 1974.   


He was also the ships doctor.  He and the Petty Officer medical attendant together successfully diagnosed a brain haemorrhage.  The patient was duly dispatched ashore and was successfully treated.  


Appointed to NATO HQ at Kolsaas in Norway for what should have been a three-year appointment he was selected for promotion and returned to UK after a year.   


At the Fleet HQ at Northwood he was to be the staff officer with responsibility for seamanship, damage control and  firefighting, the responsibilities that had been on his plate as first lieutenant of Galatia.  


Recognising a serious shortcoming in seamanship performance in the Fleet, he put together a comprehensive plan for improvement. Close liaison with the MOD, training establishments and the Fleet ensured that his proposals were at once accepted and implemented the day the Falkland’s War started.  The system he introduced is still in service today.  


In the Falklands War Alan was in charge of the night watch at the Joint HQ assembling the facts and briefing senior officers.  He still had his day job that became frenetic when HMS Sheffield was hit by an Exocet missile.  He had learnt from an account, written in 1944, of all the things wrong in naval ship construction which at that time that were hazardous in a combat situation. By 1982, 75% of these faults had re-emerged through cost saving and convenience.  His immediate task was to change what could be changed.  His priority was to introduce fire retardant clothing and replace easy care flammable material and furnishings.  


Another immediate requirement he identified was the extra provision of escape breathing apparatus.  The need became apparent when many people died from smoke inhalation in the first attacks. Against civil service and Treasury insistence that five sets for boiler room escape were sufficient, Alan won the argument that a scale of one and a half sets per person on board must be provided – about 300 per frigate.    


Alan’s Falklands legacies continue to benefit the RN today.  


After the Falklands War, back in Portsmouth as Superintendent of Diving, Alan was again back as his innovative best and in his preferred environment as the Navy’s top diver.  His first task was to improve the deep diving system in HMS Challenger, which he achieved in a collaborative programme with the Canadian Navy and Norsk Hydro.  All achieved through his diplomatic skills, at no extra cost to the Treasury.  


The operational management of Navy diving was next to come under his scalpel. The Navy diving task was and is, shipboard and underwater Explosive Ordnance Disposal.   He caused the reallocation of this capability, from being under various area commanders with no clear chain of command, to the Commander in Chief Fleet as front line assets in the form as the new Fleet Diving Squadron.  With improved location and mobility, the Squadron became better able to meet national requirements.  This organisation he created, is still in operation today and now includes a permanent unit in the Persian Gulf.  


Alan also set up the NATO Diving Group. This he achieved in 18 months against the expected 5 years of the prevailing officialdom.  When complemented he is reported to have responded diplomatically “what do you expect from divers?  If something has to be done, we get on with it without regard to the bureaucracy”.  


Later, appointed to MOD, which he did not enjoy, the Peace Dividend did away with HMS Challenger on which he had expended so much energy. He did manage to persuade Margaret Thatcher through a succinct paper to the Naval staff, to send minehunters to the Persian Gulf to deal with a growing mine threat.  On a mission to the Saudi Navy and meeting a former colleague from the US Naval War College, he was instrumental in persuading the Saudi Navy to buy UK minehunters as part of the Al Yamama programme, a £1 billion deal.  


A consolation of his time is London was his introduction to narrow boating which stood him in good stead when he acquired his final command – The Queen of Sheba.  


Then after two years spent teaching Naval Reserves the intricacies of control of Marchant ships, Alan was appointed to Command the 10th Mine Countermeasures Squadron.  This comprised 11 River Class minesweepers of the Royal Naval Reserve, employing about 2500 personnel.    Alan loved the work, as ever applying himself to the task with great imagination, leading training deployments to Spain, France, Germany, Netherlands and around Britain.   


Alan qualified as a diver in 1960 when he was a midshipman.  He made his last working dive Rosyth Harbour keeping his diving qualification  in date until he retired in June 1993.  


