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.

29 Jun 19 - RN Diving Heritage: Fleet Clearance Diving Team Bedford and Land Rover


I am grateful to website follower Bill Scriven for this email:


"Dear Rob,


Back in late 2015 or early 2016 you kindly provided me with some photos of the various Bedford support vehicles used by the Fleet Clearance Diving Teams.  At the time I was gathering information with a view to building a model of one of the Bedford MKs that the teams used and I promised to let you see the final result.  I made a good start on the model, but having almost completed it realised that I had made the body too short and put it to one side and turned my attention to other projects. 


Earlier this year I came across a photo of a Royal Navy Series 2 Land Rover carrying a RIB on a roof rack and decided to have a go at making a model of one of those.  Doing so rekindled my interest in the Bedford and, having finished the Land Rover, I decided to have another go at it. 


Rather than attach a load of photos to this email, I've included a couple of links below to my posts about the models on one of the military modelling forums, but if you want me to send you any just let me know:




Bill Scriven"


I am sure all members of our community will join me in congratulating Bill on creating these faithful reproductions in miniature.


24 Jun 19 - Wreck of HMS Hazard


I am grateful to MCDOA member Dave Stanbury, OIC Maritime Autonomous Systems Trials Team (MASTT), for this update:


"Good afternoon Rob,


Please see below and attached, AUV footage gathered by ex-CPO(MW) Fingers Dumbleton, of HMS Hazard, lost in 1918 after being rammed.






I’ve also attached a photo of her namesake RNMB Hazard (taken before Apr 2018), for use.  He’s approved for me to send it on to you for the MW and MCDOA sites.








Lt Cdr D R Stanbury RN"


HMS Hazard


Built: 1894 at Pembroke Dockyard


Lost: 2nd Jan 1918


Reason for loss: Accidently rammed by the casualty clearing ship SS Western Australia.


Originally a Dryad-Class Torpedo Gunboat, HMS Hazard would eventually be converted to a submarine depot ship – the world’s first – and this was her primary function throughout the First World War, providing support for the Fourth and later the Fifth Submarine Flotilla.  The Fourth flotilla patrolled home and Atlantic waters and the Fifth Flotilla formed part of The Dover Patrol - Its primary mission was to monitor barriers and defences at the eastern end of the English Channel to prevent U-boats from gaining access to western areas.  It also harassed German fortifications on the coast of occupied Belgium.


HMS Hazard resupplying three Holland Class submarines


On 17th November 1915 HMS Hazard was the first on scene to rescue passengers from the hospital ship HMHS Anglia which had hit a mine a mile east of Folkestone Gate.


HMS Hazard’s unfortunate end came in 1918 when, in thick heavy fog, she was rammed by SS Western Australia – an allied vessel.  With the ship basically sliced clear in two, it sank very quickly taking three crewmen with her to the bottom.  A fourth casualty later died of his wounds in hospital.  It was a sad and abrupt demise for a ship that had given sterling service throughout her career.


The wreck now lies in a general depth of 30m a mile east of the Warner Buoy in the centre of a deep water channel leading to the east Solent.  She is in two pieces and turtle (upside down), a good portion of her buried in the soft mud.  Due to strong currents, bad visibility and the close proximity to busy shipping lanes, it is not a highly popular dive spot and only for the experienced.  The site is not a protected war grave.


23 Jun 19 - NDG deals with unexploded torpedo in Scapa Flow


The BBC News website contains this article and The Scotsman website this article reporting that a Royal Navy bomb disposal team, presumably members of Faslane-based Northern Diving Group (NDG), has been sent to deal with an unexploded torpedo found on the seabed in Scapa Flow during an underwater survey on Saturday.



Postscript: The Aberdeen Press & Journal website reported that the diving team had blown up the torpedo in this article on 24 June.


22 Jun 19 - Minewarfare & Diving Heritage: Argentinian mine


I am grateful to MCDOA member Martyn Holloway for allowing me to publish this image of him with one of the Argentinian mines swept by the 11th MCM Squadron under his Command during the Falklands conflict in 1982. 



Martyn Holloway with recovered Argentinian mine at HMS Collingwood in June 2019


Martyn was reunited with the mine when he visited the Minewarfare Operational Training Centre (MWOTC) in the Maritime Warfare School at HMS Collingwood on Wednesday 20 June.  It is one of the 21 moored contact mines laid by the Argentinians in the approaches to Port Stanley.  The five converted trawlers of the 11th MCM Squadron, manned mostly by the ships' companies of Rosyth-based Ton class MCMVs, swept 10 of the mines; the others having broken adrift and floated away or failed to deploy properly.  This particular mine was recovered and rendered safe for mine Investigation & exploitation (MIE) purposes through the combined efforts of MCDOA member Bernie Bruen MBE DSC, OIC Fleet Clearance Diving Team (FCDT3), and team member LS(D) Anthony ‘Tommo’ Thompson who was awarded a Mention in Despatches in recognition of his service during operations in the South Atlantic. 


