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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.







If you have not received an email about this, it is because of imperfections in our membership database which this initiative will address.


From Lt Cdr Alasdair Magill:



Dear Association Member,

I am pleased to inform you that the transition to an on-line membership and subscription service as outlined in my previous correspondence is now complete and the MCDOA Membership Mojo website is live.  The association is now inviting you to sign up with membership mojo at the following link:

Owing to the GDPR issues with our previous membership data, all existing association members are required to “join” the MCDOA through membership mojo.  Once your application is complete please ensure you cancel your previous Standing Order; we as the committee are unable to cancel it on your behalf.  

I would like to take this opportunity to re-iterate how On-Line membership offers us a step change in our ability to function as an association.  Not only will this enable us to store your data in a GDPR-compliant way, but it will also allow us to create up-to-date mailing lists, improving our ability to communicate planned events and pass on information bulletins and all things MCDOA with ease.  This will include the purchase of tickets for and organisation of future MCDOA Annual Dinners, commencing from 2021.

If you have any questions concerning the above changes, please contact any member of the committee.

Yours Aye,

Signed electronically,

Alasdair Magill

Membership Secretary



N.B. Please check whether you are one of the applicants who have been approved but have yet to complete the new arrangement for payment.


19 Jul 21 -  Funeral of former FCPO(D) Derrick George 'Tom' King BEM


I am grateful to Eamon 'Ginge' Fullen QGM for this account of the funeral of Tom King who crossed the bar on 1 July (see entry for 1 Jul 21).


"Hi Rob,


Tom's funeral was attended by several CDs including Mike O'Meara, Cris Ballinger BEM, Rob Vaughan and me.


Mike O'Meara, Cris Ballinger, Ginge Fullen and Rob Vaughan at Tom King's funeral


The RNCDA sent a divers' wreath which was laid in front of the coffin.  Mike read a personnel eulogy to Tom and the meaning of the 5 Bells tribute.  I rang the 5 Bells, which was an honour, and The Last Post was played by two Royal Marines as requested on behalf of the RNCDA.  It was a very personnel and moving service and a good send off for one of the oldest Standard Divers and Clearance Divers among us.


Here's another pic of Tom.



Tom King sitting down enjoying a cuppa






From Mike O'Meara, Chairman of The Historical Diving Society:




 I thought you meant be interested to read Tom’s eulogy:


Good afternoon,


My name is Mike O’Meara and I am a former Royal Navy Clearance diver.  I served under Tom on my first clearance diving team - the Plymouth Command Deep Diving Team - after qualifying as a CD in 1969.  I am very honoured to be able to deliver this tribute to my first team Chief Diver Tom King on behalf of the RNCDA.


Since the age of 5 when I was given a book on RN Divers and their endeavours, during and after WW2, the stories involving divers like Tom and his generation were the inspiration which caused me to join the RN and become a diver as soon as I was old enough.  


I am here today with fellow clearance divers Cris Ballanger and  Ginge Fullen, to pay our respects to Tom.  I have chosen to speak about just seven of the many RN Operations in which he was involved.  I have selected these because I wish to convey the sheer breadth of experience his service life involved; the complexity, technical challenges, constant physical risks, and the frequent trauma which he faced with courage, humanity and his own unique sense of humour throughout his service life.  


Tom joined the RN in 1945 at HMS Ganges as a boy seaman bugler.  Following his training in 1946 he was drafted to HMS Belfast in the Far East.  Together with 300 other young boy sailors he joined the still war damaged aircraft carrier HMS Formidable which transported them from the UK to their respective ships dotted along their route as they sailed east, finally dispatching Tom together with 60 other young boy seamen to the Belfast in Hong Kong.  


His time aboard was shortly after the end of WW2 and the surrender of Japan; the Chinese Civil War was in full swing; so - politically Asia was in turmoil and with the Royal Navy tasked with monitoring major events and walking a political tight rope.  Indeed, HMS Belfast was later the flag ship controlling all naval activities which led to the successful but bloody escape of HMS Amethyst from Chinese National forces on the Yangtze River.  


This was the backdrop to Tom’s initiation into naval life. Literally in at the deep end, and not for the last time either.  Having completed her tour of duty in the Far East and returned to the UK in 1948 he left HMS Belfast to begin his long and illustrious diving career.   


This began at HMS Vernon in 1948 where be commenced training to become a Standard Diver (D3).  His instructor was CPO Ernie Foggin, already a legend, and Tom must have been listening and learning very intently because in time he too became a legend.  Tom said of him “He didn’t stand any nonsense, but he was fair.”   We would all say the same about Tom.  


Initially Tom was sent to a wreck disposal team based on HMS Skomer a trawler based in Dover where, following heavy WW2 shipping losses, the dive team were fully engaged in wreck dispersal all around the south coast of the UK.  The work involved a combination of heavy lifting to recover wrecks, - or the use of explosives to collapse a wreck to make them less of a hazard to navigation.  As a young newly qualified standard diver this was indeed a baptism by fire or another case of in at the deep end!  


In January 1950, the submarine HMS Truculent was rammed by a tanker in the Thames Estuary and sank with the loss of 64 men.  Tom’s ship was at Chatham at the time and together with his team members was immediately drafted in to help. They picked up many bodies on route before they commenced the actual diving operation.  This involved passing heavy rigging underneath the hull to lift her before moving her to a sandbank to recover the remaining bodies.  


In 1953 he joined HMS Maidstone’s Submarine Rescue Team called SUBSMASH.  Subsequently in June 1955 HM Submarine Sidon sank alongside Tom’s ship in Portland. This was due to a torpedo explosion in No. 3 tube.  Fire, toxic gases, and smoke accompanied the blast. Twelve men in the forward compartments died instantly and seven others were seriously injured.  Tom and his team mobilised once more. Tom was a D2 at the time and was the first diver down. He found the submarine laying over on her starboard side at an angle of 40°; with 3 feet of the damaged torpedo protruding out of No. 3 tube, with the bow of the submarine 6 to 8 feet in the mud.  This was the first dive of a highly technical and extremely challenging diving operation - initially to confirm whether other trapped crew members were still alive. 


Tragically, having established there were no further survivors the decision was made to physically lift the Sidon. This involved tunnelling through the thick mud beneath her hull in order to pass the heavy lifting wires. This task - even today is always a highly risky operation.  Tom was several feet in when the tunnel he was jetting through the thick mud collapsed around about him - trapping him completely. As Tom said; “There was no panic even though it took well over an hour to get me out. Ray Ellen started air-lifting around me giving my foot a welcoming squeeze every now and again to assure me he was still there.  We soon lifted her, and they ran her aground on Chesil Beach to retrieve another torpedo that was badly damaged and still in the tube.”  Yet another case of in at the deep end for Tom.  


As the RN phased out standard diving equipment, the clearance Diving Branch was formed and Tom made the transition from Standard Diver to Clearance Diver in the late 1950s.  


On one occasion in the 1960s one of Tom’s divers became trapped in a suction grill and was drowning.  With no regard for his own safety Tom jumped in, released him, and brought him around with lifesaving breaths.  For this he deservedly received a civilian award for lifesaving.  


During the 1960s the RN was tasked with testing the operation of aircraft ejection seats underwater.  This was a highly risky set of underwater trials which started at Horsea Island and moved onto deep water trials in Scotland.  Tom and his team members took it in turns to be strapped into the ejection seats, then pulled or dropped -- at speed to simulate crashing and immersion before testing the operation of the ejection seats.  This work created the precious lifesaving capability which even today’s fighter pilots still benefit from - with their ejection seats having the proven capability to eject safely underwater before being carried safely to the surface and rescue.  

When I first met him in 1969, I was a newly qualified Clearance Diver 2.  I joined the Plymouth Command Deep Diving and Bomb, and Mine Team.  Tom was Chief of the team.  He greeted me with the following briefing:


“Welcome to the best team in the branch.  If you are going to fit in here, you’d better be prepared to out dive – and out drink ’em all!  


Naval training depends upon the ethos “Always obey the last order”; consequently I did my very best to comply.  Shortly afterward we all mobilised to Jersey where we spent 22 weeks removing 164 x 1,000-pound bombs in various stages of decomposition and damage and from the wartime wreck of the Arnold Mask, a German freighter sunk by the RAF during WW2 as she approached Jersey.  Tom was awarded a BEM for valour for this job, and it was well deserved.  


