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

31 Dec 11 - GOD (Grumpy Old Divers) Squad returns


From MCDOA member Mike Welford in Australia:




On a lighter note, please be advised that some ex-RN and ex-RAN MCDOs are STILL diving.  See this extract from the Cebu Chronicle and enjoy.  


May we all have a more prosperous New Year in 2012.




GOD (Grumpy Old Divers) squad returns from diving in Malacapascua


"Two ex-Naval Officers, one Leading Stoker, a Sergeant parachute rigger and three Civvies (with an average age of 63) returned today from Malapascua, a small island off Cebu Province in the Philippines.  The seven Grumpy Old Divers (GOD), masquerading as defrocked priests, wreaked havoc on the island and surrounds for nearly eleven days with their bawdy songs, heavy drinking and womanising (the latter in their dreams).  We are advised that, far from being frightened by the outlandish behaviour, the locals were greatly amused and even asked them to return the next year as they had contributed so much to the island’s economy in terms of finance and footwear.


Tony, Phil, Mike (Welford), Dive Mistress Sheelagh, Dive Master

Jules, John, Robert, Boat Skipper, Graham (Sharp Paul) and Don


Luckily there were few casualities to the priests and the environment as the local thresher sharks, in particular, had been warned of the impending visit and, despite getting up at zero five tinkle ringbolt every day to view these monsters, the sharks were able to remain invisible until the penultimate day of their visit. 


The Dive Masters and Mistresses supervising the dives were greatly frustrated in the early stages of the dives as, when various amazing and colourful aquatic species were pointed out to some of the defrocked priests, the latter showed little or no interest!  Eventually it was ascertained that very few of the priests could see anything less than an inch long and, if much below 10 to 15 feet, they could not discern colours.  After this initial misunderstanding, priests and Dive Masters got along quite well.  Whilst most members of the GOD squad were happy to dive to 100 feet, one intrepid (decrepit?) priest had to crack the 100 meters.


Whilst these cats were away, the mice did play and those spouses in the Canberra Region took off for the highlands around Mount Kosciusko taking in the scenery and shopping to their hearts content.


(From our correspondent in Malapascua, a recently retired journalist from the News of the World.  Any hacking into mobile phones for this report is emphatically denied and if proven was caused by a slip of the finger when dialling.)"


30 Dec 11 - Death of Master Chief Petty Officer Patrick (Pat) Warren USN


More bad news, I'm afraid.  Ex-CD1 Perry Mason has asked me to publish this announcement:


"It is with great sadness I have to report the death of Master Chief Petty Officer Patrick (Pat) Warren USN.  Pat was the exchange Master Chief Petty Officer at DEODS back in 1978.  He was a master joker and an amiable host to all who passed through DEODS back in that time frame.  I know that John Meakin, Tug Wilson, Terry Settle and John Dadd (to name a few) knew him well.


According to his wife Carol, he had been ill for some time and went into hospital with flu-like symptoms.  It was later found that his heart was only working at 5% and he was put into hospice care at the weekend.  He finally succumbed to his illness at 4:40 on Thursday 29 December 2011.  Carol has asked that I provide her contact details.  I will also post the funeral information as soon as I know it.




I am sure all members of the RN minewarfare and diving community will join me in extending our commiserations to Pat's widow Carol.  I can provide her contact details on request.


Postscript: The Zanesville Post Recorder published this obituary on 31 December 2011.


29 Dec 11


Death of Lt Cdr Tim Trounson MBE RN


I regret to report the sad news that MCDOA member Tim Trounson (LCDO '63 and MW Conversion during LMCDO '70) succumbed to cancer on Christmas Day at the age of 74.  I was informed by fellow MCDOA member Bruce Mackay this morning.  Tim's wife Pat passed away in March this year.


LCDO '63 Course Photo


Members of LMCDO '70 at the Annual Dinner in November 2005

(Tim Paul, the late Tim Trounson, Alan Padwick (Boss),

the late Terry Digges, David Cartlidge and Martyn Holloway)


A cremation will take place on 10 January in the presence of family but a Thanksgiving Service will be held at The Minster Church in Warminster, Wilts on Saturday 28 January at 1400.  Family flowers only, donations to RNLI.  All will be welcome afterwards at the Weymouth Arms, Emwell Street, Warminster, BA12 8JA.  Enquiries to F Curtis & Son, 01985 212033.


Tim Curd, Stu Harper and the late Tim Trounson chatting with

MCDOA Chairman Chris Baldwin at the AGM in November 2010


Tim Trounson flanked by comedian Shep Woolley

and David Sandiford at the Annual Dinner in 2003


Tim Trounson and Doug Barlow at the Annual Dinner in 2003


I have conveyed my condolences to Tim's son Jonathan.  I am sure all members of the RN minewarfare and diving community will join me in extending our deep sympathy to Tim's family on their sad losses this year.


Postscript: The Times published this obituary and the Daily Telegraph published this obituary on 30 December 2011.


From John O'Driscoll MBE (LCDO '65):




So sad to see the loss of one of the old brigade.  Always great company and a real character.


I shall attend the service if I possibly can.


Yours Aye,


John O'D"


From Cyril Lafferty (LCDO '63):


"Rob, Peter et al,


Tim, Bruce McKay, Ted Stratton, Tony Sanee and I were all on the same CDO Course (before the M was added).  None of us has been very good at keeping in touch, probably my fault.  But the sad news of Tim's death also brings many good memories.


I hope the Memorial Service goes well and I am sorry I will not be able to attend as I will be abroad.




From MCDOA Honorary Teasurer Richard 'Soapy' Watson:




Very sad news!  I have met Tim a couple of times over the years - a great loss! 


I will make the arrangements for a donation from the association to the RNLI.


Kind Regards,




From Jon Riches in France (LMCDO '66):




How very sad. I never actually served with Tim but had many dealings with him when I was OIC of the Western Fleet CD Team and he was Boss of the FOSNI team.  I also had dealings with him when I was in DNW in the MOD.  He was always unfailingly helpful and cheerful and he will be a sad loss to the MCD community and also to the MCDOA where he was very supportive member.


I will certainly make every effort to make the Memorial Service.




From John Lang (LMCDO '66):




How very sad.  Have not seen Tim in a number of years.  We served together in Safeguard, Scotland many moons ago.  He was also Godfather to one of my sons.


Please pass on my condolences.




From Peter Waddington (LCDO '64)




Very sad news about Tim.  Yet another contemporary gone.  He relieved me as MCM1's SMCDO and XO of ABDIEL, apart from which we only occasionally crossed paths, except socially, while serving.  He was, however, also one of my Dartmouth term-mates, so acquaintance goes back a very long way, and we hailed each other as friends when we did meet.


If you are able to pass on individual condolences to Jonathan, please do so on my behalf.  Doubly sad that he should lose both his parents in the same year.






From Mike Welford in Australia (LMCDO '71):




Thanks for the terribly sad news about Tim.  Should you make it to the funeral, please convey my thoughts to Jonathan.


It was only after leaving the RN that I discovered we both went to the same school (Blundell’s) when I attended an OB reunion in Tiverton for our 400th on one of my many Government-paid visits to England whilst in the RAN (must have been 2004?)  I did not know him well whilst in the RN, but found him to be a really nice guy, with a great sense of humour.  Somewhere, I still have a picture of us in the original school grounds (no doubt planning some scurrilous affair to take the Mick out of the Chairman of the event... an RM Brigadier!).  Although we did not communicate regularly, I had heard from him in the last few years but I was not aware of any problems and subsequently lost e-mail connection due to system problems.


Naturally we will not be able to attend but we will be there in spirit.


Best wishes for a better year in 2012.




From Martyn Holloway (LMCDO '70):


"Tim was always good fun to be around.  He joined LMCDO '70 for his MW conversion along with such stalwarts as Bob Pilling, Piggy Page and Les Maynard.  One day we flew up to RAF Brawdy in a Pussers Heron so that the Course could visit RNAD Milford Haven.  After a tedious time visiting one cavernous magazine full of mines after another we were asked if there was anything we should like to do or see again.  Tim piped up and asked whether we could have another ride on the train that serviced the depot.  Up to that point that had been the highlight of the day.  


It is a sad day and I shall miss him.




From Dan Nicholson (LMCDO '70):




Many thanks for your information.  Poor old Tim - one of life's 'proper officers'.






From Geoff Goodwin (LMCDO '74):


"Hi Rob,


I was very sorry to hear about Tim Trounson.  I did not know him well but nonetheless found him to always be friendly and often the life and soul of any party. 


Please pass on my condolences to his family.




Geoff Goodwin"


From Alan Padwick OBE (Course Officer for LMCDO '70):


"Dear Rob,


Thank you for letting us all know.  My first appointment after Dartmouth was to relieve Tim as Correspondence and Gunnery officer of HMS Stubbington.  I am very sorry to hear the news.


Alan Padwick"


Yachting Monthly's Crash Test Boat


As a yachtsman, I was intrigued by this article in the Portsmouth News describing the transport of the 1982 Jeanneau Sun Fizz ketch 'Fizzical' from Hamble Point Marina to London’s ExCeL where it will be displayed at the Tullett Prebon London Boat Show next year.  The article states that the yacht, used by Yachting Monthly to promote safety awareness, was blown up by the Royal Navy off the Isle of Wight to demonstrate the effects of a gas explosion on board.  Mistakenly thinking that the Fleet Diving Squadron was involved, I found this article on the Admiral Boat Insurance website together with this graphic video of the event: 


28 Dec 11 - Taff Sweeney retires after 50 years in uniform


The RAN Clearance Diving Association website's Notice Board contains an article describing the retirement of ex-RN MCDO Lt Cdr Dennis 'Taff' Sweeney RAN after 50 years in naval uniform (24 years RN and 26 years RAN).  He was presented with a parting gift by MCDOA honorary member Vice Admiral Russ Crane, former Chief of the Royal Australian Navy, at a ceremony held at the RAN Diving School in HMAS Penguin on 9 December 2011.


Taff Sweeney being presented with a memento of his service

by Vice Admiral Russ Crane

(RAN Clearance Diving Association photo)


I am sure that all members of the RN minewarfare & diving community will join me in wishing Taff a long and happy retirement.


24 Dec 11


Navy captain makes time to mark day


Today's Portsmouth News contains this article describing Christmas Day plans for HMS Pembroke in the Gulf.


Christmas won’t be the same without seeing my three kids’


Ian Geraghty


Today's Portsmouth News also contains this article featuring MCDOA member Ian Geraghty who is participating in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race on board Geraldton Western Australia.  The fleet departed from Southport Yacht Club, New South Wales on Australia's Gold Coast today for its next leg to Singapore.


Ian Geraghty on board Geraldton WA

(Don't ask me about the fetching pink dress!)


Ian left Southampton on 31 July and our thoughts are with all those who will be away from their families this Christmas, particularly members of the Royal Navy's minewarfare & diving community.


23 Dec 11 - UK visit by David Honour


Yesterday I at last had the pleasure of meeting David Honour, nephew of Lt Cdr Stuart 'Jazz' Honour MBE RN (see entry for 10 Jun 10 in News Archive 30), while he was visiting the UK from working in Mauritius although he lives in South Africa.  He was accompanied by his sister Lynne, a resident of Ashtead in Surrey, and we rendezvoused in the Old Customs House pub at Gunwharf Quays, formerly the Captain's offices in HMS Vernon.


David Honour and his sister Lynne


David was particularly keen to pass me letters written by his uncle during his eventful naval career and the handover took place in what had once been Vernon's typing pool:


David Honour hands over his uncle's correspondence


After lunch, I showed David and Lynne around Gunwharf Quays and we paused near a collecting box which Peter Emery, the Centre Director, has kindly had installed for donations towards the Project Vernon monument intended to commemorate the minewarfare & diving heritage of the site.  We put a few bob into the box but donations can also be made online via the Project's Virgin Giving webpage here.


David and Lynne flanking the Project Vernon collection box


Artist's impression of the Project Vernon monument when in situ


Before going our separate ways, a passing stranger was kind enough to take this photo of our trio in front of one of the Mk 17 moored mines on display at Gunwharf Quays.