Bernie Bruen with recovered Argentinian mine in the South Atlantic in June 1982


Bernie describes the episode in detail, with several supporting photos, in his book 'Keep Your Head Down - A Falklands Farewell':  Please support this campaign for a reprint and pre-order your copy at the same time:



The campaign's Crowdfunding webpage is at:


For further information, see The Forgotten Few of the Falklands in the website's Dit Box.


21 Jun 19 - Dave Ince hangs up his fins



I am grateful to MCDOA past-Treasurer Dave 'Spidy' Ince, who transferred from the RN to the RAN in early 2007, for this update (see Dave's comment under entry for 20 Sep 18 in News Archive 63):


"Hi Rob,  


Today I woke up as a civilian for the first time in 36 years, one week and one day.  Having served with four navies (the RN, USN, Tongan Navy and the RAN), I can honestly say that I have managed to conduct my career to my entire satisfaction. 


As a General List Officer I happily and very deliberately avoided the ‘PWO trap’, remained on the coal face to the end and, as a result, avoided sucking on the ‘lollipop of mediocrity’.  From my humble beginnings as a Seaman Minewarfare to my humble conclusion as a Lieutenant Commander Minewarfare & Clearance Diving Officer, what a blast!  I can thank my old friend and mentor Bernie Bruen MBE, DSC for firmly setting me on the latter path.  There has never been a dull moment as 36 years packed with operational capers will attest to, 27 of those years are already chronicled in a book by a bloke called ‘Bradley Vincent’ titled ‘Far From Breaking Waves’.  I’ll be getting him on to the sequel soon.  Hahaha. 


Not surprisingly it has taken me the last six months on accrued leave to wind down.  Over the decades it has been a privilege to serve alongside some very fine folk and share some very unique experiences.  It has also been an honour to serve my countries.  I especially thank my wife Julie for standing by me through thick and thin, as the wife of a professional mariner and diver she has had the toughest job of all.  There is no doubt that she has navigated through much larger tempests and deeper water than I ever have.  


What next?  Cue Jules in 'Pulp Fiction':


“Well, basically I’m going to walk the earth, you know, like Kane in Kung fu...”

“So you decided to be a bum?”

“I’ll just be Spidy...”  


...Then I’ll be back as an RAN Reservist in October 2019 taking on the Operations Officer role of a mobile training team, training up the Pacific Island nations in the new Guardian Class Patrol boats that the Aussie Government are gifting them.  Sadly, unless I can convince Admiral Mike Noonan (the Aussie Chief of Navy) otherwise, it will mean I will have to cut off my ponytail (yes, six months of gardening leave will do that), but this sailor’s adventure ain’t over until the proverbial fat lady gets her vocal chords around Heart of Oak!  




Dave 'Spidy' Ince"


I am sure all members of our community will join me in wishing Dave and his wife Julie well for the future, whatever it holds.


20 Jun 19 - Reunion of Bob Hawkins and Topsy Turner


I am grateful to Bob Hawkins MBE for informing me that he and his wife Trudy rendezvoused with fellow MCDOA member David 'Topsy' Turner and his wife Yvonne in Slough last week.  Topsy and Yvonne were passing through on their way back to Hawaii via New York and Washington DC affter visiting their eldest, Jenni, in Italy and Topsy's mum in Harrogate.


Bob Hawkins and Topsy Turner


Yvonne Turner and Trudy Hawkins


The gang last got together in New Zealand in 2014 when Topsy was the Commanding Officer of the Sealift and Amphibious Support Vessel HMNZS Canterbury and Bob was the Lead Maritime Planner at the Headquarters Integrated Area Defence System (HQ IADS) at RMAF Butterworth in Penang, Malaysia (see entry for 2 Oct 14 in News Archive 48).


Topsy, who transferred from the RN to the RNZN in 2004, has been extended as the NZDF Liaison Officer to the US Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) in Hawaii until December 2019 (see entry for 17 Sep 16 in News Archive 55).  He will then return to New Zealand in a newly-formed job to oversee the Operational Capability of the RNZN's new diving vessel, HMNZS Manawanui, while providing Command mentorship and professional expertise to the CO, Lt Cdr Andy Mahoney RNZN.


19 Jun 19 - Minewarfare Heritage: Minelaying U-boats


I am grateful to Nigel Waterton for allowing me to publish these photos he took during a visit to the Imperial War Museum last week.  He points out that there are some amazing exhibits and entry is still free.