Tom went on to be appointed as one of the first Fleet Chief (Warrant Officer) Divers in the CD branch when they were reinstated in 1974.  Tom nominated me for my CD1’s course and for this I will always be grateful to him for his act of faith and support.  


One of the first things Tom would have learned when he started his diver training in 1948 were his lifeline signals.  There is no doubt when he was trapped in the mud beneath HM Submarine Sidon he was relying on lifeline signals including the occasional reassuring squeeze on his leg from his rescuer.  


Although today’s diver often has the ability to talk to the surface, all Navy Divers to this day are still taught lifeline signals.  Equipment fails and when you are on your own on the seabed or trapped in thick mud as Tom was -  in the pitch black and with zero visibility - the rope tied to your shoulder is literally your lifeline.  There are many signals: some give directions, some are routine, others are reserved for emergencies.  But the one that holds the most meaning for us all is 5 Bells.  Depending upon circumstances this has three interpretations:  “I have found my work; I have started my work; or I have completed my work.”  


Over the years 5 Bells has been adopted as our salute to a fallen diver.  “5 Bells my friend, stand down, your work is done,”


And so, - with respect, and love, Ginge will now sound the last 5 bells for our brother, Royal Navy Warrant Officer Diver Tom King BEM.






13 Jul 21 - Gentlemen Who Lunch


The MCDOA's 'Not Quite the Last of the Summer Wine' trio of Barlow, Holloway and Hoole was back in action yesterday with a return visit to The Fox Goes Free, nestled in the beautiful South Downs at Chalton near Goodwood in West Sussex.  Exceptionally, we were accompanied by our ladies to help celebrate our imminent release from most Covid lockdown measures.



"What are those black animals in the field?" asked Barlow.


"Buffaloes," replied Holloway.



They were actually cylindrical bales of hay wrapped in black plastic.


11 Jul 21 - Canadian kudos for Neil Marriott


Congratulations to MCDOA member Neil Marriott, our Naval & Air Attaché in Ottawa, on being awarded a Commendation and coin by Vice Admiral Craig Baines RCN, the Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy.  Neil also received personal coins from Cdre Jason Armstrong RCN, the Director General Naval Force Development.





10 Jul 21 - Northern Diving Group exercises Freedom of Orkney


The Royal Navy website contains this article reporting yesterday's presentation of the Freedom of Orkney to Faslane-based Northern Diving Group (NDG), commanded by MCDOA member Mark Shaw.  This privilege, granted in May, gives NDG the right to march through the streets "with bayonets fixed, drums beating and with colours flying".








9 Jul 21 - Arrangements for the funeral of former FCPO(D) Derrick George 'Tom' King BEM


According to Eamon 'Ginge' Fullen QGM, Tom's funeral (see entry for 1 Jul 21) will take place on 19 July at midday at St Thomas a Becket Church, Red House Lane, Shirenewton, Chepstow, NP16 6RG.  The service and burial is in the same church.


The small village church can only hold 30 under current restriction but the service can be relayed outside.  Also, the family is having a wake in a local inn – all semi-outside so room for all.


Anyone who knew Tom and wants to attend, possibly say a few words and/or ring 5 bells is requested to contact Ginge Fullen.


8 Jul 21 - An impressive quartet of MCDOs


I am grateful to MCDOA member Dan Herridge for this news item:


"Rob, I hope you are well? 


I have just stepped off from HMS TAMAR’s Final Inspection and we had quite the inspection team, all MCDOs:


Capt Simon Kelly RN (Commanding Officer HMS ALBION)


Capt Ben Vickery RN (Captain Patrol, Underwater Exploitation and Diving - previously MFP)


Cdr David Louis RN (Commander Offshore Patrol Squadron)


Lt Cdr Dan Herridge RN (Deputy Commander Sea Training - FOST Ships)


Si Kelly, Ben Vickery, David Louis and Dan Herridge



If there was a Onesie brave enough, we could have had a dip!"


FAO Si, Ben and David - Under our newly introduced system, please apply anew for MCDOA membership here and comply with the new payment arrangements on being accepted; don't forget to cancel any existing Standing Order.  This is a prerequisite for attending future MCDOA functions including this year's dinner at HMS NELSON on 26 November.


6 Jul 21 - WO1(D) Simon 'Ruby' Murray awarded Meritorious Service Medal


Congratulations to Simon 'Ruby' Murray on being gazetted for the award of the MSM (Meritorious Service Medal).  The medal is awarded "for good, faithful, valuable and meritorious service, with conduct judged to be irreproachable throughout" and recipients must have served at least 20 years.



Coincidentally, WO1(D) Si Crew was awarded the MSM in last month's Queen's Birthday Honours.  No more than fifty-one medals are awarded annually in the Royal Navy and Royal Marines combined and this total is seldom reached.


2 Jul 21 - A different sort of 'Bobby' on the door at No.10


On Thursday 24 June, the Prime Minister held a reception in honour of Armed Forces Day in the Rose Garden of No.10 Downing St.  The attendees were drawn from service personnel who had contributed to Op RESCRIPT, Defence's support to the Government's COVID Response and Recovery.



MCDOA member Bob Hawkins MBE is the Maritime Operations Centre's interlocutor with Standing Joint Commander (UK), facilitating the Royal Navy's contribution to this effort.  He was selected also as the PM wanted to meet a few servicemen who have been serving in excess of 40 years, in Bob's case 43½ years now, having joined on 4 January 1978, and since with unbroken service as a Regular.



Bob became a Ship's Diving Officer in April 1980, and qualified as a Minewarfare & Clearance Diving officer at HMS VERNON in 1982.  He had two exceptional course officers.


1 Jul 21 - Death of former FCPO(D) Derrick George 'Tom' King BEM


I have received these sad tidings from CD branch legend Eamon 'Ginge' Fullen QGM:


"Hi Rob,


Sad news.  Tom King died this morning, aged 91.   


I spoke with Jan his wife and she will let me know the funeral details later.  






Ginge Fullen with Tom King


Ginge has kindly provided the following biography:


Tom King BEM


I have met with Tom several times when I was passing by his place. The first time I had met him he told me he had been on the wreck disposal teams as a Standard Diver after the war and I filed it away in my head for future chronicles.  Although at over 90 years old and sadly not so mobile undoubtedly Tom did some very tough diving in his day.  I very much enjoy my chats with Tom, many of his stories are of a bygone era in diving which will never be repeated.  


Tom’s recollections: I joined the Navy in 1945 at HMS Ganges.  We were just the second lot of boys there since it had been closed during the war.  As a boy seaman, I was drafted to HMS Belfast in 46 in Hong Kong with Charlie Charlwood who I knew at Ganges and was a good mate.  300 or so boy seaman travelled out on HMS Formidable and dropping lads off along the way on different ships.  60 or 70 of us were drafted on to the Belfast.  We saw an Admiralty fleet order saying they were looking for divers and it was extra money.  


Within a couple of months, we joined Vernon to start training to become a Standard Diver (D3).  We were one of the very first D3 class’s to go to Vernon and not be trained at Whale Island (HMS Excellent) which had been the home to diving since it first started in the Navy.  HMS Deepwater had just been moored permanently alongside Vernon and used as the Diving School.  Ernie Foggin D1 was our instructor, he didn’t stand any nonsense but he was fair.  It was Ernie who started calling me Tom (not Derek) after a bare-knuckle boxer in the Navy in the 1930’s called Tom King who would make a fortune.  


After qualifying you could be used as a diver on the wreck disposal teams or as a salvage diver, you didn’t get a choice.  I was sent immediately to a Wreck disposal team based on HMS Skomer which was an Isle class trawler based in Dover where we were busy getting rid of wrecks all around the south of the UK.  We did lift a lot of wrecks or items from them but also use explosives to collapse the wrecks in on themselves and make them less of a problem to shipping.  Whilst doing this job in January 1950 the submarine HMS Truculent was rammed by a tanker in the Thames Estuary and sank.  Sixty-four men died as a result of the collision.  Unfortunately, most of them died when they escaped the submarine in the dead of night into the strong running tide with no support boats in place to pick them up. Our ship was at Chatham at the time and several of us were drafted in to help. We picked up many bodies on route.  