Many friends and colleagues have expresses their memories of Alan.  These are some of them ·       


A steady hand on the tiller    ·       


A giant of a man and Naval officer, and artist ·       


At a time of great change, he led with determination, vision and a great sense of humour ·       


His words were always friendly, helpful and wise   


Alan was apponted an OBE in the 1993 Birthday Honours.  In his citation the Commodore of HMNB Rosyth said: “He [has] concluded a long and distinguished Naval career with an outstanding performance as leader of the Tenth MCM Squadron”.  Flag Officer Scotland and Northern Ireland said: “A model of a loyal and highly professional naval officer” .  The Commander in Chief Fleet said: [he has shown] “Outstanding dedication, leadership and professionalism and made [a] major contribution to the Tenth MCM Squadron and the RNR”.    


Alan we all agree with every word they said.  We all miss you very much.


1 Feb 22 - Transformation of Fleet Diving Squadron into Diving & Threat Exploitation Group



As previously configured, the Fleet Diving Squadron (FDS) comprised:


Northern Diving Group (Commanded by MCDOA member Mark Shaw)


There are divers.  Then there’s the Northern Diving Group.  These experts dispose of bombs and marine mines, repair submarines, and undertake underwater rescues.


Based in Her Majesty’s Naval Base Clyde, Northern Diving Group (NDG) is made up of 40 Royal Navy Clearance Divers and support staff. The group sp ecialise in the key areas of In-Water Maintenance and Repair (IWMAR) and Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD).  Providing IWMAR specifically to Royal Navy Submarines both in the UK and overseas, the team are at 24-hours’ notice to deploy anywhere in the world - whether that's in home waters, European seas, or oceanic destinations from North America to the Asia-Pacific.  With the only divers throughout Defence with the specialist capability of enclosed space diving, a niche requirement for IWMAR on submarines, NDG continues to succeed in its essential role however challenging the environment and theatre.  Fulfilling service and duty on the global stage, NDG operates as the leading diving group for the NATO Submarine Rescue System.  Delivering personnel to operate this extremely complex rescue chamber system - a globally deployable network of recompression chambers and mini submersibles, the group is capable of rescuing stricken submariners on demand.


The Northern Diving Group is at 10 minutes notice for OP TAPESTRY - the UK Armed Forces’ standing commitment of Military Aid to Civil Authorities for Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD).  The group's maritime area of responsibility starts at the high-water mark in Liverpool, runs clockwise to the Shetland Islands and finishes in Hull.  This is the largest operational area of any Diving Group.  Shared with our Army colleagues, NDG also provide land EOD support to civil authorities.


Southern Diving Group


The Southern Diving Group is one of the Royal Navy’s two Fleet Squadron Area Diving Groups.  With exceptional bravery and skill, the Southern Diving Group keep British waters free from explosive ordnance.


Based across two bases - Her Majesty’s Naval Base Devonport, Plymouth and Horsea Island, Portsmouth - Southern Diving Group (SDG) is made up of around 60 Royal Navy Clearance Divers and support staff.  Highly trained divers and Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) experts, the diving group is responsible for removing all Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) found in tidal waters below the high-water mark, on vessels, and at offshore and inshore properties.  Additionally, the unit carries out Improvised Explosive Device Disposal (IEDD) at land and sea in support of the public or local authorities.  Also on standby to fulfil essential service and duty on the global stage, SDG provides support to the NATO Submarine Rescue System.  Able to deliver a dedicated team working on this extremely complex rescue chamber system - a globally deployable network of recompression chambers and mini submersibles, the group is capable of contributing to rescue efforts for stricken submariners.


With a day job that combines bomb disposal and underwater diving, the Mine Clearance Divers of the Southern Diving Group are among the most highly skilled and fearless personnel in the Royal Navy.  Southern Diving Group’s primary role is to keep UK waters free from unexploded wartime ordnance.  Despite their age, unexploded bombs and mines pose a serious threat both to the public and to critical national infrastructure. We also complete a range of more general duties - from water maintenance and repair to battle damage assessments.  Our vital work demonstrates the Royal Navy’s continued contribution to the safety of the public and maritime traffic and gives an insight into daring, expertise and bravery of Royal Navy Divers.