Rob Hoole with David Honour and his sister Lynne




I have since received this from Stuart Honour's nephew, David:


"Hi Rob,


Well I’m back in the tropics again now, a little different to the temperature we had at Gunwharf Quays, it was 36 degrees when I was in Port Louis earlier today.   Thank you so much for meeting Lynne and I last month and showing us around the old HMS Vernon sites; we both thoroughly enjoyed the day out.


I’ve attached the photos we took handing over Uncle Stuart’s letters for you to add to the website if you want.  I hope the letters have been of interest and would appreciate to know when you pass them on to the Royal Navy Museum eventually.


All the very best for 2012.


Dave Honour


P.S. Interesting to see that Uncle Stuart gets in the photo of the article dated 29 December 2011.  Just can’t seem to keep him out of the limelight! "


I have also received this from Stuart Honour's neice, Lynne:


"Yes, I noticed that.  At first I thought it was part of our article but then realised Uncle Stuart’s picture had sneaked in to another two!  


I must say I was impressed with the detail and scope of the newsletter – now I can see why it keeps you so occupied.  Got rather carried away reading it then realised I ought to get on with some work!  


Thank you so much for taking time out to show us around.  I thoroughly enjoyed soaking up a bit more history and finally getting to see Gunwharf Quays but I am still not sure about the aesthetic qualities of that huge crane!!!




22 Dec 11


Celtic Postal Bombs Effort Stands Out In Award Winning Year For Clyde Diving Team


The RN website contains this article describing the achievements that resulted in the award of the Diving Unit Effectiveness Trophy for 2011 to Northern Diving Group (NDG).  The article features MCDOA member Kev Stockton, the Commanding Officer of NDG.


MCDOA member Kev Stockton


Re-enactment of Second World War Rendering Mines Safe (RMS)


A few days ago I received this unusual request for information:


"Dear Rob,


I hope you don't mind me contacting you like this but I am desparately trying to find technical information about rendering safe German magnetic/acoustic mines (LMA/LMB). [Designated GD and GC respectively by the British.]


I am a teacher with a keen interest in naval issues during WW2 and have found myself getting involved in re-enacting.  Having read many books on this subject and found Noel Cashford's story and books inspiring, I have gone about re-creating a scenario where I render safe a replica parachute mine as an RNVR officer.  I have been invited to display at Explosion! The Museum of Naval Firepower next April when they are having a 1940s weekend.  [If Tony looks at the interactive displays in the museum's Mining Hall, he may see a familiar bearded, bespectacled face.]


I have tried very hard to make this as realistic as possible, except the big bang!  However, I have really struggled to find technical details beyond the accounts and descriptions given by officers of the day.  I would particulary like to read and perhaps copy the RN manuals on this topic.  Noel has mentioned them several times in his book.  Also the internal details are very scarce: what did a detonator look like; what was the bakelite cover like; how many wires, etc?  All of this information would help make my scenario more accurate.


It was whilst reading Noel's last book that I suddenly twigged that I had read posts from you on the World Naval Ships Forum relating to Cdr Ouvry and though I might perhaps try contacting you.  If you are interested I can send you a few pictures of the replica mine and perhaps we can discuss further sources of information.


Again, many thanks for your time and I hope to hear from you in the near future.


Kind regards,


Tony Boyle"


I sent Tony some of the information he wanted and received this in reply:


"Dear Rob,


Thank you so much for the information you have sent me. I wasn’t expecting it so quickly.  I will set about printing it out and reading through it.


Thanks for you reference to Steve Venus’ website.  I have been in touch with Steve who has been incredibly useful.  He provided me with some photographs which enabled me to get the detail necessary to make a replica of the VzZ34 fuze which I use in my demonstration:




This is the replica of the LMB [GC] mine I have made:












I have found people at the events where I demonstrate this RMS procedure are very interested.  Most are totally unaware of the danger mines represented and the vital role the Royal Navy played in making them safe.  I often get people who have childhood memories of wartime bombing come up and talk about their experiences and recount encounters with these mines.  The most rewarding experience was a young boy who came up and shook my hand thanking me for telling him about these events and the people involved.  I do find it a very gratifying experience to keep the memory of those brave men going.  


As I said earlier I have read widely period accounts.  Strangely, I just started reading ‘Mines over Malta’ this morning only to find you had written the preface!  However, these moving accounts are generally lacking detail of the technical information.  For example, I have yet to find a picture of the primer used in these mines which was behind the sprung release mechanism, I have not found a picture of the detonator on the opposite side and its wiring which was beneath the Bakelite cover, etc.  These are the sorts of things I hope to find to make the demonstration more accurate.  Secondly I hope to research the rendering safe procedures in better detail.


Steve sent me a couple of pages from a manual but ideally I would like more information on this area too. Have you ever come across the manual below?  There are three parts 3, 3a and 3b I think. If you know of a copy is there any way I could view it?



So again, many thanks for your time and effort and hope to meet you sometime.  


Best wishes for Christmas and the New Year,


Kind regards,




Tony's re-enctment should take place at the Explosion! Museum of Naval Firepower in Gosport on Saturday 14 April during a 'Spirit of the 40s' weekend.  Is there anyone out there who can help him further with his quest for information? 


20 Dec 11 - Pembroke says konnichiwa and howdy on exercises in the Gulf


The Navy News website contains this article describing Exercise UNIFIED SHIELD in the Gulf involving HMS Pembroke, HMS Ramsey and HMS Quorn with the US Navy minehunters USS Gladiator and USS Dextrous and the Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force minehunter JDS Tsushima and minesweeper support ship JDS Uraga.


US and Japanese ships trail HMS Pembroke out of Bahrain

(Navy News photo)


19 Dec 11 - December Navy News


The December issue of Navy News, containing several items of MCD interest, can be downloaded here.  


17 Dec 11 - Minehunters battle through Gulf storms during joint exercise with the Saudis


As the RN Training Officer for the ships' companies joining the first two Royal Saudi Naval Force (RNSF) Vosper-built Al Jawf class minehunters (similar to the Sandowns) in the early 1990s, I was particularly interested to see this article on the Navy News website describing recent exercises in the Gulf involving Al Jawf and Al Kharj with HMS Middleton and HMS Ramsey.  It sounds as though the weather provided its own challenges.


His Majesty's Ship Al Kharj

(Navy News photo)


16 Dec 11 - TCA Christmas lunch 



I always enjoy the annual Ton Class Association (TCA) Christmas lunch at the Royal Maritime Club in Portsmouth because it tends to end up being an anarchic affair.  Yesterday proved no exception and I would like to extend my thanks to Chris Green for organising it with his usual flair.  Apart from me, MCDOA members present included Doug Barlow, Bob Lusty and Brian Dutton (with his wife Audrey) as well as ex-CD1 Les Sharpe and his partner Valerie.



Things start off relatively seriously until...



...Dutton and Barlow discover their goody bags

Right: Bob Lusty and Audrey Dutton



Left: Les Sharpe and his partner Ruth

Right: Chris and Dulcie Green


Eddie and Valerie Savage



The 'top' table



The 'bottom' tables



14 Dec 11 - Alex is diving into a successful career


The Donside Piper and Herald website contains this article describing the successful completion of the CD Basic course by AB(D) Alex Briggs of Banchory.  The article also features MCDOA member Tom Russell, Commanding Officer of the Defence Diving School (DDS).


13 Dec 11 - IExpE meeting at Explosion! Museum of Naval Firepower



Last night I attended a South-West & Central Branch meeting of the Institute of Explosives Engineers (IExpE) at the Explosion! Museum of Naval Firepower in Gosport.   Around two dozen IExpE members were present including fellow MCDOA members Stu Harper and Angus Benton as well as ex-CDs Colin 'Scouse' Kidman and Ricky McCabe.  We were treated to a tour of the museum conducted by Marc Farrance, the Visitor Services Officer, before convening in the boardroom for an Institute presentation followed by a workshop.


MCDOA members Stu Harper and Angus Benton

with ex-CD Ricky McCabe 



Left: IExpE members Alan Morley, Major Peter Norton GC, RLC and Angus Benton

Right: Alan Morley talks with Colin Kidman in the background


12 Dec 11


Defence Diving School represent RN at Exercise Racing Ice


Lt Gregg Powell RN


The RN website contains this article describing the participation of of Lt Gregg Powell and AB(D) Mark Elson of the Defence Diving School (DDS) as members of the RN Skeleton Bobsled team in Exercise Racing Ice, an arduous Army-led training week at the German National Sliding Centre, Winterburg last month.  The RN Skeleton Team is led and managed by former Team GB athlete and international coach PO(D) Sid Lawrence of DDS and will compete at the Inter-Service Championships to be held in March 2012 at Igls, Austria.


An RN Skeleton Bobsleigher

(RN website photo)


Historical Diving Society's bunker involves all the Johns



The interior walls of the Second World War bunker in Gosport, destined to become the Historical Diving Society's (HDS) library and repository for surplus artefacts from the Diving Museum at Stokes Bay, have now been filled, scraped, rubbed down and painted.  Here is HDS Chairman and MCDOA associate member Dr John Bevan getting to grips with a vacuum cleaner in preparation for painting the decks:


John Bevan in action


Deck painting was conducted over the weekend by former WO(D) John Dadd, John Millerchip and John Towse:


John Towse, John Millerchip and John Dadd 



Deck painting complete in the two main rooms 


John Bevan says that the next stage will involve moving some of the more perishable artefacts from the diving museum to overwinter in the dryer environment of the bunker.  If you can help in any way, please contact him via this email address or call him on 07802 785050.


11 Dec 11 - Update from Mona Lott in Australia


I have previously covered the legendary Lt Cdr Stuart 'Jazz' Honour MBE RN in the entry for 10 Jun 10 in News Archive 30 but former FCPO(D) Dave 'Mona' Lott BEM, author of 'A Corkhead's Chronicle - Experiences of a Royal Navy Clearance Diver 1955-76' and longtime resident of Eden, NSW in Australia, has passed me this story which has particular resonance following the recent MCM operations off Libya:


"G'day Rob,


Please bear with me as this is slightly long-winded but you might find it as coincidental as I do. 


Last night I was going back through my umpteen photo albums which are separated into the various teams and periods of my RN service.  I had promised Les Maynard [a former RN CDO also living in Australia] copies of two photos taken in Benghazi that I have from 1958.  Half of the Med Fleet Clearance Diving Team (including Yours Truly) was in Cyprus performing searches of the underwater sections of a large contingent of the Med Fleet and RFAs at anchor off Famagusta at 0400 each morning  (EOKA and Colonel Grivas's terrorist times).  The other half was in Tripoli and clearing Benghazi harbour of much ordnance including quite a few German GG ground mines.


Anyway Les Maynard was one of the lucky ones at Benghazi.  Although he is NOT in the photographs, I had finally got around to scanning these photos with comments hand-written by Jazz Honour on the backs.  One of these photos was on the same page as an underwater photo of a sunken British moored mine.


Sunken British moored mine in Mediterranean in 1958


Here's the other one from Benghazi (1958).  Please note the 'Gemini' with twin three-manpower engines at bottom left.  On the back of this photo Jazz has inscribed: "One of hundreds, a full photographic record is being kept."


Mine disposal in Benghazi harbour in 1958


Anyway, I had finally gathered together the stuff to post to Les which I was going to send today.  However, I first had to visit the Doc for my monthly check on the level of rat poison in the body.  As I was driving home, I passed a stationary 4-wheel drive with a trailer attached.  Lashed down on the trailer I saw what I thought was an old British buoyant mine.  I reached the town's roundabout and then returned along my previous route as my curiosity nagged at me.  I parked and walked back to the 4-wheel drive and, sure enough, it was an old and very decrepit M Mk1 (minus its explosive - I checked!) as I had thought.  To me, this was a considerable coincidence after doing Les's scans the previous night because there aren't too many British buoyant mines swanning it around in the Eden area I can assure you.  


After quite a long talk with the 4-wheel driver, it turned out that there is a museum in the small township of Mallacoota in Victoria, just over the border from Eden.  That was where the mine was headed.  One comment from the driver was that he was disappointed that there were no "spikes" on this mine at which point I explained why.  This prompted the question as to how I knew about mines?  A short and brief history followed in reply.  I then volunteered (something that we aren't supposed to do) and offered to send some facts and display material.  So today I have pulled out all of my old CD3 qualifying B & MD material (I knew that it would come in handy one day... some 56 years later) and gathered together quite a few scans from old HMS Vernon pamphlets on Brit buoyant mines. 