In 1953 I joined HMS Maidstone of the 2nd submarine squadron.  On board were two D1 and six Divers that formed part of the ‘SUBSMASH’ team.  Propeller changes and other underwater engineering jobs were just coming in then so we were doing a lot of diving.  HMS Sidon was alongside us when it sank.  I was the first Standard Diver to dive on her.  In 1955 or 56 I picked up my PO’s rate and immediately did my D1 course in Vernon.  He and all the others I think turned over to CD in the end.  I then swopped over to CD1 with Dutchy Holland, Albert Strange CD 2 (only pure CD on the course) and Ginger Bryant in around 1958.


Tom King as a 'square rig' Petty Officer Diver (Second Class)


I got a draft to Bomb and Mine Disposal (Chatham) to relieve Pat Christmas. I remember one call out we had to a buoyant mine that was washed up on a beach.  There was a large crowd around us that we just could not get rid of. Curly then grabs a seven-pound maul and walked up to it, swings and hits it with an almighty clang.  He then turns around to me and shouts “It’s not acoustic Tom”.  It helped get rid of a few onlookers especially the ones who had not seen ‘Dummy Mine – please report to etc on the side.  I stayed around two years until Chatham closed down in 1960.  The Portsmouth CD team took over bomb disposal duties for the area we had covered.  


Around 1960 or so I returned to Vernon where the boss of the diving School Nosy Parker said: “Don’t drop your bags, King, you’re going to AUWE and taking over there”.  It was the start of the underwater ejection seat trails.  In 1962/63 I headed out to the Far East team as Chief based in Singapore.  In the mid-1960s I returned to Vernon to instructing CD1s and Officers courses before getting the Devonport Diving School then Plymouth Clearance Diving Team.  In the late 1960s the team spent several weeks undertaking the extremely hazardous task of clearing unexploded bombs from the wreckage of the S.S. Arnold Maersk in Jersey.  Loaded with 500 kg bombs that were fused.  We would lift four at a time, dump them in deep water and go again.  Other CD’s involved were Darby Allan who died in the 1970s, Baz Davis and George Porter.  I did get an award for this job (BEM) but all the divers involved in this deserved an award as much as I did.  On another job, we were looking for a young girl of five years or so in a river in Hampshire.  One of my divers Bill Swinfield got his head stuck in a suction grill on a large sluice gate.  Half drowned I managed to pull him out and after giving him rescue breaths managed to bring him around. I was presented with a civilian lifesaving award though which I’m very happy had a positive outcome for the diver.  


In 1971 I joined the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle Aas the only CD i.e. to supervisor 40 odd Ships Divers.  They soon pulled me off there during a world cruise to be made up to Fleet Chief.  Dutchy Holland and I were the first two Diving Fleet Chiefs (Warrant Officers) since they stopped them at the end of the war.  He went north to Scotland, I went south to Vernon.  I left the Navy as Fleet Chief in the School in Vernon in 1974.  I went into the civilian diving industry after that. 


Click for Tom King's BEM citation


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


From MCDOA member John Lang:


"Hi Rob,


Sorry to hear the news about Tom.  He was a force to be reckoned with on our 1966 MCDO course.  Had a great deal of time for him as well as respect.


He was the type of human being you never forgot. I’m glad he had such a long innings.


John Lang"


From MCDOA member Jon Riches:


"Hello Rob,


I was sad to read of the death of Tom King.  He was our diving instructor for the 1966 LMCDO Course.  He was an excellent instructor and we all benefitted from his deep knowledge of RN diving.  I have very fond memories of Tom and how he gently imposed his authority over us young and sometimes unruly young officers. 


Our careers diverged after the Course and I did not serve with him again.  He certainly had a good innings!


Best wishes,




From former CPO(D) Mick Kester:


"Sorry to hear the sad news of the death of Tom King.  I had the privilege of being a member of his team during the Arnold Maersk operation off Jersey,and again, at a later date,with the late George Alderton and Ted Rose.


Tom was a man's man through and through.


RIP Tom  


Micky Kester" 


24 Jun 21 - News from Cdr Jason White QGM RN


I am grateful to MCDOA member Jason White, our Defence Attaché in Algiers, for this update:


"Dear Rob,


Decima and I are enjoying the Defence Engagement lifestyle in Algiers.  The diplomatic community is tight-knit here and we’ve made a lot of good friends and relationships.




The presentation of the bar to my Long Service & Good Conduct medal was a complete surprise but thank you to Capt Andy Ingham and Ian Richardson for putting such nice words together (or the Ambassador just chose to say the nice bits).





I’m missing the RN diving community but diving here is much easier than in the UK!  However, my first dive with the French DA (pilot) and US DA (Green Beret) was an eye opener...


We’re very happy for visitors as soon as travel opens up!




23 Jun 21 - Horsea Island during the Second World War


We all know about Horsea Island, right?  Read on:


Horsea Island Landing Craft Slipways during WWII


My thanks to MCDOA member Chris O'Flaherty for bringing this intriguing bit of history to my attention.


21 Jun 21 - Queen's Birthday Honour missed earlier


Late congratulations to MCDOA member Martin Mackey on being awarded a Chief of the General Staff's Commendation in the Queen's Birthday Honours as promulgated in this article on the Army website. 


Martin Mackey in May 2020


Martin received his award:


 "...for his contribution to EOD and Search capabilities during the COVID pandemic, as well as his sterling work with the national Scouting movement.  His support to SJC(UK) during the pandemic was outstanding, and he led his team in support of the Welsh Govt with exemplary professionalism."


The Scouting relates to Martin's volunteer work as the County Commissioner (lead volunteer) for Hampshire Scouts.


20 Jun 21 - News from Cdr Allan Rankin RAN


Allan qualified on LMCDO '79 as an RN officer but transferred to the Royal Australian Navy in 1988.  He left the RAN as a Commander in 2017 after a naval career spanning 42 years and moved from Canberra to a newly-built house at Mooloolaba on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland where I visited him in 2018. 


Your humble webmaster with Allan Rankin in Mooloolaba in April 2018


I am grateful to Allan for this update:


"Hi Rob,


I recently had a visit from ex-WOCD Joe Cook and his wife Irene who now live in a little village called Laidley, near Toowoomba in Queensland.  Joe had a successful career in the RN as a CD in the sixties and seventies, and eventually joined the RAN as a saturation-diving qualified CPOCD in 1982. 


Allan Rankin with Joe Cook in Mooloolaba in June 2021


Joe and Irene Cook in Mooloolaba in June 2021


I served with Joe at the RAN Diving Training School at HMAS PENGUIN when on exchange in 1985/86, and we became good friends.  He subsequently served in AUSCDT One and was promoted to WOCD before he retired from the RAN in 1996.  I believe he turned 80 sometime last year.  


While here, Joe mentioned you by name and told me that he follows the RN MCDO Association web page to get news about the RN Diving Branch, although he doesn’t use Facebook.  I would be grateful if you would consider posting the attached pictures on the MCDO Association page so that some of Joe’s old colleagues might remember him.


Thanks and kind regards,




By Mick Creasey:


"Hi.  Joe was my PO when I was an ME1 attached to the FCDT at HMS Vernon.  Please pass on my regards to him and his wife."


By Mick Fellows MBE DSC BEM*:


"Glad to see Joe looking so well.  Although we never served together, he and I are old friends from the early '60s.  He left his mark on the RN CD Branch.


By John Greenwood:


"Joe was my first coxswain and later PO on the Fleet Clearance Diving Team."


By Colin 'Scouse' Kidman QGM:


"Good to see Joe looking well.  We qualified CD1 on the same course in 1972."


By Trevor Rees Halstead:


"My PO.  One of the good guys."


By Eric Piper:


"Joe was my boss at Weymouth on the Bincleaves-based Portland Clearance Diving Team; a great guy and mentor.


Please pass on my best wishes to him"


By Francis Stanley:


"Joe was my coxswain on the Shoulton.  A lovely guy.  Please pass on my best regards."


By Mo Crang:


"Joe was my coxswain on the Shoulton and taught me loads,  Thank you, Joe."


17 Jun 21 - Lt Cdr David Bartlett MBE RN Attends Memorial Service


 MCDOA member David Bartlett was a Torpedo & Anti-Submarine branch UC3 (Underwater Controller 3rd Class) sonar operator in the submarine HMS Sidon alongside at Portland on 16 June 1955 when the volatile HTP (High Test Peroxide) fuel exploded in one of her torpedoes causing the loss of 13 lives. David was among the injured and spent several months recovering in hospital.