Expeditionary Diving Group


Expeditionary Diving Group globally deploys dedicated and motivated Clearance Divers armed with world class expeditionary diving and explosive ordnance capabilities to defeat and exploit complex conventional and improvised threats.


Expeditionary Diving Group (XDG) is ready to deploy to a Task Group Navy on, under or near the sea around the clock on every day of the year to respond to, defeat and exploit complex Explosive Ordnance (EO) threats, both conventional and improvised. The Group is made up of three units with specific skill sets in addition to the above core operations.  Assisted by small teams of enablers such as medical, logistics, communications, and Mine Warfare Specialists - who operate our Automated Underwater Vehicles, XDG is ready to deploy 24hrs a day.


Expeditionary Diving Unit One (XDU1) is a globally deployable Clearance Diving Unit (CDU) for the underwater force protection (UWFP) and in-water maintenance and repair (IWMAR) of the Royal Navy’s Maritime Task Groups (MTG).  XDU1 is routinely deployed on board the Queen Elizabeth Class carriers.  Capable of disposing of conventional and improvised Explosive Ordnance (EO) threats and conducting Battle Damage Repair (BDR) XDU1 also routinely provides maintenance in the water.


Expeditionary Diving Unit Two (XDU2) maintains readiness for worldwide Expeditionary Mine-Countermeasures (Ex-MCM).  XDU2 routinely partners with the Royal Marines Littoral Strike Groups (LSG) as part of the Pre-Landing Forces, clearing landing craft approach lanes and beaches.  With work including underwater search and clearance of fairways, harbours and critical maritime infrastructure, XDU2 is the Very Shallow Water (VSW) specialist unit.  Routinely partnered with the Royal Marines LSG, it focuses on MCM diving operations and Maritime Explosive Ordnance Disposal (M-EOD) including Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).


Expeditionary Diving Unit Three (XDU3) is always at very-high readiness for global contingent Expeditionary Mine-Countermeasures (Ex-MCM) operations.  XDU3's specialist skill set is to exploit any explosive ordnance through Maritime Weapons Technical Intelligence (WTI(M)), including Mine Investigation and Exploitation and Maritime Explosive Ordnance Disposal (M-EOD) including Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).  A Clearance Diving Unit, XDU3  are capable of conducting underwater search and clearance of fairways, harbours and critical maritime infrastructure.  Specilising in explosive ordnance exploitation, they can be the difference to key strategic and tactical advantage.


Expeditionary Diving Group units were deployed globally on 19 separate operations in 2021, and completed multiple international exercises.  The three units of XDG continue to succeed and excel at safely identifying and neutralising underwater threats, including any conventional or improvised explosive hazards, exploiting those threats to gain operational advantage.


Tactical Diving Group


The Tactical Diving Group is one of the Royal Navy’s Diving Groups. With highly trained divers in assault and maritime device disposal the group also deliver training for specialised 100% 02 divers.


Tactical Diving Group is made up of specialist divers working with engineers and mine warfare personnel to deliver a highly skilled capability in the underwater environment.  With personnel ready to move 365 days a year on worldwide operations, whether that is Maritime Counter Terrorism (MCT), or providing Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) expertise for assaults on Oil Rigs or Ships.  Also capable of being parachuted in to provide rescue support to submariners in a stricken submarine, the unit personnel are also able to deliver the essential follow up medical care with the expert use of Recompression Chambers.


Ready to deploy 365 days a year to operate with other forces and specialist units around the globe, EOD plays an important part in the expertise that TDG bring.  The unit goes much further than essential support and excellence alone, though.  Unique in having personnel qualified to deliver specific training within the group or to other military divers, TDG provides dedicated expertise across a wide range of diving procedures and specialist equipment.  Notably delivering training for specialised 100% 02 divers, the group is also proud to have spent more minutes under water than other dive units across the fleet in recent years.