I have attached the scans of the photos for your interest and for Jock as he was also at Benghazi with Les.  On the back of this photo, Jazz has commented: "The day the GGs were found. What a shower."


Stuart Honour with members of the Mediterranean Fleet

Clearance Diving Team at Benghazi in 1958


Finally, I spoke to Les Maynard earlier today.  Unfortunately, his current prognosis for pancreatic cancer is not good and he is having quite a rough time."


I know that everyone will join me in thanking Mona Lott for his entertaining 'dit' and in wishing Les Maynard the best possible future in such difficult circumstances.


9 Dec 11 - Last MWA Southern Area 'Dit Session' of the year


Members of the Minewarfare Association (MWA) gathered at the Lord Arthur Lee in Fareham last night for the last Southern Area 'Dit Session' of the year.  Those present included MCDOA members Tim Curd, Bill Kerr and Rob Hoole plus Bagsy Baker, Taff Davies, Dixie Dean, Steve Gill, John Gunter, Bob Mitchell, Peter Hitchcock, Pony Moore and Taff Reader.  Our volunteer photographer nearly cut out Pete Hitchcock (extreme left) but luckily I'd already taken a snap of him with Bob Mitchell who had to leave early.  I can't say we solved the Euro crisis but we'd have had a damned good try if the subject had arisen.



Left: (Left to right) Pete Hitchcock, Bill Kerr, Rob Hoole, Tim Curd, Taff Reader, Bagsy Baker,

Pony Moore, Steve Gill, Taff Davies, John Gunter and Dixie Dean

Right: Pete Hitchcock and Bob Mitchell


Incidentally, MCDOA associate member Doug Barlow and his partner Jill have just returned from a Fred Olsen cruise around the Mediterranean.  Among the first people they met on board were ex-MW branch stalwart George Turnbull and his wife Louise.


8 Dec 11 - Prime Minister hosts veterans of Libya campaign


Dixie Dean MBE, Chairman of the Minewarfare Association (MWA), has drawn my attention to this article on the MoD website describing a special reception at No 10 Dowing Street for service personnel involved in the Libyan campaign.  The Prime Minister remarked on how the cabinet were anxious to know whether the 'minesweeper would make it through to Misurata'.  As Dixie says, he obviously doesn't know the minewarfare fraternity very well.


As regular followers of this website will know, HMS Brocklesby and HMS Bangor (commanded by MCDOA member Neil Marriott) were both involved in clearance operations off Misurata.


7 Dec 11 - HMS Ocean video 'goes viral'


HMS Ocean has little connection with minewarfare and diving except as a High Value Unit (HVU) but this video showing members of her Aviation Department miming to Mariah Carey's 'All I Want for Christmas is You' is proving very popular on YouTube and I think it is hilarious. 



HMS Ocean sailed for a seven-week exercise in April and ended up spending seven-and-a-half months (225 days) away from home having already spent 214 days away last year on BOST and AURIGA.  She returns to Plymouth on Friday.


While we're at it, give a thought to purchasing the CD of the Military Wives Choir singing 'Wherever You Are' available for only £1.99 via this website and support the Royal British Legion (RBL) and the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA) in the process:


6 Dec 11 - HMS Vernon 'dramatised' at Gunwharf Quays


According to the description on its website here, Winchester-based 'Wet Picnic' is "...a mischievous theatre company who create work in a number of different spaces and places".  It is currently engaged in the six-month long Depth Charge Project which has been commissioned by Gunwharf Quays and the Arts Council.  This aims to re-create aspects of HMS Vernon which previously stood on the site of Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth and I have provided historical material for incorporation in the displays and exhibitions.


On the evening of Sunday 4 December, the Wet Picnic Theatre Group performed an audience-participation ‘mystery tour’ around Gunwharf Quays.  The final act was a ‘still life’ scene where an actor dressed as the legendary Cdr Lionel 'Buster' Crabb OBE, GM, RNVR stood on a platform in front of two illuminated spheres surrounded by a ring of flaming torches.  The actor was wearing appropriate 1940s diving equipment provided by the Historical Diving Society's museum at Stokes Bay. 


MCDOA member and former Royal Naval Physiological Laboratory (RNPL) research diver Dr John Bevan, Chairman of the Historical Diving Society, has kindly supplied these stunning photos of the finale:



Wet Picnic's theatrical performance at Gunwharf Quays last Sunday


I understand that a Log-Room containing HMS Vernon memorabilia can be viewed just inside the main gate of Gunwharf Quays and the Depth Charge Project will culminate in another spectacular interactive show on Sunday 15 April 2012 described as:


"An explosive performance pulling together the October and December research periods, with story telling, an installation, and larger promenade performance on and in the water with large audience numbers."


A date for the diary, I think.


4 Dec 11 - News from HMS Cattistock


HMS Cattistock

(RN website photo)


I have received this update from Lt Cdr Steve Higham RN, Commanding Officer of HMS Cattistock (MCM2 Crew 2), in my capacity as the 'MCMV News' columnist for the Ton Class Association's bi-monthly newsletter 'Ton Talk':


"I thought you would be interested to know that HMS Cattistock has just completed her predeployment and Operational Sea Training (OST) to a 'Very Satisfactory' standard.  This positive and encouraging assessment by the staff of Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST) reflected a huge amount of hard work and commitment by MCM2 Crew 2, and puts my team in a strong position to deploy in January 2012.


The five week OST package tested HMS Cattistock's Ship's Company across all facets of operations from humanitarian relief and salvage through to high intensity warfighting and complex MCM.  Throughout, the Ship maintained a calm business-like manner and commitment to teamwork that was noted by embarked assessing staff.  Having been fully tested, a Final Inspection (FI) allowed all the training and development to be put into action and I'm proud to report that my team performed exceptionally. 


As I write, we are at sea on our way back to Portsmouth where HMS Cattistock will be handed over to BAE Systems who will carry out work to prepare her for the next Crew to join in February 2012.  As we prepare to deploy to the Middle East and take over HMS Middleton, this letter marks an end of my custodianship of our much valued affiliation with you [the TCA].  I know I speak on behalf of my Ship's Company when I say we have appreciated your support and I am confident that Lt Cdr Andy Ingham and MCM2 Crew 8 will continue to foster and develop this prized affiliation.


Yours sincerely,


Steve Higham" 


3 Dec 11 - British Military Tournament 2011



I spent yesterday in London representing Project Vernon with some wonderful fellow exhibitors at the British Military Tournament at Earls Court.  Apart from me, our team comprised fellow MCDOA member Martyn Holloway, former WO(MW) Dixie Dean MBE and former WO(D) John Dadd BEM.  We distributed scores of leaflets and drew people's attention to the Project Vernon website which enables them to purchase merchandise and donate to the cause online.  Unlike last year's Army-dominated show, this was a proper tri-service event which was reflected in the wider range of exhibitors, displays and spectators.


Typhoon Eurofighter and armoured fighting vehicles

on the forecourt of Earls Court


We arrived early to secure our premium parking space around the back of the exhibition hall and then unloaded the display items from Dixie's car and set up our stall in our allocated space.  This was a prime position at the bottom of the stairs leading to the balcony lounge bar. 



Left: John Dadd, Dixie Dean and Martyn Holloway

Right: The Project Vernon stall ready for business


Soon afterwards, members of the Fleet Diving Squadron arrived and set up their stall adjacent to ours.  Their team comprised CPO(D) Ruby Murray, LS(D) Rickie Throup, LS(D) Ross Binns, LS(D) Craig Tower and AB(D) Mark Humberstone. 


Above and below: 

Fleet Diving Squadron display alongside Project Vernon display



The RN clearance divers brought with them a range of land ordnance, a Vallon mine detector, a lightweight tracked remote operated vehicle (ROV) used for Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD), a REMUS 100 Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV), a Shark Navigator underwater detection and navigation system and a Clearance Diver Life Support Equipment (CDLSE) rig.


EOD ROV picking up a Sapper's mobile phone


A fellow exhibitor takes an interest in CDLSE 



Above and below: Close-up views of CDLSE




Shark Navigator system used by a diver to relocate seabed objects detected by REMUS

during VSW (Very Shallow Water) operations


Last year, the Fleet Diving Squadron provided the tank for diving displays.  This year, a tank was supplied by the Royal Engineers and they set up their stand across the aisle from ours.  Their team from 22 Engineer Regt comprised Lt Mike Dudley RE, SSgt Gareth Richardson, SSgt Leigh Davies and Cpl Steven Lord.



The Royal Engineers diving tank and display


One of the more unusual sights was a dry suit made in Multi-Terrain Pattern (MTP) camouflage material. 


MTP dry suit


The display area still looking a bit empty


Finally, members of the Historical Diving Society's Working Equipment Group set up shop next to the Sappers.  Their team comprised Chairman Dr John Bevan, Peter & Cheryl Wingett, Gary Wallace-Potter, Adrian Barak, Mike Burchett and Chris Martin.  They had brought with them two RN Admiralty Pattern helmets, a US Navy Mk V helmet and a post-war German naval helmet.


The combined RE Divers and HDS display



Left: Peter Wingett and Gary Wallace-Potter of the HDS pose behind their stall

Right: The combined RE Divers and HDS display



Left: Another view of the RE Divers display

Right: Dixie Dean sells a Project Vernon print of 'Danger at Depth' to one of the RN divers


Our setting up was punctuated by loud bangs from the arena behind us as the dress rehearsal for the evening's performance proceeded.  I captured this scene among others from a spectacular display by American Civil War re-enactors:


American Civil War re-enactors doing their noisy thing

in the arena during the dress rehearsal


The doors were opened to the publc at 1600 whereupon a steadily increasing trickle of spectators started arriving for the 1900 performance, also watched by Her Majesty the Queen.  They were treated to the sight of RN, Army and HDS divers performing underwater in a variety of diving equipment ranging from the antique to the modern.


Above and below: RN, Army and HDS divers performing in the tank 




The Project Vernon stand will be manned until the tournament finishes on Sunday evening.  Dixie Dean, MCDOA member David Sandiford and ex-CDs Stew 'George' Sissons and Dennis Brady are on duty today (Saturday).  Dixie Dean, John Dadd and MCDOA members David Sandiford and Keith Broughton will be on duty on Sunday.


Postscript: According to Dixie Dean, the Project Vernon stand took over £500 in sales and donations at this event.


2 Dec 11 - HMS Shoreham sails into Liverpool for weekend visit


The RN website contains this article describing a visit by HMS Shoreham (MCM1 Crew 4) to Liverpool this weekend.


HMS Shoreham

(RN website photo)


1 Dec 11 - New book about the TON Class MCMVs


Your attention is drawn to this page on the Halsgrove Publishing website via which copies of 'Last of the Wooden Walls - An Illustrated History of the TON Class Minesweepers and Minehunters' (cover price £24.99) may be ordered in advance for only £19.99.



As reported in the entry for 6 Nov 11, this 160-page A4-sized hardback tome, edited by your humble Vice Chairman & Webmaster and containing a foreword by the Ton Class Association's Patron, HRH The Prince of Wales, will be launched at the Royal Naval Museum in Portsmouth Naval Base on 9 March 2012 to mark the TCA's 25th Anniversary.



'Jacks of All Trades - Operational Records of Ton Class Mine Countermeasures Ships', a companion volume, is being published privately by the Ton Class Association TCA and will also be available in March.  This lists the operational history of each TON that served in the Royal Navy with a photograph of each ship plus a summary of the 37 TONs that were transferred to other navies.  Lack of space precluded its incorporation in 'Wooden Walls'.  It will be distributed by the TCA at a discounted price of £9.49 (inc p&p) and may be ordered from: TCA Stores Officer, Lawrence Johnson, 4 Downham Close, Cowplain, Hampshire PO8 8UD.  Cheques should be made payable to 'Ton Class Association'. 


Please note that all royalties from the sales of both books will be going to the TCA, not to any individuals.