An annual memorial service is held at Portland to commemorate HMS Sidon's sinking and David was one of the three remaining survivors who attended yesterday's event.


David Bartlett (standing centre) at yesterday's Memorial Service for HMS Sidon


David Bartlett (standing centre) at yesterday's Memorial Service for HMS Sidon


David was commissioned as an officer in 1962 and qualified as a Minewarfare & Clearance Diving Officer at HMS Vernon in 1967.


15 Jun 21 - Gentlemen Who Lunch


The boys were back in town today for the first time in over 15 months.  The MCDOA's 'Not Quite the Last of the Summer Wine' trio of Barlow (“I served in three battleships and three cruisers, y’know.”), Holloway and Hoole enjoyed lunch at the Sussex Brewery in Emsworth.  Thank you Cecile, our hostess, for your forbearance.


Left to right: Rob Hoole, Doug Barlow and Martyn Holloway at the Sussex Brewery today


11 Jun 21 - Queen's Birthday Honours


Hearty congratulations to MCDOA member Al Nekrews QGM, CO of the Fleet Diving Squadron, on his appointment as an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours announced tonight.  In January 2019, Al became the first Royal Navy trustee of the Felix Fund, the bomb disposal charity.  MCDOA member David Hunkin OBE has since become a trustee, too.


Cdr Al Nekrews QGM RN (right) with Prince Harry and fellow MCDOA member Keith Broughton

at Project Vernon's 'Falklands 35' Fundraising Dinner at Trinity House in London

on 19 July 2017


Congratulations as well to WO1(D) Si Crew of the Fleet Diving Squadron on being awarded the MSM (Meritorious Service Medal).


23 May 21 - News from Cdr David 'Topsy' Turner RNZN



MCDOA member David 'Topsy' Turner joined the Royal Navy in 1974 and I was his course officer when he qualified as an MCD officer in 1984.  He transferred to the RNZN in 2004 and has since commanded HMNZS Canterbuty and HMNZS Philomel, concurrently acting as the Naval Base Commander in Devonport, NZ.  I am grateful to him for his latest update:


"Kia ora Rob - I feel like it’s been an absolute age since I last sent an update from down under so whilst we have a surface interval I’ll string a few bits together.  


Yvonne and I returned to NZ in December after almost 3.5 years in Hawaii where I was posted as the first New Zealander (I can say that as a passport holder and All Blacks card carrying Kiwi) to the USINDOPACOM HQ in Honolulu where I also worked in the NZ Consulate as the military advisor to the Consul-General.  It was a great posting as you will imagine and we made many, many friends.


On return to NZ I went into a new position as the NZDF Director Diving Operational Readiness - no staff, no money and no job description.  Minor setbacks such as those are not enough to deter this warrior of the sea so in no time at all I’d recruited Lt Wesley Moir (an RN-trained MCDO) as my offsider, written my job description and found a pot of money.  The next step was to establish the Directorate of Diving (think SofD type organisation) and bingo - we are off to the races!  I tried to do this when I first got here in 2004 but there was no appetite.


Now that we have a new diving vessel (HMNZS MANAWANUI) and other capabilities on the way such as a new shallow water rebreather, Littoral Manoeuvre Craft and Autonomous Systems, I’ve struck gold and am busy putting this establishment together before I move on in August.



I thought that I’d be asked to hang up my fins at the end of the year when my contract comes to an end but I was in for a nice surprise.  In August I start a three-month language training course after which I’m to be promoted to Captain and posted to Seoul in January for three years (option for a 4th) as the Defence Attaché (how cool is that?).  That will see me through to almost 68 by the time I have leave and resettlement.  Resettlement!!!  After 20+ years service I qualify for three months resettlement which I can convert into leave if needs be so I know what I’ll be doing!  


In the meantime I’m currently at sea for the next two weeks with MANAWANUI observing the release of our subsea search and recovery capability using the SSBA diving system, ROV and recovery crane.  This is a first for us and seeing these young fellas after they have dived through the moon pool in a wet bell to 50 metres at night to conduct hydraulic tool and broco training is a joy to behold - I am very jealous.





Regards to you all,




I am sure all members of our community will join me in congratulating Topsy on his forthcoming promotion and wishing him and Yvonne all the best for their future.


12 May 21 - Latest LS&GC Awards


 Congratulations to WO1(D) Kristopher Fenwick QGM (pictured second right) on being gazetted for the award of the 1st clasp to his Long Service & Good Conduct medal, signifying '25 years of undetected crime'.



Kris was previously awarded the QGM (Queen's Gallantry Medal) "for his calm and inspiring leadership when disposing of an un-exploded 500lb German Air Dropped SC 250 bomb which was raised to the surface by a dredging vessel, in Portsmouth Harbour on 22nd February 2017."


23 Apr 21 - Charlie Wheen assumes Command of HMS Argyll


Congratulations to MCDOA member Charlie Wheen on assuming Command of the Type 23 frigate HMS Argyll today.


Cdr Charlie Wheen (right) assuming Command of HMS Argyll from Cdr Andy Ainsley (left)

(Royal Navy photo)


Charlie has previously commanded HMS Cattistock and HMS Middleton.


Charlie Wheen as CO of HMS Cattistock in December 2017 flanked by fellow MCDOA members

Pat Gale (first CO of Cattistock) left and Yours Truly (first CO of sister ship Berkeley) right


21 Apr 21 - Latest LS&GC Awards


Congratulations to CPO(D) Ward 'Sharkey' Peers on being gazetted for the award of the second clasp to his Naval Long Service & Good Conduct Medal and to PO(D) Peter Birse on being gazetted for the award of the Naval Long Service & Good Conduct Medal.  A second clasp to the LS&GC signifies 35 years of 'undetected crime'.


Ward 'Sharkey' Peers (second left) as a PO(D)

in Afghanistan in 2010


Navy News article featuring Pete Birse as an AB(D)

in HMS QUORN in 2008


10 Apr 21 - Death of Cdre Richard Moore RN


Cdre Richard Moore as COMMW in 1993


MCDOA member Derek Leach has informed me that Richard Moore, his course mate on LMCDO '73, crossed the bar this morning after a long and stoic fight with Parkinson's, a particularly cruel disease.  Richard served as the MCDOA's first President from 1992 to 1995.


Richard Moore in CDBA with an A Mk 12 ground mine in 1989


Richard originally joined the Royal Navy as an artificer apprentice but was commissioned as a marine engineering officer in 1964.  Shortly after graduating from the engineering college at HMS Manadon in 1966, he transferred to the Seaman branch (now Warfare branch) and served in HM Ships Plover (1967), Hermes (1968), Yarmouth (1969/70), Eagle (1971), London (1972), Brinton (1974/75), Amazon (1976/77), Brilliant (1981) and Intrepid (1986/87).  He was also the naval minewarfare applicator at AUWE (Admiralty Underwater Weapons Establishment) on Portland (1978/80), our man in MOD DNW (1983), COMSTANAVFORCHAN embarked in HMS Abdiel (1984/85), OIC RN Presentation Team (1988), our man in MOD DOR(Sea) (1992/93) and COMMW (Commodore Minor War Vessels and Minewarfare) before leaving the Royal Navy in 1995.  He then worked for Plessey Sonar Systems which later became GEC Marconi and was ultimately taken over by Thales.


Richard Moore (right) at the MCDOA Annual Dinner in November 2004


In retirement, Richard applied himself to sailing, fishing, maintaining his low golf handicap and restoring cars and furniture.  He was also an active supporter of Project Vernon, the campaign to install the mine warfare and diving monument at Gunwharf Quays, the former site of HMS Vernon.


Richard Moore and former CPO(D) Steve 'Peggy' Neil at a Project Vernon promo weekend

at Gunwharf Quays in July 2009 


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


This is starting to look a bit ominous.


Yours Truly with Richard Moore and Peter Robinson, both deceased

during the past six weeks, at the MCDOA's AGM in 2003


From MCDOA member Darroch Woodward:




This is sad news indeed.  He was my first Commodore of our branch after I qualified, and having briefed him, hosted him onboard, called in on him at his office, and even taken him for a dive so he could get his minutes,  I remember him as a calm and charming gentleman.