UC-5, one of the U-boats that laid mines during the First World War, was captured by the Royal Navy and exhibited in the UK, and later the USA, for fundraising purposes as described here:


The German submarine UC-5



A Pathé News video of UC-5 being towed to Temple Pier on the River Thames in 1916 can be seen here. 


Captured Submarine Mine Layer 1914-1918


Over 300,000 people paid to see the minelaying U-boat in London, which resulted in these questions being asked in the House of Commons:


Hansard 17 Aug 1916: German submarine at Temple Pier


Mr. GILBERT asked the Secretary to the Admiralty whether he can make a statement as to the number of persons who were admited to view the captured German submarine at the Temple Pier, the total receipts from the exhibition, and the amount available for distribuion to naval charities?


Dr. MACNAMARA  The total number of people who passed through the turnstile is 302,960, and the total receipts £3,650 15s. 7d.  After the necessary expenses of the exhibition have been deducted, the balance remaining will be available for distribution to Naval charities.  The account will be got out shortly.  The Admiralty are much indebted to the police, the Port of London Authority, and the London County Council, for the trouble which they have taken to make the exhibition a success.  I am quite sure also that the public have greatly appreciated the services of the warrant officer in command, and of the chief petty officer and other ratings of the Royal Navy and Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve who were in charge of the vessel, and of the arrangements for admission.


Mr. CHURCHILL  Will the right hon. Gentleman now consider whether this weapon cannot now be put to a more military use?


Dr. MACNAMARA  I believe that has been considered.


Full details of German U-boat minelaying operations during the First World War are included in 'Home Waters: Royal Navy, Royal Canadian Navy, and US Navy Mine Forces Battling U-Boats in World War I', the first volume of the trilogy co-authored by your humble webmaster and Cdr David Bruhn USN. 



Signed copies are available via the Project Vernon website shop with all proceeds going towards the Vernon Minewarfare & Diving Monument.


Project Vernon online shop


17 Jun 19 - RN Minewarfare & Diving Heritage: Bincleaves


I am grateful to former CD1 Dave Shewan for drawing my attention to this article on the Dorset Echo website announcing that the remaining buildings on the former Qinetiq Bincleaves site in Weymouth are to be demolished to make way for a multi-million pound retirement home complex.  The facility was originally established in the late 19th century for the manufacture and test of the Whitehead torpedo.


Bincleaves site today showing the north-eastern breakwater of Portland harbour



Above and below: Bincleaves site in 2018



Many here will remember diving from the Vernon Building on the north-eastern arm of Portland harbour's near three mile-long breakwater at Bincleaves, pictured above, while under training, or as members of the CD Team based there under different guises. or in other circumstances.  Bincleaves was also the centre of excellence for research into RN mines and mine countermeasures, either in the old days of AUWE, DGUW(N), DRA and DERA or more recently DSTL and QinetiQ.


Bincleaves site looking towards the shore circa 1999


A limited edition 'History of the Bincleaves Site', compiled by Derek R Woodland, was published to mark the Millenium and is one of my most treasured possessions.



The booklet includes this image depicting the short (torpedo) range at Bincleaves circa 1900 with warships anchored in Portland harbour beyond.


Bincleaves short range buildings and Portland harbour circa 1900


Who will forget lugging diving equipment to and from the Vernon Building halfway along the breakwater?



Above and below: The Vernon Building at Bincleaves



Members of my LMCDO course at Bincleaves in 1976


From MCDOA member Jon Riches:


"Hello Rob,


I was interested in the piece from Dave Shewan about the proposed development of Bincleaves.


Like Ray Ramsay I too have fond memories of the old Vernon building.  During my 1966 MCDO Course we spent a week there practising jackstay swims and undertaking a night attack swim against work up ships.  We also learnt about dome changes on a barge moored alongside which I think was called 'Serepta'.  During this time we were accommodated in the Kings Arms and enjoyed the hospitality and magnificent breakfasts provided by Mabel. 


I visited Bincleaves many times afterwards especially with the Western Fleet CD Team.  In fact my last dive in the RN in 1992 was from Bincleaves Vernon Building and if I remember the FOST MCDO at the time was Chris Ameye.


Happy days!




From former WO(D) Ray Ramsay:


"Hi Rob,


 Dave’s information regarding Bincleaves has brought back many fond memories.  


Mabel’s [The King's Arms], the finest pub on earth, God bless her.  


FCDT. T 12s, training, work-ups.  


Training, qualifying as CD2 & 1.  


Assisting in various trials.  


Instructing Babies, CD2s & MCDs  


Memories to savour for all time.  






16 Jun 19 - RN MCMVs in the Gulf


A tweet from COMUKMCMFOR (Commander UK MCM Force - currently MCDOA member Steve White - in Bahrain for Operation KIPION):


16 Jun 2019 - Working closely with our US allies to maintain the free flow of commerce remains at the heart of what we do.