30 Nov 11 - Mine disposal at a record depth


The Portsmouth News website contains this article describing the disposal of a wartime British Mk IV buoyant mine at a record-breaking depth of 3,667ft.  The article features MCDOA member Dave Welch, the managing director of Ramora UK which undertook the task.


29 Nov 11


From Sun to Snow – MCM1 Crew 7 returns home


The RN website contains this article describing the return of MCM1 Crew 7 from the Gulf where it deployed in HMS Ramsey last May.  The article features MCDOA member Alex Bush, Ramsey's Commanding Officer.


HMS Ramsey

(RN website photo)


Welcome back everyone and enjoy your well-deserved leave.


HMS Shoreham enjoys her second visit of the year to her namesake town


The RN website contains this article and the Navy News website contains this article describing how the ship's company of HMS Shoreham (MCM1 Crew 4) exercised its right to march through the town over the weekend.


HMS Shoreham's ship's company marching through Shoreham

(Navy News photo by LA(Phot) Darby Allen, FRPU East)


A video report of the event is available here on the Meridian ITV website.

28 Nov 11 - Special opening of Historical Diving Society's Museum on Friday 9 March 2012



HDS Diving Museum


Ex-CDs John Dadd and Jim 'Tommo' Thomson have asked me to publish this announcement:




In anticipation of hundreds of old divers wandering around with not a lot to do except think of an excuse not to go shopping, could you put this out to your many readers?


Jim Thompson and John Dadd will be opening Gosport's Premier Tourist Attraction, 'The Diving Museum', on the afternoon of the Divers 60th Anniversary Dinner, between 1200 and 1500, for an exclusive tour of the exhibits for divers and families attending the evening festivities.   


We are situated at the west end of Stokes Bay in the old No. 2 Battery.  If you come via Gosport Ferry, there is a half-hourly No. 88 bus service from the ferry to No. 2 Battery (13 min ride) leaving at 10 and 40 past the hour, that stops directly outside the museum.  


Otherwise there is a pay and display car park (70p ph) and those with SatNav can find us at PO12 2QU.  


Entry is free but any donations will be gratefully received.  All are guaranteed a warm welcome and a surprisingly interesting walk down memory lane.  


Yours aye,


Jim and John"


Postscript: For the benefit of those travelling on Friday the 9th, the museum will also be open on Saturday the 10th.


27 Nov 11 - Your Vice Chairman & Webmaster at work



Just to prove that Yours Truly occasionally gets his hands dirty, these photos were taken earlier today:


Hoole flanked by ex-CDs Jim 'Tommo' Thomson and John Dadd

inside the Historical Diving Society's bunker in Gosport 



The WWII bunker in The Avenue, Gosport which is destined to contain the HDS library


Any more helping hands out there?


26 Nov 11 - An appeal for help 


Yesterday, I received this appeal for help during any of the next five days (Sunday to Thursday 1100-1700) from the irrepressible MCDOA member Dr John Bevan, Chairman of the Historical Diving Society (HDS).  It concerns the refurbishment of an underground bunker in Gosport for use as a secure, clean and dry library for historical diving archives and a repository for excess Diving Museum exhibits.


John says:


"The work is progressing well in the Bunker.  But it could go a bit faster with some more hands.


So far we have had Mike Dear, Jim Thomson, Ann and me turning everything white.  The main, large room is nearly finished and the second (middle) room is started.  I've also had another go at the external roof, filling in suspect cracks etc.  We have reduced water ingress to just two slow drips and I hope to stop them today as well.  We need another day of rain to find out.


All being well, we can have the next five consecutive days at the Bunker, 11am - 5pm.  At the moment, Ann and I are sharing duty key-person because of our various work commitments.  Even if you can just spare a couple of hours, it all helps.


We do need a plumber to commission the water supply, if you know one.






If you are able to help in any way, please contact John via this email address or call him on 07802 785050.  This map shows the location of the bunker and I will be there myself later today:


Locations of HDS Diving Museum and Library Bunker


John has also provided this round-up of the museum's first year:


"That was the year that was!  Congratulations and thank you for your successful and generous support for the Diving Museum throughout the year!  Saturday 12th brought in 72 visitors (wow!) and Sunday, 13th 50 visitors.  It was certainly worth staying open a couple more weekends following the TV, radio and newspaper publicity.  Not only were visitor numbers up, but the ‘quality’ of visitors also increased with divers of all ages and backgrounds making special visits from as far afield as Liverpool!


More interesting artifacts were donated as well as some amazing archive items.  The Museum website ‘hit-rate’ went through the roof!  I also note that the USA historical divers have been circulating the BBC website with our news footage.  The publicity power of the TV is quite awesome..


That is definitely it for 2011!  Meanwhile .... Jobs to do (programme to be provided in due course) include:


* Paint the Bunker inside.


* Move material stored in No.2 Battery to bunker (Barry Jackson has offered his furniture removal truck!).


* Move vulnerable exhibits from Museum to Bunker.


* Prepare ground outside for five diving bells to arrive.  This will just involve leveling and pebbling (no sleepers needed).  The arrival of the diving bells from the RN Submarine Museum and the Charlestown Museum will now probably be timed for early next year so we can take advantage of publicity via TV etc again.


I attach my pic of the Guides at our last public day (Sunday 13th) at the Museum.  We were also honoured by a special visit by the Mayor (Councillor Chris Carter) and Mayoress – at his own request - on our last day.  He said some very kind words and congratulated us on becoming such a major tourist attraction in Gosport.  Please send me copies of photos if you took any.


HDS Diving Museum volunteer guides for 2011 including ex-CDs

John Dadd (second left) and Jim 'Tommo' Thomson (third left)


On Sunday, 11th December, I’ll be interviewed about the Diving Museum on Radio Solent on “Nick Girdler and The Good Life” 0930-0945 hours.






Court & Social


Service dinners 

November 26 2011 12:01AM

Minewarfare & Clearance Diving Officers’ Association


Air Marshal Sir Stuart Peach, KCB, CBE, FRAeS, Chief of Joint Operations, was the principal guest at the annual dinner of the Minewarfare & Clearance Diving Officers’ Association held on November 18, 2011, in HMS Excellent.  Commander Chris Baldwin, Superintendent of Diving for the Royal Navy and Chairman of the Association, presided, and Lieutenant Commander Rob Hoole proposed the loyal toast.  


25 Nov 11- HMS Bangor home from Libya mission


The MoD website (and many others) contains this article describing this morning's return to Faslane of HMS Bangor from her five-month deployment including 120 days supporting NATO forces off Libya.  The article features MCDOA members Neil Marriot (Bangor's Commanding Officer) and Dave Bence (Commander First MCM Squadron).


Congratulations and welcome back everyone.  Enjoy your well-deserved leave.


MCDOA member Neil Marriott steps ashore

(MoD website photo)


24 Nov 11 - MCDOA Operational Updates, AGM and Dinner follow-up



The events of last Friday were certainly memorable for those MCDOA members and guests who participated.


The day started in the recently commissioned Reclaim Room at Fleet Diving Headquarters on Horsea Island with some highly informative (and often entertaining) operational updates, all provided by MCDOA members.  Capt Mark Durkin (Captain MFP) opened with a report on the current state of Royal Navy minewarfare & diving capability and the significant place it occupies in the order of battle.  He also provided an insight into future plans.  Lt Trevor Orton of the Defence Diving School then provided a summary of current training and throughput.  Cdr Don Crosbie (CO Fleet Diving Squadron) followed this with a description of the achievements of our clearance diving teams over the past year, focusing especially on EOD/IEDD training and operations in Afghanistan.  Some of the new VSW search and disposal equipment certainly looks exciting.  Cdr Chris Davies then gave a brief from the Navy Command Headquarters perspective including MCM force configuration, readiness and capabilities.  He paid special tribute to our MCMVs off Libya and those permanently deployed in the Gulf.  Cdr Mark Atkinson then gave a forecast of what to expect from the MCM and Diving system and equipment pipeline.  The overall impression given was that the Royal Navy's MCM and Diving capability has survived relatively unscathed as a result of SDSR, being described by the Commander-in-Chief Fleet as the 'Jewel in the Crown' during operations off Libya.


After the customary Friday lunch of fish and chips, members re-convened for the AGM.  Of particular note, Commodore Paddy McAlpine, newly installed as Commodore UK Task Group (COMUKTG), has kindly consented to take over from Capt Colin Welborn as our President and we gave three cheers to Colin for the inspirational support he has given the Association during his eight-year tenure.  Cdr David Edwards MBE has asked to stand down as a committee member and we thank him for the wise counsel and corporate knowledge he has provided since the Association's formation in 1991.  No one has yet offered to take David's place so it is currently gapped.  Any volunteers please contact Mick Beale, our Honorary Secretary.  With regard to the future social programme, it was decided not to hold a Ladies' Night in May owing to the dwindling support it has received.  However, next year's combined Association barbecue at Horsea Island will go ahead on Saturday 9 June which coincides with the Association of RN First Class Divers' reunion weekend.


The day's events culminated in the Annual Dinner in HMS Excellent's wardroom which was filled to capacity with a record-breaking attendance.  It was especially good to see so many serving and retired WO(MW)s and WO(D)s present as well as the USN, RCN and RNZN delegates (including former MCDOA Hon Sec David 'Topsy' Turner) to the ABCANZ meetings held earlier in the week.  Maître d'Hôtel Richard Croughan and Chef de Cuisine Mark Stockwell surpassed themselves and the staff were their usual cheerful and ever diligent selves.


After the Loyal Toast to the Queen as Head of Commonwealth Nations, a second toast was drunk to the President of the United States of America owing to the presence of our US Navy friends led by Cdr Mike Egan USN.  The after-dinner singing, led by Jon Cox and Keith Broughton, reached new heights with HMS Nelson's Volunteer Band, under the direction of Band Colour Sergeant Simon Nicholls, playing their hearts out and the mess staff joining in as usual. 


Our Chairman Chris Baldwin then gave a rousing speech which paid tribute to sadly departed members, our service leavers and the members of LMCDO Courses 86A & B celebrating their 25th anniversary.  He then introduced senior leaver Cdr Pete Greenwood who gave a cracking speech before Air Marshal (soon to be Air Chief Marshal) Sir Stuart Peach, our Guest of Honour, stood on the top table to heap praise on the RN minewarfare & diving community for its achievements.  Special thanks are due to MCDOA associate member Derek Clarke for standing the cost of the port.


Well done and congratulations to our Honorary Secretary Mick Beale and Honorary Treasurer Richard 'Soapy' Watson for organising such a succesful programme.  Here are some of the photos I took of the day's events, plus some supplied by Pete Greenwood and REDOC guest Steve Woodhead.  No names, no pack drill!




23 Nov 11 - November Navy News


The November issue of Navy News, containing several items of MCD interest, can be downloaded here.  


21 Nov 11 - HMS Shoreham to pay her second visit of the year to her affiliated port in Sussex


The RN website contains this article announcing a visit by HMS Shoreham to her affiliated town of Shoreham during the weekend of 25-28 November.


HMS Shoreham

(RN website photo)


19 Nov 11 - Last night's dinner


Top of the shop in this morning's Telegraph:



The original text submitted stated that I proposed the Loyal Toast but hey, ho.


The huge success of last night's dinner is thanks mostly to the organisational skills and efforts of Honorary Secretary Mick Beale and Honorary Treasurer Richard 'Soapy' Watson.  Normal website service will be resumed as soon as possible and I will be publishing photos of the day's events but I have a few more pressing commitments at the moment.