May he Rest In Peace. Please pass my best wishes to his family.




From MCDOA member Tim Paul MBE:


"Dear Rob,


Really sorry to hear of Richard's passing.  We have lost a true professional who did much to cement the standing of the MCD branch within the RN and MOD at a formative time.   He will be sadly missed.  


Best wishes,


Tim Paul"


From MCDOA member Jon Riches:


"Hello Rob,


Again very sad news and another good man gone. 


I first met Richard in 1967 when he was serving in HMS Plover at Lochinvar and I was 1st Lt of Bronington.  We were 'passing ships' until our paths converged when I relieved him in MOD as the DNW MCD desk officer.  He gave me an excellent turn over extended to two weeks due to a stamina sapping series of farewell parties!


Always smart and cheerful which, with his urbane demeanour and undoubted professional expertise, led to thoroughly deserved high rank . I always enjoyed being in his company.


My thoughts are with his wife and family,




From MCDOA member Andy Stribley (LMCDO '73):


"Dear all,  


Very sad news about Richard's passing.  He was an extremely calm, focused and professional colleague to have on our diving course but sadly our paths didn't cross again professionally.  We only met on a couple of occasions; once in a torrential downpour in West Bay when he happened to be driving past, and at a dinner in Portsmouth.


My memory of him is always triggered best by the photo on the website of the class of '73 out to dinner (in the Il Colosseo I think it was?).


Members of LMCDO '73 out for dinner

Clockwise from top: George Dance, Alan Bayliss, Derek Leach, Mike Kooner MBE,

Steve Epperson USN, CPO(CD) Vic Rashleigh BEM RAN, Richard Moore and Andy Stribley


My deepest condolences to his whole family.  


Best wishes,  


Andy Stribley"


From MCDOA member Alan Bayliss (LMCDO '73):


"Hello Rob and fellow course members.


I am sorry to read Richard has been taken from us.  Please pass my condolences to his son via Derek.


I last met up with 'Sir Richard' at an MCDOA Northern Dinner about seven years ago.  It was then that I knew he was not in the best of health.


Our paths crossed a couple on service occasions.  Richard was COMSTANAVFORCHAN, i.e. the Commander of the NATO mine countermeasures force comprising twelve ships. The UK ship was HMS CATTISTOCK of which I was the 1st Lt.  Another time we met up was when he was COMMW and I was on his staff as the Route Survey Officer,  Richard came with me on my last dive at the age of 55.


'Sir Richard' was a smart and well respected officer who would always point you in the right direction.  I much enjoyed working for him.


Five Bells,


Alan Bayliss"


From MCDOA member Mike Kooner MBE (LMCDO '73):


"Dear Rob,   


So very sad to hear about the passing of our friend Richard.  I have known him since we qualified as MCDOs in 1973.  He was an exceptional officer and a trustworthy colleague: a true gentleman.  An accomplished golfer and athlete who was the first in our branch to achieve flag rank.   


Please pass on my best wishes and condolences to Anne and his wider family.  


Best wishes,




From MCDOA member Dougie MacDonald:


"Hello Rob,


My heartfelt condolences to Richard’s family. 


Richard was a tower of strength, he was bullied by FOSF and refused to cascade perceived sh.t downwards to the MCM Flotilla because it was not warranted.  If I can live up to his values, I’ll be proud.




From MCDOA member Dan Nicholson:


"Hello Rob,


Many thanks for letting me know about Richard's passing.  He shared the honour of coming to the end of his life the same week as another very well known and admired Naval Officer.


Kind regards,




9 Apr 21 - Death of HRH the Duke of Edinburgh


A sad day for the nation:


"It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen announces the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.  His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle.


Further announcements will be made in due course.


The Royal Family join with people around the world in mourning his loss."



The Duke of Edinburgh undertaking a jackstay transfer from the frigate HMS Eastbourne

to the Ton class minesweeper HMS Walkerton off Malta in 1960


The Duke of Edinburgh visiting the Ton class minehunter HMS Bronington

in 1976 when she was commanded by HRH the Prince of Wales


31 Mar 21 - Daily Telegraph obituary for former WO(D) Terry Settle MBE QGM BEM


Tomorrow's Telegraph will contain this obituary for Terry Settle who crossed the bar on 2 March (see entry for 2 Mar 21). 


Terry's funeral service was held at Medway Crematorium in Kent on 24 February.  It can be watched again online until Monday 3 May via using the Username "taco2257" and the Password "678396". 


A copy of the Order of Service can be downloaded here.



As ever, I am grateful to Capt Peter Hore RN for penning such a fine tribute to add to our pantheon (in alphabetical order):


Dr Sidney Alford OBE


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 Colin Churcher MBE 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 


28 Mar 21 - A Spring Message from our President


Capt Roger Readwin ADC RN


Dear Members,  


I sincerely hope this Spring message finds all association members, along with families & friends, in good health and remaining safe, as we hopefully begin to emerge from this unprecedented pandemic.  


I recognise that the last time we all gathered, was at our MCDOA Dinner in November 2019.  Since then of course, the COVID pandemic has and arguably continues to have, a profound impact on our daily lives.  It has terminated face-to-face contact and up boarded plans for reunions and significant moments of celebration in our lives.  As we emerge from the pandemic, it is time to regroup and set some plans in motion to live life once again; therefore, save the date of 26 November 2021 for the MCDOA Dinner.  


Throughout the lockdowns, Associations have been key in holding people together and alongside the RNCDA, it has been heart warming to see the messages and spirit of our Royal Navy Mine Warfare and Diving communities doing just that.  The latest lockdown has felt like that very long deployment, the one which was extended, at short notice, by three months, the one that required more grit and energy to simply get through.  I am sure many have relied on those deployment experiences to keep morale as high as possible over the last 12 months.


Throughout the pandemic, the Royal Navy has commendably continued to deliver on operations, has maintained the training pipeline across our new entry training establishments, and sustained the vital career courses which our people need to feel valued and empowered to deliver on Ops.  I am sure all members will join me in congratulating them all, especially the Fleet Diving Squadron and our MCM Squadrons, many of whom have remained forward deployed on operations, delivering superbly both at home and abroad, throughout these challenging times.  I remain forever grateful to Rob Hoole for continuing to promote the good work of our Mine Warfare and Diving communities on social media and via the revitalised MCDOA website.   


Your committee, under the leadership of Commander Olly Alexander, has continued to remain connected throughout the pandemic, and has been working on ensuring the MCDOA organisation and governance processes are up to date.  My special thanks must go to the Membership Secretary, Lt Cdr Al Magill, for his hard work in transforming the MCDOA membership process, as set out on the latest new pages on the MCDOA website.  Please ensure you are signed up into the new membership Mojo organisation, as this will be the key communications bearer for the annual dinner and future events.  


I look forward to seeing everyone at the annual dinner in November, at which will we remember those members who have sadly crossed the bar, recognise those who have retired from service, and those who have been promoted & selected for Command positions, and importantly, welcome our newest MCDOs to the association since our last dinner in 2019.  


Stay safe.  


Yours aye,  




Roger Readwin 

Captain ADC Royal Navy

President MCDOA


#26 Mar 21 - Conferral of US Legion of Merit


Hearty congratulations to Captain Andy Lamb OBE RN on being gazetted for his appointment to the US Legion of Merit (Degree of Officer) " recognition of meritorious, gallant and distinguished services during coalition operations in the field."


Although Andy is not an MCD officer, he has commanded the Sandown class minehunters HMS Shoreham and HMS Pembroke in the Gulf and served as Commander of the Faslane-based First Mine Countermeasures Squadron as well as several other staff appointments including UK Defence Attaché to Singapore.


In 2017, Andy delivered, on behalf of the USA, the Legion of Merit medal and certificate to MCDOA member David Bence in Portsmouth. 


Andy Lamb (left and David Bence


Andy later served in the Gulf as Deputy Commander of Task Force 52, US CENTCOM's Fifth Fleet organisation responsible for the command & control of all mine warfare assets in the region.  When he left in July 2019, he was given a farewell presentation by Cdr Simon Cox, COMUKMCMFOR (Commander UK Mine Countermeasures Force) based at Bahrain in the Gulf, a role he has held himself.