Effective from 31 January 2022, the Fleet Diving Squadron has been transformed into the Diving & Threat Exploitation Group (DTXG).  I am grateful to its Commanding Officer, MCDOA member Cdr Sean 'Central' Heaton MBE RN, for this information:




Following an initial phase of Transformation in 2020 which rationalised and restructured the FDS, there have subsequently been two senior level reviews of military diving. These have resulted in direction to conduct a second more ambitious and comprehensive transformation of FDS (T2).  Through internal rebrigading DTXG is now structured to deliver Diving, Exploitation and Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) force elements with greater availability, sustainability and lethality.  Capitalising on the MCMV drawdown it will be resourced to meet the additional future requirements of a more technologically advanced and deployed RN.  T2 has been forged around the previous transformation successes and now delivers a DTXG which is global, modern and ready to deliver.


Key Effects


DTXG will deliver six key operational effects:


Naval Special Operations (NSOps) – Specialist diving, maritime and land EOD and maritime exploitation capabilities.


Mine Hunting Capability (MHC) – Persistent mixed-gas underwater EOD and exploitation capabilities to the MHC.


Maritime Task Group (MTG) – Persistent diving and In Water Maintenance & Repair (IWMAR) support to the QEC carriers and the MTG, capable of providing Under Water Force Protection (UWFP) to the whole force.


Littoral Response Group / Future Commando Force (LRG / FCF) – Persistent mixed-gas diving and maritime and land EOD capabilities to the LRG or JEF(M), able to operate and integrate with Commando Forces


In Water Maintenance And Repair (IWMAR) – Very high readiness diving capabilities, including confined space entry, to provide IWMAR and Battle / Peacetime Damage Repair (BDR / PDR) to SURFLOT and SUBFLOT platforms.


Homeland Defence – Specialist diving, maritime and land EOD capabilities for MACA [Military Aid to the Civil Authorities], EOD under MOD / Home Office SLAs [Service Level Agreements] and Directives.




The transformation process to DTXG includes the following stages: Rebrigade, Resource, Rebrand and Relaunch; ultimately generating multi-disciplinary Mission Teams able to deliver globally deployable specialist Maritime EOD, Diving and Under Water Battlespace (UWB) exploitation capabilities to operational commanders.




To meet these current and future demands in a more agile manner, DTXG has rebrigaded iaw the structure illustrated below.



Force Laydown


There will be no initial change to the geographic laydown, however it is anticipated Mission Teams will eventually be dispersed to locations which support capability output. A summary of the comprising elements of DTXG follows:


DTXG HQ and Operational Support Squadron (Portsmouth).  HQ and Sqn supporting elements


Alpha Squadron (formerly Tactical Diving Group) – NSOps facing, located at Horsea Island, Portsmouth.


Bravo Squadron (formerly Southern Diving Group) – Homeland Defence and IWMAR diving to SURFLOT, geographically distributed between Horsea Island, Portsmouth and HMNB Devonport


Charlie Squadron (formerly Northern Diving Group) – Homeland Defence and IWMAR diving to SUBFLOT, located in HMNB Clyde.


Delta Squadron (formerly Expeditionary Diving Group) – MTG, LRG / JEF(M) facing, located at Horsea Island, Portsmouth.


Echo Squadron (New) – MHC and exploitation facing, initially located at Horsea Island, Portsmouth, with options to disperse force elements to HMNB Clyde and Devonport as the MHC matures.




Rebranding to the Diving & Threat Exploitation Group aligns with the RN’s vision for the future of the Under Water Battle Space, supports future diving, EOD and MCM, while more clearly describing the capabilities of the organisation.  It also ensures DTXG remains in concert with transformation of the Autonomous MCM Squadron, recently rebranded to Mine Threat Exploitation Group (MTXG) and recognises the close connection between the two organisations.  Furthermore, the use of subordinate squadrons within a group, more closely reflects the structures of the other forces DTXG is aligned to, which will enable closer synergies in the delivery of operations.