18 Nov 11 - Final List of MCDOA Annual Dinner attendees


The final list of attendees for tonight's Annual Dinner in HMS Excellent (see entry for 29 Sep 11 in News Archive 35 for full details) comprises:


Guest of Honour

Air Marshal Sir Stuart Peach KCB CBE FRAeS

(Chief of Joint Operations.  To be Commander Joint Forces and

promoted to Air Chief Marshal with effect from December 2011)

Service Leavers
Cdr Peter Greenwood
Cdr David Hunkin OBE
Cdr Bill Scarth (LMCDO '86A)
Cdr Jason Scott
Lt Cdr Rob Cornick
Lt Cdr Paul Guiver BEM
Lt Cdr Paul McDermott
Lt Cdr Andy 'Sharkey' Ward
Other Members and their Guests
(Host's name in brackets)
Chris Ameye
WO(D) Dan Archer (Nekrews)
Chris Baldwin
Simon Baldwin (Baldwin)
David Bartlett MBE
Mick Beale
Col Kevin Beaton RAMC (Hunkin)
John Beavis
Ashley Beecham (Guiver)
Dougie Bell
Dave Bence
Lt Robin Bennett RE
Angus Benton
Mr Dave Berry
Mr David 'Jim' Bond (Beale)
Col Mike Brooke OBE RE
Keith Broughton
Patrick Broughton (Broughton)
Steve Brown
Mr Andy Brunton MBE (Clarke)
Jon Chapple
Mr Derek Clarke
CPO1 Darrell Colwell RCN
Jon Cox (LMCDO '86A)
Mike Critchley
Don Crosbie
Cdr Leanne Crowe RCN

Tim Curd
Lt Mike Curd RN (Curd)
Matthew Cutting (Hunkin)
Bruce Darby (Lusty)
Chris Davies (TBC)
Pete Davis
Jason Dawson
Mr Robert 'Dixie' Dean MBE (Welborn)
Cdr Chris Deere RCN (Kerr)
Cdr Paul Dougherty USN (Gwatkin)
Mark Durkin
Simon Durkin (Durkin)
Brian Dutton DSO QGM
Simon Edwards (Broughton)
Cdr Mike Egan USN
Andrew Fish (Guiver)
WO(D) Steve Fitzjohn (Watson)
Capt J J Forbes RE
Cdr Keith Furlong (Hawkins)
Kev Giles
Simon Gilligan (O'Connell)
Ben Godfrey (Godfrey)
Harry Godfrey (Godfrey)
Kim Godfrey
Geoff Goodwin
Frank Guiver (Guiver)
Gareth Guiver (Guiver)
Nick Gwatkin
Justin Hains
Mr Alan Hares
Bob Hawkins MBE
Ian Haworth (Hawkins)
John Herriman
Peter Hicks
Richard Hill
Martyn Holloway
Rob Hoole
Maj David Hough RE
Paul Jones
Simon Kelly
Bill Kerr (LMCDO '86A)
Lt Cdr Bob Klein RCN
Mr Tony Knight
Cdr Andy Lamb (MCM1(desig))
CPO1 Chris Landry RCN
Lt Cdr Trevor Leslie RNZN
Graham Lester (Hill)
Bob Lusty
Dean Lyle (Gwatkin)
Martin Mackey
Mr Ted Mangion (McDermott)
Brian Mansbridge MBE
Simon Marriot (Nekrews)
Lt David Marshall (Marshall)
James Marshall (Marshall) (TBC)
Steve Marshall DSC
Mike Marshall
Paddy McAlpine OBE
Capt Bradley McKinney USN
Del McKnight
Ian Morton
Adam Neil (Neil)
Simon Neil
Mr Steve 'Peggy' Neil (Watson)
Al Nekrews
Mr Newnham (Morton)
David O'Connell MBE
Chris O'Flaherty
OPS (Piper)
Sean O'Reilly
Jamie O'Reilly (O'Reilly)
Mr Daniel O'Sullivan (Jones)
Lt Cdr Jan Ouvry (Welborn)
Alan Parker (Guiver)
Gary Pascoe (Nekrews)
Andrew Pearce (Watson)
Lt Cdr Jim Penman RCN (LMCDO '86A)
Ben Piper
Jason Poole (LMCDO '86B)
David Porch (Hunkin)
Simon Pressdee
Richard Purcell (Marshall)
Ian Richardson
Keith Riches
WO(D) Robin 'Rick' Rickard (Nekrews)(TBC)
WO(D) Karl Roberts (Stockton)
Peter Robinson
Stuart Robinson
David Sandiford (TBC)
Mark Savage
Jamie Scott (Scott)
Robert Shelley (Hunkin)
Mr Jez Simpson (Wilson)
Mr Tim Sizer (Wilson)
Simon Smith (Giles)
Ben Stait
Kev Stockton
Richard Talbot
Cdr David 'Topsy' Turner RNZN
WO(D) Steve Vernon (Guiver)(TBC)
Ben Vickery
Peter Waddington
Richard 'Soapy' Watson
Colin Welborn
Steven White
Graham 'Tug' Wilson MBE
Steven Woodhead (Forbes)
Kevin Wright (O'Connell) (Why is Kevin a guest instead of an MCDOA member?)
Lt Cdr Matt Wring (Mackey)


N.B. Those attendees and hosts annotated "TBC" are urged to pay their outstanding 'dinner money' to Mick Beale, our Honorary Secretary, forthwith.  They will be charged for themselves and their guests whether they turn up or not.


17 Nov 11


HMS Bangor homeward bound after completing Libyan mission


The Navy News website contains this article announcing the imminent return of HMS Bangor after completing 120 days on patrol in the Mediterranean on Operation Ellamy, the UK's now-completed combat operations off Libya.  The article features MCDOA member Neil Marriott (Bangor's Commanding Officer) and PO(MW) Steve 'Stirling' Moss (Bangor's Ops Room Supervisor).


Bangor's divers prepare to enter the water off Tobruk

(Navy News photo by PO(Phot) Paul Punter, FRPU East) 


HMS Brocklesby and HMS Grimsby survey River Mersey


The BBC website contains this article which includes a video describing a survey of the River Mersey currently being conducted by the Portsmouth-based Hunt class minehunter HMS Brocklesby and the Faslane-based Sandown class minehunter HMS Grimsby.



Above and below: HMS Brocklesby's Ops Room



16 Nov 11


MWs and Divers exhibit at British Military Tournament again


As last year (see entry for 6 Dec 10 in News Archive 32), members of the Fleet Diving Squadron, the Historical Diving Society and Project Vernon (the campaign to erect a monument at Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth to commemorate the Minewarfare and Diving Heritage of HMS Vernon) will be putting on a combined display in the exhibition hall surrounding the arena at Earls Court during the British Military Tournament over the weekend of 2 to 4 December.


Unlike last year, which was totally Army-focused apart from our group, this year's tournament will be tri-service.  The Project Vernon team will comprise MCDOA members David Sandiford, Martyn Holloway, Keith Broughton and me together with Minewarfare Association Chairman Dixie Dean MBE and ex-CD1s John Dadd, Stu 'George' Sissons and Dennis 'Taff' Brady.  We would dearly love to see as many of you there as possible. 


MWA Presentation to the Mine Warfare Operational Training Centre


In his role as Chairman of the Minewarfare Association (MWA), former WO(MW) Dixie Dean MBE recently presented a framed print of 'Vernon Creek' to the Mine Warfare Operational Training Centre (MWOTC) at HMS Collingwood to reinforce the MWA's objective of supporting the RN Mine Warfare branch.  Project Vernon, of which Dixie is a trustee, commissioned artist John Terry FCSD to paint 'Vernon Creek' for fundraising purposes. 


Dixie with MWOTC and MWA members at HMS Collingwood

including MCDOA member Bill Kerr (OIC MWOTC)


Dixie presented the limited edition print, appropriately numbered 193, to Commander Iain Cull, Commander Sea Training FOST(MPV) in the presence of MWOTC staff and some MWA members.  It will hang in the corridor adjacent to the MWOTC Staff Offices in Marlborough Building.


Dixie presents Print No. 193 of 'Vernon Creek' to Cdr Cull


HMS Middleton’s Marine Engineers swim the English Channel


The RN website contains this article describing the swimming of 1,600 lengths at the British Club in Bahrain by the Marine Engineering department of HMS Middleton (MCM2 Crew 8) to raise funds for Cancer Research UK.


HMS Middleton

(RN website photo)


15 Nov 11


Paddy McAlpine becomes COMUKTG


Cdre Paddy McAlpine OBE presenting AB(D) David Pearce

with his diver qualification certificate earlier this year


Congratulations to MCDOA member Paddy McAlpine who relieved Cdre John Kingwell as Commander UK Task Group (COMUKTG) today as mentioned in this article on the Navy News website.


New world record for underwater broadcasting


MCDOA member Dr John Bevan has passed me this news and accompanying photos:


"I was interviewed underwater at Andark in Swanwick today as part of a Guinness world record attempt during which I managed to get a plug in for the Diving Museum!








Postscript: The previous world record stood at four hours and Wave 105 presenter Simon Clarke smashed it by broadcasting for five hours and six minutes.  More on the Wave 105 website here and on YouTube here.


14 Nov 11 - Royal Navy Clearance Diving Branch Diamond Jubilee Dinner



The RN Clearance Diving Branch was formally established by Admiralty Fleet Order (AFO) 857/52 on 7 March 1952 so its Diamond Jubilee is due next year.  It is understood that an event to mark the occasion is being organised in Scotland but ex-WO(D) Bob Oulds has booked the Royal Maritime Club (formerly the Home Club) in Portsmouth for any members of the Branch and their partners who wish to attend a celebratory black tie dinner on Friday 9 March 2012.  The cost will be £40 per head and the calling notice and booking form are available for download here.


13 Nov 11 - Lest we forget


They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning,

We will remember them.

  Robert Laurence Binyon



11 Nov 11 - RN Minewarfare Heritage: HMS Plover


The late MCDOA member Tag Caisley MBE's widowed wife Enid (see entry for 2 Sep 11) has kindly given me a framed painting of the coastal minelayer HMS Plover which Tag commanded in the mid-1960s.  I am hoping to find a good home for the painting, perhaps in the Minewarfare Operational Training Centre at HMS Collingwood.  Does anyone have any other suggestions? 


Painting of the coastal minelayer HMS Plover

by Sydney Cooke


Built in 1937, HMS Plover served during the Second World War but she was attached to HMS Vernon for minelaying trials before being sold in 1969 and broken up at Inverkeithing.  She was also commanded by such legendary figures in the RN Minewarfare & Diving community as Cdr Gavin 'Whisky' Wemyss OBE and Lt Cdr Stuart 'Jazz' Honour MBE.


The coastal minelayer HMS Plover


10 Nov 11


HMS Grimsby's Ship's Company scale Ben Arthur


The Royal Navy website contains this article describing the recent ascent of Ben Arthur by 12 members of HMS Grimsby's ship's company (MCM1 Crew 5).


Members of MCM1 Crew 5 on Ben Arthur 26 Oct 2011

(RN website photo)


9 Nov 11 - Simon Pressdee on Telegraph video


MCDOA member Martin Mackey has drawn my attention to this video on the Daily Telegraph website.  It covers Monday's homecoming of HMS Liverpool after her seven-and-a-half month deployment (see entry for 7 Nov 2011) and contains interviews with two individuals: the Secretary of State for Defence and MCDOA member Simon Pressdee!


Simon Pressdee being interviewed

("Mummy, who's this strange man with a funny hat?")


8 Nov 11


MCDOA members selected for Advanced Command and Staff Course


MCDOA member Phil Ireland (the Base Executive Officer at HMNB Clyde) informs me that MCDOA members Pete Laughton (XO HMS Montrose and selected for Commander on the last promotion signal) and Ian Hopper (2I/C of the Warfare Training Group at the Maritime Warfare School (MWS) in HMS Collingwood) were selected for the Advanced Command and Staff Course on last week’s signal.


Congratulations to both members.


Last chance to visit Diving Museum before next Spring



The Historical Diving Society's diving museum at Stokes Bay will be open 1100 - 1700 next weekend (12 & 13 Nov) after which it will close to the public for the winter.  MCDOA member Dr John Bevan, Chairman of the Society, has furnished the following information about the museum's first season.


The HDS diving museum was recently honoured by the arrival of its 5,000th visitor:


5,000th visitor to the HDS Diving Museum


During the museum's 72 days open to the public (weekends, bank holidays and a few specials), the cumulative total of visitors has reached 5,132 averaging 71 visitors per day.