Andy Lamb (right) and Simon Cox


25 Mar 21 - Promotions to Commander


Hearty congratulations to MCDOA members Dan Herridge and Rory Armstrong on being selected for promotion to Commander on today’s signal.  Dan was previously Commanding Officer of MCM1 Crew 6 and now serves in Fleet Operational Sea Training.  Rory is the CO of XDG (Expeditionary Diving Group).


Dan Herridge


Congratulations as well to Lt Cdr Peter Evans (CO MCM1 Crew 4), Lt Cdr Jonathan Fletcher (CO MCM2 Crew 8) and Mine Warfare Officer Lt Cdr Anthony Wallace (PJHQ) who were on the same signal.


4 Mar 21 - Death of Lt Cdr Michael 'Peter' Robinson RN



I learned today that MCDOA member Peter Robinson crossed the bar last Wednesday morning (24 Feb 2021).  He was suffering from mesothelioma caused by a legacy of asbestos dust.


Peter joined the Royal Navy as an engineering artificer and was commissioned as a Sub Lt in January 1979.  He qualified as an MCDO at HMS VERNON in 1982 and I succeeded  Geoff Goodwin as his course officer.  He served in HMS BRECON (1980), HMS CHALLENGER (1983) and HMS LEDBURY (1984-85).  He also served on exchange with the US Navy at NEDU (Naval Experimental Diving Unit) in Panama City, Florida (1987-89), in CINCFLEET's OEG (Operational Evaluation Group) at Northwood (1990-92) and was the RN Diving Application Officer with me at DGUW(N) (Director General Underwater Weapons (Navy)) at Southwell on Portland (1993-94).


On leaving the Royal Navy in 1995, soon after buying the now superfluous Queen's Harbour Master's house atop the heights of Portland, he spent several years working for defence contractors, mainly on submarine systems.


I am sure all members of our community will join me in extending our sincere condolences to Peter's wife Jill and their family. 


From MCDOA member Dougie MacDonald:


"Hello Rob,  


Sad news about Terry and Pops.  I echo Steve’s comments about Terry in the Warfare shop.  I’ll miss Peter’s sense of humour and quips, they kept us smiling during BRECON’s part IV trials when things didn’t quite go to plan.  


My condolences to their families.






From MCDOA member Steve Gobey:


"Dear Rob,


I have just seen your tribute to Peter on the website.  Thank you. I do hope you are provided with some good news soon!


All too soon I have to bid a fond farewell to another of my LEDBURY stalwarts.  Peter was my Ops.  He and I go back a long way to when we were in Collingwood as ‘Tiffy Apps’ in the mid sixties.  Since then our paths have crossed many times and we became good friends.  In recent years we enjoyed many happy hours narrowboating together.


RIP shipmate.






3 Mar 21 - Funeral of former CPO(D) Alan Broadhurst


Alan Broadhurst crossed the bar on 31 January (see entry for 1 Feb 21).  He had been ill for several years following a fall at his home in Cyprus.


Alan 'Jacko' Jackson has advised me that Alan's funeral will take place at 1515 on Friday 5 March at The Oaks Crematorium in Havant. Although It is unlikely that there will be room for uninvited attendees in the chapel owing to the limitation of 30 under the Covid restrictions, there should be room for others in the adjacent foyer or just outside.


I am sure all members of our community will join me in extending our deepest condolences to Alan's wife Angela and her family at this difficult time.


From MCDOA member Steve Gobey:


"Dear Rob,


Very sad to learn of the passings of Terry Settle and Alan Broadhurst.  I was most fortunate that Terry was my Coxswain in LEDBURY, particularly when his cool head and inspirational leadership contributed much to the saving of the ship after the devastating engine room fire.  We later served together on the staff of COMMW where his professionalism, good nature and humour helped to make the Warfare Office a great place to work.  He was also a valuable member of the office ‘biathlon team’ (run a half marathon and into the nearest pub to down a couple of pints of Murphys!).


Alan and I were together in FOST Diving Team where again his professionalism and support are much appreciated. 


I most certainly join you in extending sincere condolences to Terry’s and Alan’s families.


Best Wishes,




2 Mar 21 - Death of forrmer WO(D) Terry Settle MBE QGM BEM


It is my sad duty to announce that Terry Settle crossed the bar at home this morning with his family around him.


Terry Settle (left) with fellow ex-CD Dudley 'Wooly' Woolnough last March


Terry was awarded the BEM (British Empire Medal) in the 1980 Queen's Birthday Honours and the QGM (Queen's Gallantry Medal) in May 1985 "For his remarkable courage, dedication and professionalism in ordnance clearance operations in the Gulf of Suez in September 1984".  He was appointed an MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) in the 1987 New Year Honours.


Terry Settle and Prince Harry at Project Vernon's 'Falklands 35' Fundraising Dinner

at Trinity House on 19 July 2017.  That impish smile was unmistakable.


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


Please add your own experiences of Terry and any photos that may be useful to Telegraph naval obituarist, Capt Peter Hore RN, who is liaising with Terry's brother Bob.


From MCDOA member Chris Meatyard:


"Dear Rob,


I'm deeply saddened to read the news about Terry.  I feel privileged to have served with Terry from the date he joined SNICDT as CPO(D) in early 1978 until I left about 16 months later.  Concur Jon and Steve's posts.  I was 2i/c and this was my first job `in Branch'.


Terry was very knowledgeable, supportive and encouraging; I learned more from a few months serving with Terry than I had in the whole of my first year in the job.  I'm grateful to have been able to belatedly say this to Terry after Dave Forsey's funeral, and also that his son was present to hear it.


My thoughts are very much with Terry's family.


Rest in peace Terry.


Best wishes,




From MCDOA member Jon Riches:


"Hello Rob,


I have just seen the news of Terry Settle's death.  How very sad.


I last saw him at Dave Forsey's funeral when he gave an excellent address and he was his normal cheerful and ebullient self.  I served with him when I was Boss of the Western Fleet Clearance Diving Team and he was a Leading Seaman soon promoted to Petty Officer.  He was an excellent member of the Team, hard working; cheerful with a zest for life.  In his subsequent career he thoroughly merited the awards he received and his promotion to Warrant Officer.


My condolences to his wife and family.




20 Feb 21 - MCDOA Membership Applications


To date, 166 MCDOA membership applications have been approved via the new system but 21 applicants have yet to complete the payment process.  Please check you are not one of them via:


19 Feb 21 - Please support HMS BROCKLESBY's Charity Challenge


MCM2 Crew 8 has just taken over HMS BROCKLESBY in the Gulf and I have received this message from LS(D) Max Bumford:



"On 25th February, I and fellow members of HMS Brocklesby Crew 8 will be taking part in the arduous challenge of running 4 miles every 4 hours for 48 hours.  In other words, running 48 miles in 2 days.


This challenge is inspired and attributed to former navy SEAL and ultra marathon runner David Goggins.  The idea being that you don't need to be a marathon runner to run 4 miles and if you can't run 4 miles, then you can walk 4 miles, meaning more people can take part, raising more money for charity and pushing people to achieve big things through a series of small efforts.  In the words of David Goggins:


"This is an opportunity to bring people together for the common goal of promoting physical and mental health as well as supporting many charitable causes"


This will be a true mental and physical test as each runner tests their fitness as well as dealing with the effects of sleep deprivation.  Of course this will all be for charity, raising money for Movember and also for the Royal Navy Royal Marines Charity (RNRMC).  See our Just Giving page for more information. Any donations and even share of this post would be much appreciated to help raise money, spread awareness and get the word out there on our challenge.


Thank you,




Click here to donate via Just Giving:


MCM2 Crew 8's 4 x 4 x 48 Challenge Page


11 Feb 21 - Promotions to Lt Cdr


Congratulations to MCD officers Matt Cary (RN exchange in Australia), Tom Lewis (FDU1) and Lucy Molyneux-O'Callaghan (BRNC Dartmouth) on being selected for promotion to Lt Cdr. 


Matt Cary with family on HMS MIDDLETON's return to Portsmouth from the Gulf in August 2018


Coincidentally, I've had the pleasure of meeting Lucy on a couple of occasions.


Lucy Molyneux-O'Callaghan as Ops Officer of HMS Atherstone in May 2016


With Lucy Molyneux O'Callghan at a Ton Class Association reunion in October 2016


I hope all three rising stars will seriously consider joining our Association via and reaping the benefits.