This ambitious and comprehensive phase of transformation will ensure DTXG remains aligned with Navy Transformation and the future UWB vision.  Through modernisation and rebrigading it will become more relevant, available and deployable for the RN.


28 Jan 22 - Death of Surg Cdr David Hallen Elliott OBE DPhil (Oxon) MB BS MRCP MFCM DObstRCOG RN


Surg Cdr David Elliott OBE RN


I am grateful to Surg Cdre Jim Sykes for informing me that his fellow MCDOA associate member, Professor David Elliott, crossed the bar on Tuesday 18 January.  He was 89. 


David will be well known to the 'old and bold' for his practical diving medicine and research during the 1960s and 1970s at INM (Institute of Naval Medicine) and RNPL (Royal Naval Physiological Laboratory) at Alverstoke and AEDU (Admiralty Experimental Diving Unit) at HMS Vernon and his service as the medical officer of HMS Reclaim during many air and heliox deep diving trials and operations.  He contributed the 'Diving Accident' chapters to BSAC manuals and held a position of Technical Advisor on the Council of the National Underwater Instructors Association.  His professional book entitled 'The Physiology and Medicine of Diving and Work in Compressed Air', co-authored with Dr P B Bennett, became the standard reference work in the field.  In 1969, he became Honorary President of the Southsea Branch of the BSAC (British Sub Aqua Association).


David left the Royal Navy in 1976 to pursue an illustrious career in civilian life during which he published many important research papers.  He was also the Chief Medical Officer of Shell, a renowned expert witness in diving related legal cases and an active Honorary Vice President of the HDS (Historical Diving Society).  As recently as 2012, he was reappointed as a Civilian Consultant in Diving Medicine and Physiology to the Royal Navy for a further three years.


David's funeral will be held on Monday 14 February at 1430 at St Bartholomew's Chruch, Haslemere, Surrey  GU27 1BW.  I am sure all members of our community will join me in extending our sincere condolences to his wife June, their children Jo, Kathy, Susie and Pippa, and their nine grandchildren.


From John Pennefather (Scientific Officer at the Royal Australian Navy Submarine and Underwater Medicine Unit 1972-2001)


"Hi Rob,


It has been a long time since David visited Australia and I suspect only a few of us will remember his visits.  I have good memories of a charming and knowledgeable man and am pleased he had a good innings.


My sympathies to his family.


Regards to my ex-RN friends,


John Pennefather"


From Mike Harwood MBE (LMCDO '67)


"Hi Rob  


A very sad message.  


I first met David in 1967 while still on LMCDO course.  It was at the compression chamber at the top of the Mining Tank at HMS VERNON during a complicated therapeutic decompression of a bend which had come on some hours after an experimental dive.  The treatment schedule was also experimental and was set out on a blackboard.  David, with a six inch slide rule in his left hand and a duster and chalk in his right hand, was amending the schedule.  "Experimental diving at the chalk face".  It sparked my interest in diving safety.  


Since that encounter our paths crossed many times during my service in the Royal Navy and the Health and Safety Executive. Whenever I asked David for medical advice on diving or related health and safety matters he would reply in easily comprehended terminology.  I am forever thankful for that.  


David epitomised the term "An English Gentleman".  


Rest in Peace David, the worldwide diving community is in a safer place due to your dedication to our safety.  






From Ralph Mavin (LMCDO '72)


"Hi Rob,


I knew David since I qualified as an MCD Officer in 1972, initially, on the odd occasion as Duty Diving Officer with a bends case in HMS Vernon's pot or watch-keeping at RNPL and latterly when with the Department of Energy, Health & Safety Executive and the European Diving and Medical groups.