The museum has received group visits from: 

  • Medical Examiners of Divers - 10 May

  • French twinned town Royan delegation - 22 May

  • Special Opening Ceremony - 18 June

  • Bay House School students ­ 11 July

  • NATO Diving Publications Working Group - 27 September

  • DIVEX - 4 October

  • Mary Rose Patrons - 14 October

  • British Hyperbaric Association - 20 October

  • Gosport Scouts 7th Troop - 4 November

  • Nautical Archaeological Society - 6 November

Visiting diving clubs have included:

  • Eastney Cruising Association, Sub Aqua Group

  • Guildford BSAC

  • Harlow SAC

  • Harrow SAC

  • Selsey BSAC

  • Southsea BSAC

Museum volunteers have also participated in:

  • Celebrate Gosport - Big Day Out - 12 June

  • Gosport Heritage Open Days - 8 to 11 September

The museum has also taken delivery of two ex-RNPL DCCs as well as a one-man transfer chamber.  The two chambers are to be professionally painted as soon as possible. Five diving bells (how appropriate!) are yet to come.



Left: Ex-Royal Naval Physiological Laboratory deck compression chambers

Right: Dräger portable one-man compression chamber


The LAST weekend of the year is coming up although there will be a special visit from an ex-Royal Navy group calling themselves the 'Grumpy Old Engineers' 1100 to 1200 on Tuesday 22 November.  This will be covered by John Dadd, Martin Marks and possibly Jim Thomson who will be able to speak the language.


7 Nov 11 - Welcome home HMS Liverpool


Usually, I only welcome MCMVs home to Portsmouth but HMS Liverpool is rather special.  Apart from her seven-and-a-half month deployment off Libya where she returned fire several times, her PWO(U) is MCDOA member Simon Pressdee (see entry for 24 Sep 11) and, as explained in this article on the MoD website, she also protected the minehunters HMS Bangor and HMS Brocklesby while they were clearing mines from the approaches to Misurata.  This is why I joined several dozen people on the Round Tower this morning.


While waiting for HMS Liverpool to approach, I noticed HMS Brocklesby manoeuvring up harbour.  I had stood in the same position to welcome her back to Portsmouth from Libya in July (see entry for 4 Jul 11 in News Archive 35).  She was in the vicinty of South Railway Jetty and I took this photo of her across the rooftops:


HMS Brocklesby manoeuvring up harbour 


Then HMS Liverpool hove into view and there was an enormous cheer from onlookers:




Above and below: HMS Liverpool enters harbour



Welcome back everyone (especially Simon) and enjoy your well-deserved leave.


6 Nov 11 - Forthcoming book about Ton Class MCMVs



A couple of years ago, the Ton Class Association (TCA) commissioned me to edit a book about the Ton Class MCMVs (Mine Counter-Measures Vessels) to mark its 25th anniversary next year.  I am pleased to announce that the final draft is currently with the publisher and I am awaiting the proofs for scrutiny.  The Editorial Panel comprised Cdr Peter Harrison as Project Manager, me as Editor, TCA Honorary Secretary Peter Down as Facilitator and TCA Historical Group Advisor Bob Dean as Picture Editor.  However, all royalties will go to the TCA. 


The 160 page A4 hardback book will be titled 'Last of the Wooden Walls - An Illustrated History of the Ton Class Minesweepers and Minehunters'.  It will be launched at the Royal Naval Museum in Portsmouth Naval Base on 9 March 2012 where attendance will be by invitation.  The cover price is £24.99 but it will be available to TCA members for £19.99 using an order form printed on the flyer shown below which will be distributed with the next issue of 'Ton Talk'.


Front page of 'Last of the

Wooden Walls' flyer 


If you were at all associated with this well-loved post-war class of over a hundred vessels that served in several navies all over the world, then I can recommend joining the TCA.  Membership is only £10 per year for which you receive an excellent colour magazine called 'Ton Talk' every two months (copies are also sent to our operational MCMVs) and you will have the opportunity to attend the lively regional and annual weekend reunions which alternate between the south and north of England.  A membership application form can be found here on the TCA website.


The TCA will also be publishing a companion softback volume titled 'Jacks of All Trades' which will be sold separately.  Edited by TCA Honorary Secretary Peter Down, this will contain a photo and brief history of each Ton Class vessel ever built.  Unfortunately, restrictions on space precluded its incorporation in the main volume.


5 Nov 11 - Whatever happened to Rob Cornick?


MCDOA member Rob Cornick informs me that he has been lucky enough to land a job in San Diego supporting the US Navy EOD and UUV teams since leaving the Royal Navy in January this year.  He even has his own webpage:


Rob Cornick, Senior Programme Manager


Rob didn't expect to be in the UK for this year's dinner but intends asking Mick Beale whether he can find a seat for him as one of this year's batch of leavers.  Good luck, Rob.  I hope to see you there on the night.  Er, you don't happen to play an instrument, do you?


4 Nov 11 - DSSCCD Query


MCDOA member Gavin Anthony, former MoD scientist at RNPL Alverstoke and now performing the same role at QinetiQ, has sent this query:




Do you know, or could you request from MCDOA members when this version of DSSCCD was produced without the single oxygen cylinder pouch?



Diving Set, Self-Contained, Clearance Diver (DSSCCD)






As far as I recall, the Royal Navy's DSSCCD always had a single pouch above the twin pouch on the front of the set just like the almost identical old-style CDBA (Clearance Diver Breathing Apparatus) it replaced in the mid-1980s.  This was to house a single emergency bottle of O2 when using the twin bottles for swimming O2 on 1.5 lpm flow using the reducer or on demand without the reducer.  That said, I vaguely remember being told that a batch had mistakenly been produced without the single pouch.


The single pouch was also a vital place for keeping your scally bag, of course.


If anyone can provide a date or shed any other light, please advise me via my webmaster email address.


From ex-CD Don McPherson:


"Hi Rob,


Mid 80s would be correct, I seem to remember. 


The twin O2 was utilised as the emergency bottles and we started using the larger twin cylinders, normally used for nitrox mix, for the main O2 supply.  This configuration took away the concept of the set being light and easy to move about in!   We obviously continued to use the larger twins when required to venture deeper than the 10msw mark but it meant having to drain them down, flush them out and pump them back up again with the booster pump.


If memory serves well enough the set came with a number of issues that were unfortunate to say the least.  When first introduced, the dump valve and pepper pot valve had a tendency to pop out owing to them not being fully secured by the manufacturer.  The gas hoses, from the regulator and emergency twin cylinder, connected into the counterlung by means of a bayonet type fitting which had a tendency of coming adrift when the wearer was bending over in the water... which often resulted in a "cocktail".


There were occasional issues with the double buckle assembly on the left shoulder in that during test dives it too happened to come adrift.  I also know from personal experience that there was an issue regarding the thickness of the counterlung rubber as, during testing, the set a large rip appeared along the base of the counterlung which wasn't a nice experience.  Apart from these minor issues it was a comfortable set to swim in but in my opinion it wasn't as good or as durable as the CDBA.


Hope this helps and it would be good to hear comments from anyone else who dived it.






2 Nov 11 - RN Diving Heritage: RNPL chambers given new home



The BBC website contains this article including a video describing today's move of two Deck Compression Chambers (100m built 1943 and 690m built 1965) from their temporary location at Horsea Island to their new home and you may recognise the individual wearing the flat cap towards the end.  This follows up a previous article on the BBC website here.


Both RNPL chambers at Horsea


The chambers were used by the Deep Trials Unit (DTU) to achieve world record-breaking experimental dives at the Royal Naval Physiological Laboratory (RNPL) in Alverstoke.  In March 1970, MCDOA member and founding Chairman of the Historical Diving Society Dr John Bevan and Peter Sharphouse (both members of the RN Scientific Service at RNPL) established a new deep diving record at the Deep Trials Unit (DTU) by spending 10 hours at a simulated depth of 1,500 feet of seawater (457 metres of seawater).  This dive was 300 feet beyond the predicted maximum of around 1,200 fsw (366 msw) and was described by American colleagues as “a hyperbaric moon landing”.


The 100m chamber when in operation at the Deep Trials Unit


The 690m chamber when in operation at the Deep Trials Unit


This morning, the chambers were delivered to No.2 Battery, home of the Historical Diving Society's new diving museum at Stokes Bay.  Before they could be lifted into place on prepared plinths outside the museum, HDS volunteers had to remove some sections of the railings.  Even so, an overhead telephone line caused some complications involving much to-ing and fro-ing by the mobile crane and the accompanying lorry carrying the chambers.  


The two chambers at their new home outside the Diving Museum


A Dräger portable one-man decompression chamber was also delivered for display inside the museum.  From left to right, the photo below shows John Dadd, John Towse, Margaret Marks, Kevin Casey, John Bevan, John Millerchip, Jim 'Tommo' Thomson and Martin Marks.


HDS Diving Museum volunteers pose with the Dräger

portable one-man chamber inside the museum


Apart from MCDOA members Dr John Bevan and me, other HDS volunteers included former RN clearance divers John Dadd and Jim 'Tommo' Thomson.  The media were represented by Roger Finn of BBC South TV, Laura Ancell of BBC Radio Solent and Portsmouth News photographer Paul Jacobs.


I have published a fuller set of photos showing the evolution on the Flickr website here.


Postscript:  The Portsmouth News published this article on 3 November.


1 Nov 11 - MCDOA Annual Dinner fully subscribed


I have just been informed by Mick Beale, our Honorary Secretary, that all places for this year's dinner at HMS Excellent on 18 November have been filled (see entry for 29 Sep 11).  Subsequent applicants will be put on a reserve list and informed if a place becomes available.


I will publish a list of successful applicants and guests as soon as I receive it from Mick.


30 Oct 11 - Historical Diving Society update 


I have just returned from three days at this year's highly successful Historical Diving Society (HDS) Conference, AGM and Dinner at the RNLI College in Poole where I gave a well-received presentation on the History of Diving in the Royal Navy.  I thoroughly recommend this venue to anyone for its splendid location, modern accommodation, superb food, comprehensive facilities, excellent service and friendly staff.  I am usually the person behind the camera but on this occasion, I have to thank HDS webmaster and photographer Lawrence Micallef for the photos.


Hoole being introduced by HDS Vice Chairman Reg Vallentine


Hoole at the HDS Conference podium


This was a truly international affair including delegates from the USA, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Poland and I was honoured to be asked to respond on behalf of the guests at the formal dinner on Saturday night.  At the AGM on Sunday morning, Vice Admiral Sir Richard Ibbotson KCB, CB, DSC graciously accepted the Presidency of the HDS in succession to the late-lamented Surg Vice Admiral Sir John Rawlins KBE, FRCP, FRAeS.  More photos of these events can be found here and here.



Left: Hoole is caught at the bar

Right: Newly installed HDS President Vice Admiral Sir Richard Ibbotson


Hoole with fellow presenter Capt Jim Vorosmarti USN at HDS Dinner


Except for specially arranged groups, the HDS Diving Museum at Stokes Bay will only be open for two more weekends before closing for the winter season but it has received around 5,000 visitors since opening in June.  This is an impressive total given that the museum is staffed by volunteers and has only been accessible to the general public at weekends and bank holidays. 


A week ago, the museum was visited by members of the British Hyperbaric Association. This photo shows some of the crowd but others were elsewhere in the dungeons:


Members of the British Hyperbaric Association visit HDS Museum


Thanks to the generous support of Gosport Borough Council, the HDS has been given a six-month lease on a spacious ARP Bunker in The Avenue for the storage of the museum's reserve collection of exhibits and the establishment of a library.  It is hoped to obtain a long term lease in due course.


 Interior plan of ARP Bunker newly acquired by the HDS


A certain amount of cleaning up has been necessary and there is still much work to do.  If you feel able to help in any way, please contact MCDOA member John Bevan via this email address or call him on 07802 785050.  You don't have to be an HDS member to get involved.



Above and below: HDS Chairman Dr John Bevan and his

helpers (Jim 'Tommo' Thomson's grandchildren) get stuck in





External and internal views of the ARP Bunker newly acquired by the HDS


STOP PRESS: At approximately 0800 on Wednesday 3 November, the two DCCs (Deck Compression Chambers) used to achieve world record-breaking experimental dives at the Royal Naval Physiological Laboratory (RNPL) in Alverstoke will be moved from their temporary location at Horsea Island to a permanent home outside the museum as explained in this interview given by John Bevan to Radio Solent on Sunday.  I will be there with my camera to record the event and any help will be appreciated.