4 Feb 21 - A busy time for SDU1


Members of the Plymouth-based Southern Diving Unit (SDU1) have certainly been kept busy during the past few days.


4 Feb - Dramatic moment anti-tank mine is detonated on Devon beach


3 Feb - More possible unexploded bombs found on South Hams beach days after anti-tank mine detonated


2 Feb 21 - Promotions to WO2


Hearty congratulations to the following personnel on their selection for promotion to Warrant Officer (Second Class):


CPO(MW) Andrew 'Nobby' Clark

CPO(MW) Si Cooke (Since left the RN)

CPO(MW) Dave Foggin


CPO(D) Marty Doherty

CPO(D) Garth Spence


LS&GC Awards


Congratulations to MCDO Lt Cdr Ross Balfour (still to join the Association, Ross) on being gazetted  for the award of the first clasp to his Naval Long Service & Good Conduct Medal and to PO(MW) B. M. Anderson, PO(D) B. W. Duncan, LS(D) L. J. P. Hill, LS(D) J. K. Lynch and LS(D) B. S. Morris on being gazetted for the award of the Naval Long Service & Good Conduct Medal.



1 Feb 21 - Death of former CPO(D) Alan Broadhurst


Troy Tempest, Secretary of the Association of RN First Class Divers (AORNFCD), has informed me that Alan Broadhurst crossed the bar on Sunday night.  He had been ill for several years following a fall at his home in Cyprus.


Alan Broadhurst with your humble webmaster shortly after his return to the UK in 2017


I am sure all members of our community will join me in extending our sincere condolences to Alan's wife Angela, his son Martin and his daughter Tracey.


From ex-CD Peter Gallant:


"I have just heard the news that Alan Broadhurst has passed away.  He had been in a nursing home for some time.


This photo shows Alan on the left dressed up with Pete 'Shorty' Barrett and me in the Portland CD team in 1962.


Alan Broadhurst, Peter 'Shorty' Barrett and Peter Gallant at Portland in 1962




Peter Gallant"


From former CPO(D) Cris Ballinger BEM:


"Hi Rob  


A real good photo of you and Alan, a lovely way to remember him.  


I have lost Angela's email address so if you do manage to see her please pass on my condolences, and of course my thoughts are with Angela and family at this time.  


I first met Alan when he joined the Reclaim, he had recently returned from Malta so had many stories to keep us entertained with.  He survived a traumatic accident while on board, but was very quickly back in the water and fit again.  We remained good friends even after I introduced him to rugby and told him he was a born prop.    


I did visit him at the home in Portsmouth after he deteriorated, and I have nothing but admiration for Angela for her devotion and care she showed, daily, on her visits to Alan.  I don't think she missed a day, unless the present day lock down has given her some respite.  


I hope this doesn't signal another awful year. 


Cheers Rob,




From former FCPO(D) John Dadd BEM:


"Sad, sad news of Alan's passing.  Although we never served in a team together our paths crossed many times as our ages and time in the branch coincided.  I first got to know Alan when, together, we cut our instructional teeth with the first baby divers courses, some learning curve but boy - did we have some fun!  


Alan remained a good pal over the subsequent years, a good man, with a great sense of humour, who was easy to like.  


The awful illness that struck all those years ago in Cyprus must have tested both him and his family to the limits ... all so unfair.  


My thoughts and prayers go to Angela and the family.  


Rest in Peace 'Deeps'.  




SDU1 deals with exposed anti-tank mines on Slapton Sands.


The Devon Live website contains these articles reporting two recent occasions when members of Plymouth-based Southern Diving Unit 1 (SDU1) disposed of anti-tank mines exposed on the beach at Slapton Sands.


31 Jan 2021 - Kids alert authorities to 'bomb' at Slapton Sands - the scene of a WWII tragedy




21 Jan 2021 - Three World War Two anti-tank mines found on Devon beach safely exploded



Big effort by HMS Chiddingfold


The Royal Navy website contains this article reporting how MCM2 Crew 1, currently manning HMS Chiddingfold in the Gulf on Operation KIPION MCM, has raised over £3,000 for a Hampshire charity.  The Rainbow Centre helps children with cerebral palsy and adults with MS, Parkinson’s and those recovering from strokes.



31 Jan 21 - EOD call-out for SDU1


The Plymouth Live website contains this article reporting yesterday's call-out for members of Plymouth-based Southern Diving Unit 1 (SDU1) to deal with a suspected hand grenade.  The item turned out to be something else.


SDU1 is part of Southern Diving Group (SDG) commanded by MCDOA Membership Secretary Al Magill.


Lt Cdr Alasdair Magill RN - CO SDG
(RN website photo)


30 Jan 21 - NDG deals with unexploded ordnance


The Irvine Times website contains this article reporting Thursday's disposal of suspected military ordnance on the beach at Irvine by members of Faslane-based Northern Diving Group (NDG).


29 Jan 21 - RN to receive "world class" autonomous minesweepers


The Royal Navy website has published this article announcing that a contract of around £25m has been awarded to Atlas Elektronik UK to supply three 'SWEEP' autonomous minesweeping systems.  The article features MCDOA member Mark Atkinson.




These systems will complement the three autonomous maritime mine countermeasures (MMCM) minehunting systems orderered through a joint production contract with France worth £184m as reported in this article on the Royal Navy website on 26 November 2020.  Each set of equipment comprises a portable operation centre, an autonomous surface vessel, towed sonar and a mine neutralisation system.



28 Jan 21 - RN Diving Heritage: Former WO(D) Peter Still


Close astern of his previous opus about former CPO(D) Mike O'Meara and the 'Salvage of the Century' (see entry for 24 Jan 21), CD branch legend Ginge Fullen has kindly sent me the latest in his series of 'Chronicles of a Clearance Diver'.  Titled 'The Atmospheric Divers', it features former WO(D) Peter Still and is subtitled 'Still Waters Run Deep' (Geddit?).  Among his many achievements, Peter was the Coxswain of the Ton class minehunter HMS BRONINGTON when the Prince of Wales was in Command and HRH Prince Charles has been gracious enough to write the foreword.




Like Ginge's other books in the series, The Atmospheric Divers is available from him direct or via the RNCDA website.


27 Jan 21 - Death of Dr Sidney Alford OBE - A sad loss to EOD


I was so sorry to hear the news that Sidney had crossed the bar, and so soon after his US Navy accolade. They don’t make them like him anymore; not only brilliant but a warm, eccentric character, too, with an acerbic wit.  He will be sorely missed.


Sincere condolences to Sidney's family, close friends and colleagues.  RIP.



Only the day before his death, Sidney was presented with a US Navy Distinguished Public Service Award, including a medal, by Lt Stephen Honan USN on behalf of the Joint EOD community.  With the current restrictions due to Covid-19 the presentation ceremony was held at the Alford Group's office in Trowbridge with 15 generals and admirals joining in via video conference, as well as some of Sidney's old friends.



26 Jan 21 - Advance Australia Fair


Happy Australia Day to all our mates down under.


1984 - Australia Day in Vernon Club at HMS VERNON

Back: Rankin RN (later RAN), Burroughs RAN, Kennedy RAN, Unknown, Sewell RAN,

Day RAN, Davey RAN (later RN).

Front: Turner RN (later RNZN), Hoole RN, Davies RN, Griffith RAN)


Congratulations to the MCDO and two CDs in the 2021 Australia Day Honours List:





LSCD Steven Palu was awarded a Conspicuous Service Medal in the 2021 Australia Day Honours and Awards list, for meritorious devotion to duty during the operation to recover a United States Marine Corp MV-22 Osprey aircraft that crashed off the coast of Queensland in August 2017 with the loss of three United States Marines.  Although Leading Seaman Palu suffered from the debilitating effects of the challenging underwater environment and malfunctioning equipment, he demonstrated courage, determination and dedication to duty by completing the task.  Leading Seaman Palu’s refusal to release the body of a Marine guaranteed its return to the grieving family.





Rear Admiral Robert William Plath RAN - For exceptional service to the Royal Australian Navy in senior command and representational positions.





Warrant Officer Matthew Ian Hurley - For meritorious service in the fields of Clearance Diving and leadership as a Warrant Officer in the Royal Australian Navy.