He was obviously incredibly knowledgeable on the medical aspects but very wise on the wider aspects of the politics of decisions.  No matter how tense the “discussions”, he remained calm, collected and the perfect gentleman at all times - a lesson to us all.


A great loss.




27 Jan 22 - Death of Cdr Alan Thomas John Padwick OBE RN


Your humble Webmaster with Alan Padwick on 28 January 2012


I have been incommunicado for the past week but returned last night to learn that MCDOA member Alan Padwick crossed the bar on the morning of Monday 24 January.  He had been suffering from cancer for several months and I last heard from him less than a fortnight ago when he announced that he had placed himself under the auspices of a hospice although he intended staying at home to die.  It seems only yesterday that Alan and I were enjoying lunchtime gatherings in the wardroom bar at HMS VERNON.  As a young Sub Lt in the early 1970s, I was in awe of him and the other stalwarts of the branch in divers' corner, so many of whom have now sadly crossed the bar.


Alan qualified as an MCD officer as a Lt in 1966, the same year the MCD Branch was introduced.



Some of the course members celebrated their 50th anniversary at our Annual Dinner in 2016.


LMCDO '66 members John Lang, Alan Padwick, John Ludgate and John Coggins

celebrating the 50th anniversary of their course


During his naval career, he served in many roles involving mine warfare and diving including:


1958  Joined BRNC



1961  HMS MINER VI   XO  Malta

1962  HMS MALCOLM  Fishery Protection Squadron SCOTLAND.  Promoted Lt Apr 63

1964  LOAN  outward bound  Moray Sea School

1964  HMS LOCH KILLISPORT NO   Far East confrontation

1965  HMS ALBION Quarter Deck Officer

           HMS CENTAUR - Fill-in job

           HMS BARBICAN  - NO - fill in job

1965  HMS BEACHAMPTON XO  Aden and Persian Gulf


1967  HMS NURTON  XO  SO 1st MCM Squadron


1970  COURSE OFFICER LONG MCM COURSE  Promoted Lt Cdr Apr 71



1973  VERNON



1979  HQ AFNORTH Promoted Commander 31 Dec

1979 1980 CINCFLEET STAFF - Staff Officer NBCD and Seamanship (Falklands War)


1986  MOD DNW SMCDO (minehunters to the Gulf)




Retired June 1993  

OBE Birthday Honours 1993

Interpreter 2nd Class Norwegian


Alan left the Royal Navy soon after being appointed an OBE in the 1993 New Year Honours.  He then spent many years cruising the canals in his narrow boat, QUEEN OF SHEBA, with his second wife Sarah.  They enjoyed painting and exhibited their work wherever they stopped.  Alan often hosted his MCD course mates on board, too.  See Alan's article titled 'Divers on the Cut' in the MCDOA website's 'Dit Box' for further background and images.  Also see Alan's account of his return to Norway, a frequent haunt of HMS LALESTON during his time in Command, in the entry for 8 Jun 13 in News Archive 42 of the MCDOA website.


Alan was also a keen supporter of Project Vernon, the camapign that resulted in the installation and unveiling of the Vernon Mine Warfare & Diving Monument in Gunwharf Quays (formerly HMS VERNON) in March 2020.



Sarah has advised us that Alan's funeral will take place on Monday, 7 February at 1430 at St Mary the Virgin Church, Bishops Cannings, SN10 2JZ and afterwards at The Crown Inn next door.  The pub has parking, and there is parking at the crossroads just north of the church and on the road between the two and on the right hand road at the crossroads.  If you are able to attend, please email Sarah Padwick at this address.  Also, please take a Covid rapid flow test before coming and bring a mask with you.


In the meantime, I am sure all members of our community will join me in extending our sincere condolences to Alan's wife Sarah, as well as their three children. 


From Ralph Mavin (LMCDO '72)


"Hi Rob,


Another very sad notice.  


I first met Alan when he was CO of Laleston and I was on course as a CD(basic!) in preparation for my Long Course in 1972. 