29 Oct 11 - Three Men in a Boat


Last weekend, the MCDOA's 'Not Quite the Last of the Summer Wine Trio' of Doug Barlow, Martyn Holloway and Rob Hoole mustered bright and early at HMS Excellent's marina on Whale Island to drive Barlow's yacht 'Dougout' around to the Sailing Centre where she was lifted out of the water for the winter.




As has become traditional, we were helped by Doug's partner Jill and Dean Molyneaux, a serving 'Greenie' Captain RN who always takes these occasions extremely seriously:


Dean Molyneaux - a Titanic figure


Marina Manager Brian Witts, retired Gunnery Officer and Curator of HMS Excellent's Museum, was also on hand with his booming repartee:



Left: Brian Witts at the end of his tether

Right: Dougout at the other end


Gradually, 'Dougout' was eased out of the water in her cradle and manoeuvred into her winter location under the watchful eyes of those in Leach Building.






Keep an eye on her please, chaps.


Postscript: A little more than two months after this event, Captain Dean Molyneaux was appointed an OBE in the 2012 New Year Honours.  Sometimes, the power of this website is awe-inspiring.


28 Oct 11 - Diver Down: Taff Zwart


I have received this sad news from ex-CD Jim 'Tommo' Thomson:


"Dear Rob,


I have just had a phone call from Martin Zwart, the son of 'Taff Zwart' who sadly died last week from pneumonia. 


Taff was in the Guzz team late 1960s and later the 'Reclaim'.  He worked with me as an LST on the DSV 'Stephaniturm'.


He was buried with his late wife at Ackllan Cemetary, Middlesborough yesterday 27th October.  


Sad tidings.






I am sure all members will join me in extending our condolences to Taff's family, friends and former colleagues.


27 Oct 11 - News from HMS Cattistock


HMS Cattistock

(RN website photo)


I have received this update from Lt Cdr Steve Higham RN, Commanding Officer of HMS Cattistock (MCM2 Crew 2), in my capacity as the 'MCMV News' columnist for the Ton Class Association's bi-monthly newsletter 'Ton Talk':


"I am writing to update you with news of HMS CATTISTOCK and what has been happening over the past months.  In August, I assumed Command of HMS CATTISTOCK from Lt Cdr Adam Northover.  He has now moved to join Flag Officer Sea Training where he will play a key role in training ships before they deploy.  I am delighted to join CATTISTOCK and Crew 2 and I am particularly pleased that our affiliation with your organisation is so solid.  This is my first appointment to a Minehunter having served as a Flag Lieutenant, Commanded an Offshore Patrol Vessel and served as a Principal Warfare Officer in a number of Ships. I have attached my CV to account for time in the Naval Service so far!


Since September, the ship has emerged from a leave period and begun working up ready for the next deployment.  We have taken part in exercises off the coast of Plymouth before sailing for HMNB CLYDE in Faslane, Scotland.  Whilst here, we have taken part in a large multinational exercise called Joint Warrior.  This has seen the Ship's Company tested in their Mine Hunting, Force Protection and Maritime Security Operation skills, working in the challenging and often rough waters of North West Scotland with colleagues from the Army, RAF and NATO Navies.


Now at the end of Joint Warrior, HMS CATTISTOCK has returned to Faslane to start her Operational Sea Training.  This is a period of five weeks where every aspect of the Ship is tested.  This will be a very challenging and also beneficial time the Ship's Company.  It will involve long hours honing the skills necessary to both fight and defend the Ship in a high threat environment.  We can expect to be worked hard by the Flag Officer Sea Training staff in all the aspects essential to a Royal Navy Warship.  These will include areas such as Navigation, Damage Control (fires and floods), Gunnery, Warfighting Logistics and Engineering and, finally, our main role; deep specialist Mine Hunting.  With this training we will be able to deploy safe in the knowledge that we are capable of facing any threat or, as both First Sea Lord and Commander in Chief Fleet demand, - 'Ready to Fight... and Win'.  After Operational Sea Training, HMS CATTISTOCK will return to Portsmouth where we will have the chance to take short pre-deployment leave with their families.  After Christmas, MCM 2 Crew 2 will leave HMS CATTISTOCK and deploy to the Middle East in HMS MIDDLETON.  This will be a very challenging eight month deployment that will test each and every member of the Ship's Company.  The threats the Ship faces are as real and as varied as any time in our recent history.  Yet, I am confident we will have a successful operational tour through which, I hope, we will remain in your thoughts.


Lt Cdr Andy Ingham wll assume Command of HMS CATTISTOCK in January.  He and his team will have just returned from an intensive operational period in the Gulf.  I am sure he will be in touch as soon as the dust settles to ensure our affiliation remains as strong as ever.


Yours sincerely,


Steve Higham"


26 Oct 11 - New UK Diving Service 'Unmatched Outside the Armed Forces'


I don't normally include commercials but I spotted this press release on the Defence Aerospace website which features MCDOA member Dave Welch.  His company employs a number of former Royal Navy clearance divers.


25 Oct 11 - HMS Walney takes her place in Naval History


The RN website contains this article describing the formal handover of the ship's bell belonging to the decommissioned minehunter HMS Walney to the Borough of Barrow.  The article features MCDOA member Dave Bence, Commander First MCM Squadron.



24 Oct 11 - October Navy News


The October issue of Navy News, containing several items of MCD interest, can be downloaded here.


23 Oct 11 - Ex-RE Diver in attempt to break underwater world record


Ex-CD1 Ray 'Spider' Webb has drawn my attention to an attempt by ex-Royal Engineer Mark Colman to break the world record for the longest submerged dive in a controlled environment.  This currently stands at four days, four hours.  More details are available on the Basildon Echo website here:


Mark’s great underwater world record adventure


In November 2000, Mark tried to save the life of ex-CD2 Gary 'Dusty' Miller during a commercial diving job at Canary Wharf.  An account of the inquest, which features MCDOA member Dr John Bevan as the specialist diving consultant, is available on the BBC website here:


Diver unlawfully killed 


Mark, a veteran of the first Gulf war, is raising funds for Veterans in Action which has helped him through some extremely difficult times as described here.  To sponsor him, see his charity webpage here:


Spider has asked that someone at Horsea Island brings this to the attention of the RE Divers at the Defence Diving School.


22 Oct 11 - Sinking of Iranian diving support vessel Koosha 1


Please spare a thought for the six Indian divers trapped while in sat on board the Diving Support Vessel (DSV) Koosha 1 which foundered off Iran in 63 metres on Thursday afternoon.  I gather that the DSV Dulam Providence is on the scene but recovery attempts have been hampered by rough weather.  More details on the Daily Telegraph website here.


Apparently, the divers were transferred to the HRC (Hyperbaric Rescue Craft) in readiness for a hyperbaric evacuation but it could not be released from the vessel before it sank.  This disaster comes on the back of two other recent major incidents involving saturation diving DSVs with divers in the systems.


Postscript:  The worst result.  Poor guys.  Condolences to family, friends and colleagues.


Six divers dead after sunken ship's chamber runs out of oxygen


"Gulf News 23 Oct 2011: Six Indian divers entombed in a sunken ship’s pressurised chamber had been confirmed dead after they apparently ran out of oxygen 15 miles off the Iranian port of Assaloyeh, Indian diplomats and rescuers told XPRESS...


An Iranian official in charge of the rescue operation was quoted by the IRNA news agency as saying that the bodies of the Indian divers have been recovered..."


21 Oct 11 - Diving pump in St Petersburg


I am grateful to MCDOA member Surg Cdre Jim Sykes RN, former Medical Director at the Institute of Naval Medicine (INM), for this contribution:




The attached photo was taken aboard the Russian naval vessel "Aurora" in St Petersburg (now a world heritage naval site and worth a visit).  Is it what I think it is - air pumps for a standard diver?  There were no other indications nearby to suggest a diving station.



The naval museum in St P also has a very good "tableau" of a standard diver and is also worth a visit for its other contents.


Best wishes,




P.S. Sorry I won't be able to attend the Dinner this year; Liz and I are doing the ARC and will be in Las Palmas preparing for the "off" on 20th Nov!!"


I have informed Jim that he is absolutely right about the object being a diving pump (with the lid closed) and have forwarded his email to MCDOA member Dr John Bevan, Chairman of the Historical Diving Society (HDS) for a more detailed assessment.


Postscript:  Peter Dick of the UK Historical Diving Society has forwarded me this message from Alexander Sledkov of the Russian Historical Diving Society:


"Dear Peter,


Yes, it is a diving pump because diving apparatus were in all naval vessels since the 1860s.  I do not know what pump it is, but I have sent the picture to my friend at the Naval Museum...


I will write to you in the near future because I have found some very interesting files in the Navy archive concerning the purchase of Siebe's diving equipment after Deane's.  Shortly after the purchase of Deane's apparatus at the end of the 1830s, Admiral Lazarev asked Benkgauzen, the Russian Consul-General in London, about ordering 1 or 2 complete sets with pump from Siebe for the Black Sea Fleet (I shall know about this in days).  Unfortunately there are no English documents except for two short notes from Siebe.  So, if you want more detailed information, let me know please.






20 Oct 11 - MCDOA Northern Dinner 2012


MCDOA member Kev Stockton has asked me to publish this announcement:


"This is an early reminder that the MCDOA Northern Dinner will be held in the Wardroom, HMS Neptune, on Friday 24 Feb, 2012. 


Once again it promises to be a great social evening allowing those residing, and serving in units, North of the Border to gather with past and present shipmates to spin a few dits and quaff a few ales.  However, this is not solely for those who enjoy living in wet and cold conditions, and any member of the association would be most welcome, and encouraged to attend.


This year we have the absolute pleasure in having our very own Cdr Phil Ireland DSC presiding over the event which is even more notable as he is now the Base Executive Officer and current president of the Wardroom Mess HMS Neptune.


It is hoped to keep the cost around £35 for the evening which will include all food and beverages.  Application forms have been produced and will be published in November but please accept this notice as an early heads up and annotate your diaries accordingly."


19 Oct 11 - Gentlemen Who Lunch


The MCDOA's 'Not Quite the Last of the Summer Wine' trio of Barlow, Holloway and Hoole took to the sea in Barlow's yacht 'Dougout' yesterday, probably for the last time this season.  We ended up at Hornet Sailing Club where we bumped into fellow MCDOA member Geoff Goodwin.  Geoff is the former OIC of the Joint Services Adventurous Sail Training Centre (JSASTC) based at Hornet but is now the Sailing Club's Vice Commodore. 


This photo was taken on completion of an extremely convivial lunch.


Goodwin (top), Holloway and Hoole (middle), Barlow (front)


18 Oct 11 - RNPS Annual Parade and Reunion


Nick Clark, the webmaster of the Royal Naval Patrol Service (RNPS) website Harry Tate's Navy, has drawn my attention to this article from the Lowestoft Journal describing the RNPS Annual Parade and Reunion held in Lowestoft earlier this month. 


The article features MCDOA member Mark Durkin, Captain Mine Warfare and Patrol Vessels, Diving and Fishery Protection (CMFP), who attended the Remembrance Service in the Sparrow's Nest Gardens.  This was the central depot of the RNPS, otherwise known as 'Harry Tate's Navy' and 'Churchill's Pirates', during the Second World War.  Initially called HMS Pembroke X, the depot became HMS Europa and served as the administrative HQ for 70,000 men and 6,000 ships engaged mainly in minesweeping duties around the world.


16 Oct 11 - MCDOA member faces deteriorating situation


The RNZN website contains this article featuring MCDOA member David 'Topsy' Turner commanding the Joint Task Force dealing with the RENA disaster off Tauranga in New Zealand (see entry for 13 Oct 11).




As this article on the Australian website describes, the situation is not only deteriorating but salvage operations have been hindered by the proximity of media vessels. 




15 Oct 11 - Day at Cleethorpes beach goes with a bang


The Grimsby Telegraph website contains this article describing the disposal of some mortar bombs on the beach at Cleethorpes in Lincolnshire yesterday.  The article features PO(D) Mike Smith of Southern Diving Unit 2 (SDU2)... and his mum.