The complete list is available here:


Australia Day 2021 Honours List


25 Jan 21 - MCM1 Crew 7 takes over HMS Shoreham from Crew 5


The Royal Navy website contains this article announcing that MCM1 Crew 7 is taking over HMS Shoreham from MCM1 Crew 5 on Operation KIPION in the Gulf.  Ship's companies have started rotating every four months instead of the previous six to eight.


MCM1 Crew 5 on board HMS Shoreham 

(RN website image)


From the top: HMS Montrose, HMS Penzance, HMS Shoreham and HMS Brocklesby

(RN website image)


24 Jan 21 - RN Diving Heritage: Salvage diver's biography


As ever, I am grateful to Clearance Diving branch legend Eamon 'Ginge' Fullen for a copy of the latest in his series of 'Chronicles of a Clearance Diver'.  This one, subtitled 'Salvage of the Century', focuses on the life and career of ex-CD Mike O'Meara who was involved in the salvage of gold from the wartime wreck of the cruiser HMS Edinburgh in 1981.  It also details all the major salvage jobs that the CD branch has undertaken since the first course in 1949 including submarines, ships, aeroplanes and helicopters, murder weapons, secret documents, diamond rings and even a bag of hands!  It is thoroughly recommended. 




Like Ginge's other publications, this book can be purchased via the RNCDA website.


23 Jan 21 - SNMCMG1 off Portsmouth


I am grateful to Amy Savage for these long-range photos of the Estonian minehunter ENS UGANDI, formerly HMS BRIDPORT, among other units of Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1 (SNMCMG1) transiting the Solent off Portsmouth this morning.


ENS UGANDI (formerly HMS BRIDPORT) transiting the Solent this morning


BNS LOBELIA transiting the Solent this morning


FGS DATTELN transiting the Solent this morning


20 Jan 21 - Call-out for NDG


The Aberdeen Press & Journal contains this article reporting a call-out for Faslane-based Northern Diving Group (NDG) to deal with suspected explosive ordnance on the Isle of Lewis.


19 Jan 21 - Contract placed for autonomous MCM systems


The Ministry of Defence website contains this article reporting the award of a contract to Atlas Elektronik UK for the production of three autonomous minesweeping systems.


The Royal Navy's autonomous mine sweeping system (SWEEP) being trialed


17 Jan 21 - SDU2 deals with ordnance on IOW


The Isle of Wight County Press website has published this article reporting an EOD task in Bembridge on the IOW performed by members of Portsmouth-based Southern Diving Unit 2 (SDU2).



15 Jan 21 - Latest tweets  


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


NATO Maritime Command


15 Jan 2021 - Our Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1 (SNMCMG1) has a new Command.  Thank you Lithuanian Armed Forces for all the hard work, achievements, dedication & resilience leading the group in the second half of 2020 and welcome, the new Command under the Royal Netherlands Navy.



HMS Brocklesby (MCM2 Crew 6)


4 Jan 2021 - Ever had that feeling you're being followed?  Off out with little sis HMS Chiddingfold.



HMS Chiddingfold (MCM2 Crew 1)


14 Jan 2021 - No sailor has one single job onboard CHID.  Meet AB(D) Bill Bailey our senior AB Diver onboard; here he is as part of the guns crew.  Born in Manchester, made in the Royal Navy.


12 Jan 2021 - Meet ET (ME) Buck, about to celebrate his fourth Navy Birthday.  Having three OP KIPIONs under his belt he has recently qualified for LET, making his daughter Lily proud.  Born in Hull, made in the Royal Navy.


5 Jan 2021 - *Update* The Ships company have currently covered 841 km of which 122 km has been swam (4882 lengths), 378 km cycled, 298 km has been run and 43 km has been rowed!  Keep donating and keep following our challenge!



2 Jan 2021 - In the first week of January, every member of the ship’s company will complete 37 km in 7 days.  This is for a charity close to our hearts, Rainbow Charity.  Please click the link to our JustGiving page for more information:


HMS Penzance (MCM1 Crew 3)


12 Jan 2021 - Congratulations to ET(ME) Shepherd for earning December's Sailor of the Month prize.  The engineers have worked incredibly hard during a recent maintenance period and ET(ME) Shepherd's efforts were particularly noteworthy.  BZ!



HMS Shoreham (MCM1 Crew 5)


12 Jan 2021 - Up close and personal with HMS Brocklesby!  Shoreham and other MCMs welcomed UKMCC Bahrain and his team for a visit.  The closer we work together as a team, the better we are at promoting regional stability and protecting civilian shipping in the region.



13 Jan 21 - BRNC Dartmouth 'Ex-Lower Deck' Division to be named after Brian Dutton


I am delighted to announce that the Division for the new WOCP (Warrant Officers' Commissioning Programme) at Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth is being named after the late MCDOA member Lt Cdr Brian Dutton DSO QGM RN who crossed the bar on 23 April 2018 (see entry for 25 May 18 in News Archive 62).


Brian & his late wife Audrey with grandson at an MCDOA Barbecue on Horsea Island in July 2005


Brian Dutton with Prince Harry at Project Vernon 'Falklands 35' fundraising dinner

at Trinity House in July 2017


I am particularly grateful to BRNC Staff Officer Lt Cdr Adam Macdonald RN for sparking this initiative and to MCDOA member John 'YoYo' Ravenhall for assisting him with his task while recently undergoing the WOCP himself.  Adam's proposal was approved by MCDOA President Roger Readwin, the Captain of BRNC.


Brian's sons Gary, Bernard and Frank (all ex-RN) have offered to loan BRNC their father's commission, citations, sword and medals for display. 


Brian Dutton's sword and medals


Download and read this PDF file for full details including Brian's biography:


BRNC Temporary Training Memorandum - Warrant Officers' Commissioning Programme Divisional Name


From Brian's son Frank:


"Bernard, Gary and I [all ex-RN] plus the rest of the family are so proud this has happened.  It is a very unique distinction for a 'junior' officer to be recongnized in this way.  It also offers recognition to the MCD Branch, a branch that Dad was so proud to serve in."


From Brian's son Gary:


"As a family we are honoured that our father is being remembered in this way.  The news has gone out across the globe to family in Australia, Canada and Brazil.  So chuffed and in my brother Frank's words 'Stoked'.


Stay safe all."


11 Jan 21 - Second MCM Squadron Change of Command


Fair winds and following seas to MCDOA members Simon Cox and Rich Talbot who has superseded him as MCM2 (Commander of the Portsmouth-based Second MCM Squadron).



Rich Talbot (left) and Simon Cox beside No. 2 Basin in Portsmouth Naval Base


Simon tells me he is now working " MOD as the sole Navy guy in the Defence Strat-Pol Team.  The title is DSP SO1 Strategy Maritime.  Currently focused on Integrated Review business." 


5 Jan 21 - Latest LS&GC Awards


Congratulations to LS(MW) M. N. Jacobs and LS(MW) D. W. Roberts on being gazetted for the award of the Naval Long Service and Good Conduct Medal.


1 Jan 21 - MBE for 'Central' Heaton


Lt Cdr Séan 'Central' Heaton MBE beside Horsea Lake


I am sure all members will join me in congratulating Lt Cdr Séan Heaton aka 'Central' on his well-deserved appointment as an MBE (Military Division) in the 2021 New Year Honours as announced on the Royal Navy website:




One of the navy’s most experienced bomb disposal experts receives an MBE for his inspirational leadership and operational achievements.


Under Lieutenant Commander Sean ‘Central’ Heaton’s leadership, specialist divers from Portsmouth and Plymouth-based bomb disposal units rendered safe or disposed of nearly 16,000 items of conventional ordnance (sea mines, torpedoes, hand grenades, mortars and bombs dropped by aircraft), as well as successfully dealing with 97 present-day Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).


Among the most high-profile tasks during his two-and-a-half year spell in charge of the Southern Diving Group was a 500lb Luftwaffe bomb found in February 2018 on the bottom of London’s King George V Docks – next to London City Airport.


His citation said:


“He relentlessly delivered very-high-tempo operations, above and beyond that expected of his rank and his peers, with an admirable dedication to his people. His devotion, commitment and professional ability has been extraordinary, and he most strongly deserves official recognition.”


Originally from Wigan and with more than 30 years’ service in the Royal Navy under his belt, Lieutenant Commander Heaton said he was honoured to have been singled out. He added: “This decoration is as much a recognition of the brave, dedicated and immensely professional men and women that were under my command during my time in Southern Diving Group.”




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