We bumped into each other in the following years both in the RN, HSE and on retirement.  Whenever we met, no matter how long since our previous meeting, we would engage in friendly banter and conversation immediately.  He was a really nice guy, a true gentleman who will I am sure will be sadly missed by many old colleagues and friends.


My sincere condolences to his family.


Ralph Mavin"


From Mike Harwood MBE (LMCDO '67)


"Dear Rob,


A very sad day. 


During Alan's time as Superintendent of Diving [1983 - 86] I was honoured to serve as his Deputy.  This was a time of many changes.  To name a few, the establishment of the Fleet Diving Squadron; the establishment of the NATO Diving Working Group with UK as the lead authority and Alan in the Chair; the split of the administration of the Superintendent of Diving's office from the Admiralty Experimental Diving Unit; and the decommissioning of HMS Vernon.  All of which Alan managed with determination, vigour and a great sense of humour.  






From Tim Paul MBE (LMCDO '66)


"Hi Rob


All very sad but the cancer had been going on for a while.  We should have been visiting Alan today but we were too late.  


Sarah has asked me to say “ a few words” at his funeral when the date has been arranged.  Rather like the article on Richard Moore do you have anything on Alan that I can use?  I have been in touch with my term mate Peter Hore to see what sources of info I can tap and will be in touch with friends and contacts.  Particularly, I have been  trying to find out what he did on the staff of CINCFLEET during the Falklands.  I had heard that he was responsible for driving through the procurement of new firefighting and DC breathing apparatus following the attack on HMS Sheffield.  Can you throw any light on that or point out anyone who can?   


I will ask Sarah if I can see his flimsies as well.  


Any info would be helpful.


Best wishes,




From Mike Bull (LMCDO '66)


"Hi Rob,


Many thanks for letting us know about the sad passing of Alan.  He was a great chap and obviously lived life to the full.


I would loved to have attended the funeral, but unfortunately I have a number of quite serious medical problems myself. I would be most grateful if you could pass on my condolences when you next contact Alan’s wife Sarah.


Hope you are keeping well Rob.


Best wishes to all members.


Best regards,


Mike Bull"


From John Lang (LMCDO '66)


"Hi Rob,


I first met Alan at the start of the 1966 LMCDO course at Vernon.  We’ve remained in touch and been friends ever since.


A force to be reckoned with and seemed to take on the mantle of leading a bunch of wild young men on our course with natural aplomb.  I will miss him and will no longer be able to look forward to his very artistic Christmas greetings every year.


RIP old friend.


John Lang"


From John Coggins MBE (LMCDO '66)


"Hi Rob,


Hope you are keeping well.


I very much regret that I am unable to attend Alan's funeral but I am sure it will go well.  Alan and Sarah have recently put a lot of time and effort into planning the sad day.  If possible, please could you send me an Order of Service.


Alan was my best man many years ago and I have kept in close contact with him.  He had a difficult last few years but never complained.


Stay safe.


Best wishes,


John Coggins" 


5 Jan 22 - Vernon Monument pewter statuettes


Happy New Year to all members of our community!


Please note that pewter stauettes of the MCDOA-sponsored Vernon Mine Warfare & Diving Monument, currently costing £599, will increase in price to £625 on 31 January.


The pewter statuette is a faithful replica of the Vernon Mine Warfare & Diving Monument

at Gunwharf Quays, formerly HMS VERNON, in Portsmouth


David Hunkin's pewter statuette of the Vernon Monument


Stuart Douglas's pewter statuette of the Vernon Monument


Nigel Waterton's pewter statuette of the Vernon Monument


Alan 'Spud' Murphy's pewter statuette of the Vernon Monument


Order your own pewter statuette via Divers' Gifts and Collectables which now acts as agent for all Project Vernon merchandise.  A substantial contribution from each sale goes toward the Project Vernon charity to help cover the forthcoming dedication ceremony on 15 July, the installation of a lighting system and through-life costs including any contingencies.




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