PO(D) Mike Smith with his mum, Roz


14 Oct 11 - Divers return to Kent to blow up wartime mine


The Navy News website contains this article describing the disposal of a wartime German GX moored mine off Margate by members of Portsmouth-based Southern Diving Unit 2 (SDU2).  The article features MCDOA member Dan Herridge (OIC SDU2) and PO(D) Ken Smith.


German wartime mine snared by a fishing net off Margate

(Navy News photo)


13 Oct 11 - News from New Zealand


I am grateful for this update from MCDOA former Secretary David 'Topsy' Turner who transferred to the RNZN in 2004:


"Hi Rob,


Whilst there is a momentary operational pause I thought I'd reprioritise and make sure you know that a cheque is definitely in the post to bring myself into good standing regarding membership and to make sure you know that I'll be attending the MCDOA Dinner this year on the back of my visit to UK for the ABCANZ Diving and EOD Conference.  


I'm currently the Commander of the Joint Task Foce mobilised by the NZ Defence Force to assist in the salvage and oil spill tasks following the grounding of the vessel RENA off the east coast port of Tauranga.  With a total force of 327 personnel, 4 ships, 2 helicopters and a company of assorted soldiers and vehicles I feel quite grand!   Thank goodness the Chiefs of Staff know what they're doing.  Joking apart, it's a significant blow to the clean and green image that New Zealand presents to the rest of the world and there are a whole heap of angry people out there.  We're doing our very best to support this civilian-led operation so in reality we're just another contributing component of the much larger overall campaign.  


A couple of weeks ago I completed the Major Fleet Unit Commanding Officers Course and will be posted to HMNZS CANTERBURY sometime next year as Commanding Officer, which just goes to show that you can teach an old salty sea dog new tricks.  I had genuinly thought that my seatime had long since expired but it appears not - don't you just love New Zealand!


Anyway, I'll resist the temptation to drone on and on about how wonderful life is and wait to bore those of you who wish to explore your career horizons with me at the Conference or the Dinner.







CJTF 650.4



12 Oct 11 - Navy divers blow up massive wartime bomb haul  


The Navy News website contains this article describing a four-day operation on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent to dispose of more than 80 bombs from the First and Second World Wars (see entry for 5 Oct 11).  It features CPO(D) Ian 'Scouse' Fleming, LS(D) ‘Cags’ Lacey and AB(D)s ‘Billy’ Piper and ‘Sid’ Lawrence of Portsmouth-based Southern Diving Unit 2 (SDU2).


Postscript: I couldn't resist adding this bit of cheekiness from the Daily Mirror:


Does my bomb look big? Nudist beach contains 87 explosives



Post postscript: The story has even reached The Australian:


Naturists at nude beach at Leysdown in Kent in England discover there are 87 bombs in the sand


11 Oct 11 - News from 'The Cut'


I am grateful to MCDOA member Steve Gobey for this contribution:


"Hi Rob,


Unfortunately it's MRU for this year's dinner as Sally and I will be away 'sur le continent' visiting friends.  We have just returned from a very enjoyable trip in our camper to meet up with Dan and Chris Nicholson on the Llangollen Canal and join them onboard their narrowboat WAYMARK for the magical experience of crossing the amazing Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.


Me with Dan and Chris by WAYMARK at our R/V near Chirk


Dan 'flying' WAYMARK across Pontcysyllte


Sally and Chris closed up as Port and Starboard lookouts!


Very best wishes to you and all at the AGM and dinner.  Will try to make better plans next year!






10 Oct 11 - HMS Brocklesby Home Town Story


The Heart Kent website contains this article featuring AB(MW) Sean Clive who has returned from operations off Libya in HMS Brocklesby


9 Oct 11 - News from Australia


I am grateful for this update from MCDOA member Dave Ince who transferred to the RAN in 2002:


"G'day Rob,


Once again I must MRU the MCDOA Annual Dinner but send all my very best to my brothers in arms.  


Things continue to go well for the Inceys in Australia.  We are still living in Sydney, having bought a house in the Northern Beaches suburbs 18 months ago and got our foot in the door of a housing market that supposedly makes Sydney the second most expensive place in the world to live, after Vancouver apparently.  Thank God for diving pay is all I can say!  


Julie reached and sailed passed her five years clear marker for cancer earlier this year so that was definitely a cause for celebration.  Both the Ince lads have joined the Australian Defence Force.  Brent, our eldest, has joined the Air Force as a 'Rock Ape' equivalent and is now based in Brisbane.  Luke, our youngest, has joined the Navy on a military gap year programme.  The latter is basically a 'suck it and see' initiative that was designed to address some of the manpower shortages the ADF was experiencing a few years back.  Recruitment figures have now been reached for the foreseeable future for all three services.  He has just completed a deployment in a fellow Aussie MCD's patrol boat and loved every minute of it.


I'm fast approaching the end of my first year as a patrol boat commander and, to coin an Aussie phrase, it has been bloody ripper!   I am based out of Cairns on an eight weeks on, four weeks off routine, mostly conducting fishery and anti-illegal immigration patrols.  I have another year at sea to look forward to but on completion of this my contract in the RAN is technically up.  However, I have every intention of staying on if they will have me.  Opportunities still abound.


I hear the weather back in UK at the moment is on a par with what we experience here most of the time.  Enjoy it while you can!  Nice to see England beat Scotland in the rugby world cup competition though!


Yours aye,


Dave 'Spidy' Ince







7 Oct 11 - Hunts participate in Joint Warrior


The Navy News website contains this article describing the bi-annual Exercise JOINT WARRIOR (formerly JMC and NEPTUNE WARRIOR) off the coast of Scotland.  I was particularly struck by this familiar-looking scene:



HMS Bulwark accompanied by one of three Hunt-class minehunters

shelter from the inclement weather in Loch Ewe

(Navy News photos by LA(Phot) Martin Carney, HMS Bulwark)


6 Oct 11 - CINCFLEET Commendations for HMS Brocklesby officers


I am grateful to MCDOA member Phil Ireland for this contribution:




As an ex-CO of HMS BROCKLESBY (2001-03), I was delighted and proud to see the announcement on 30 September of the award of CINCFLEET Commendations to her XO (Lt Jace Hutchison RAN, an MCD Officer) and her Navigator (Lt Joel Roberts) in recognition of their efforts in spearheading MCM off Libya earlier this year.  Incidentally, both of these officers also received the rare accolade of special reports (“POS2” in old speak) for their exemplary performance on OST in December 2010 when I was CST(MPV).






P C Ireland DSC

Commander RN

Base Executive Officer

HMNB Clyde"


Congratulations to all in HMS Brocklesby, especially the two officers concerned.


P.S. Jace - Has Jodie persuaded you to join the MCDOA yet?  She promised me she would.


5 Oct 11 - Navy to sweep Sheppey coast after 26 active bombs found in eight days


The 'This is Kent' website contains this article announcing plans for RN clearance divers, most probably from Portsmouth-based Southern Diving Unit 2 (SDU2), to conduct a thorough sweep of the coastline after 26 unexploded bombs were washed up in Leysdown over eight days (see second entry for 28 Sep 11).


4 Oct 11 - HMS Bangor blasts mines on the Tobruk run


HMS Bangor off Tobruk

(Navy News photo by PO(Phot) Paul Punter, FRPU East)


The Navy News website contains this article describing the destruction by HMS Bangor of a torpedo and a 2,000 lb Former Soviet Union ground mine lying in 145m (475ft) of water off the coast of Libya.  The article features MCDOA member Neil Marriott (Commanding Officer of HMS Bangor) and PO(MW) Steve 'Stirling' Moss (Ops Room Supervisor).


SeaFox CCTV image of ground mine off Tobruk

(Navy News photo by PO(Phot) Paul Punter, FRPU East)


Today's Portsmouth News contains this article covering the same story.  It includes a short video of the event.


3 Oct 11 - RN Diving Heritage: Clearance Divers in the Suez Canal


Dave Honour, nephew of the legendary Cdr Stuart 'Jazz' Honour MBE (see entry for 10 Jun 10 in News Archive 30), has drawn my attention to this Pathé News item showing members of the Mediterranean Fleet Clearance Diving Team operating at Port Said in 1956:


Navy Frogmen at work on Salvage in the Suez Canal


"Suez Canal, Port Said, Egypt.  Frogman - Sidney Carter of Eccles is dressed in diving gear - helped by Stewart Honour of East Grinstead.  Philip White (of Bognor Regis) Mediterranean Fleet Clearance Diving Officer briefs diving team. R. David Audoire of Guernsey - Derrick Clarke of Bristol - Allen Wilkinson of York - Jack Graham of Shoreham - Sidney Carter of Eccles.  Team Dive.  Examine Wreck and climb aboard.  Report to officer - details passed onto Salvage experts.  CU.etc.  Frogmen on wreck."



The Sub Lt featured in the film clip is Stuart Honour and the Lt is Phil White, ex-Superintendent of Diving and now MCDOA member Cdr Philip Balink-White MBE who lives in Florida with his wife, Capt Linda Balink-White USN.  The triple-cylinder air breathing apparatus appears identical to the set developed by Jacques Yves Cousteau and donated to Lord Louis Mountbatten which is now displayed in the Historical Diving Society's museum at Stokes Bay.


From ex-CD Jim 'Tommo' Thomson:


"G'day Rob,


The Pathé film certainly shows the Cousteau set, very interesting.  Nick Carter ran the Deepwater football team, also was at Comex (controlling the 'Uncle John' crew changes) when I joined them.  Dave Audoir was instructing his first 3'sies course with me on it.  Derek Clarke was my one'sie on the Guz B&MD Team at the beginning of 1967.  Derek also went on the Sealab experiments with the team boss Lt Cyril Lafferty.  Strange to see them all leap in with the triple set.  






2 Oct 11 - RNR Diving Branch: Help for Heroes Charity Event


I am grateful to MCDOA member John Herriman for this contribution:


"Dear Rob,


I hope this finds you well.  I thought I’d let you know that the RNR Divers have recently supported a charity event for Help for Heroes over the weekend of 24/25th September.  This involved a team of four negotiating an underwater obstacle course created in the spirit of the RN Field Gun by the Underwater Film Studio in Basildon, Essex.  All good fun and in support of a very good cause, and pleased to report that the RNR team broke the course record on their first run.  This was subsequently beaten over the remainder of the weekend but at least we set the standard! 


The photograph below shows the RNR Divers who participated in the event and raised well over £500 with further money still being collected.  


Left to Right: D2 Percy Thrower, LD Nick Carter, D2 Simon Morgans,

Lt Nick Foster and D2 Tony Cassidy


Not in the photograph is PO(D) Mac McGrath who supervised them and, who I am sure, will be familiar to a number of MCDOA members from his Plymouth Bomb Team days.  


I'm not sure how aware MCDOA members are about the RNR Diving Branch, which I took over the running of in August, so I thought it might be worth a short update.  We are a Branch with a good mix of diving experience, with recreational and technical divers, military and commercial divers, and ex-RN CDs, with roughly a fifty/fifty split between the latter and direct entry RNR.   We are now 33 strong, and aiming to get to our full strength of 40 in the near future so we are still actively recruiting.  We also have a nicely defined role of Underwater Force Protection and dive SABA to 30m, and provide support to the Fleet Diving Squadron on UK based Maritime EOD exercises and strategic port surveys.   


We run a training weekend every month in different locations (usual haunts of Plymouth, Portsmouth, Portland and DEODS) plus plan in two further weeks diving activity once per year which is often fulfilled by supporting FDS, or by running our own diving training courses.  The latter are run in a modular way and consist of an Air Phase, Search Phase (including a ‘live-in’ week) and two weeks at DEODS (same course as the RN Diver 1s) meaning all our divers are trained to the same standard in SABA and EOR as their RN counterparts.  We’ve even got one diver who was an ex-submariner now re-qualifying with SPAG as a Reservist. 


So hopefully everyone can see that we are doing our best to uphold the traditions of the Diving Branch, albeit as Reservists, and are very focused on supporting the Area Diving Units in whatever way we can.  For me it’s been nice to stay involved in military diving after leaving the RN over five years ago, and I’m finding the challenges of running the Branch a nice diversion from the challenges of my civilian career.


With best regards,





Lt Cdr RNR




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