14 Jun 19 - RN Minewarfare & Diving Heritage: Lt (jg) Eugene C Haderlie USN


The recently published 'Enemy Waters: RN, RCN, RNoN, USN and Other Allied Mine Forces Battling the Germans and Italians in World War II', co-authored by Cdr David Bruhn USN and your humble webmaster, pays tribute to several overseas officers who performed bomb & mine disposal duties while attached to the Royal Navy. 


Included among these is Lt (junior grade) Gene Haderlie USN who had a remarkable upbringing even before his action-packed service with the Royal Navy.  His rough-and-tumble childhood in Wyoming during the Depression was followed in early adulthood by an undergraduate expedition to Baja Mexico.  During this trip, he crossed paths with John Steinbeck and suffered an inflamed appendix taken out by a veterinarian.  Presumably these experiences helped steel him for two years as a diver in World War II, defuzing mines in the English Channel and enduring the trauma of D-Day on Utah Beach.  These experiences and his later work as a biological oceanographer are detailed in 'Conversations with Marco Polo', published in 2006.


Gene Haderlie with German GP mine in 1944


These images show Gene Haderlie with fellow naval bomb & mine disposal officers Lt Stephen Wilkinson RNVR and the legendary Cdr John Ouvry DSO RN in 1944.



Left: Gene Haderlie (left) and Stephen Wilkinson (right)
Right: John Ouvry (left) and Gene Haderlie (right)


Lt. Stephen Wilkinson RNVR had been a concert pianist before the war, attesting to the diversity of volunteers for this dangerous vocation.  He received a Mention in Despatches “for courage and undaunted devotion to duty,” and was awarded the associated oak leaf on 15 August 1944.  Only a few months later, he lost the use of his right hand after a flooder cutter exploded while he was examining a GP moored-influence mine.  It was one of several such German mines brought to the Frater Armament Depot near Portsmouth, following their capture on a barge in Antwerp, Belgium.


Gene Haderlie, USN, dressed in MRS

(Mine Recovery Suit) in 1944


Capt Peter Hore RN, the Daily Telegraph's naval obituary writer, asked me today whether Gene Haderlie was still alive.  A little research revealed the following tribute:


Eugene C. Haderlie

March 23, 1921 - January 1, 2015



Eugene Clinton Haderlie was born to Clifford and Myrtle Haderlie of Thayne, Wyoming in 1921.  He died peacefully in his home in Monterey on New Year's Day, 2015, at the age of 93.  


He received his PhD from U.C. Berkeley in 1950; and was part of the Monterey marine biology community for over 60 years.  He taught at the Naval Postgraduate School of Monterey, at U.C. Berkeley, and at Stanford's Hopkins Marine Station on the Monterey Peninsula.  He was the co-author of Intertidal Invertebrates of California, published by Stanford University Press in 1980; a Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, and served on the first board of trustees of the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  In WWII he was a Navy diver under British command defusing underwater mines in the English Channel, and was part of the first assault on Utah Beach on D-Day.  He was a world traveler, a skilled carpenter, and a great lover of the natural world — a born teacher who always retained his sense of wonder about the world around him and the creatures in it, particularly his beloved dogs.  


His wife Aileen Elizabeth Haderlie, whom he married in London in 1945, predeceased him in 1998, as did his brother Lamar in 2010.  He is survived by his daughters, Lisa Haderlie Baker of Alameda, and Janine Bruce of Monterey; his granddaughters, Fiona Beatrice Baker and Beryl Elizabeth Baker, both of Oakland; and his sister Hazel Leavitt of Thayne, Wyoming.   He will be deeply missed by his friends and family. 


Memorial contributions may be made to the Eugene C. and Aileen E. Haderlie Memorial Book Fund, Miller Library, Hopkins Marine Station, 120 Ocean View Blvd., Pacific Grove, CA 93950-3024.  


Published in The Monterey Herald on Jan. 18, 2015


Signed copies of 'Enemy Waters' can be ordered via the Project Vernon website's shop for £30 each (including UK p&p and a £10 donation towards the Vernon Minewarfare & Diving Monument:


The entire trilogy covering Royal Navy and allied nations' minewarfare operations during the First and Second World Wars totals almost 1,300 pages of detailed text, images, maps and diagrams.  It can be ordered from the same source at the discounted price of £75 (including UK p&p and a £20 donation towards the Vernon Minewarfare & Diving Monument.




13 Jun 19 - A new book by Chris O'Flaherty



MCDOA member Chris O'Flaherty is the current Captain of the Maritime Warfare Centre (MWC) at HMS Collingwood.  Last year he was the Royal Navy’s Hudson Fellow at St Antony’s College, University of Oxford where he researched ‘Naval Mines as an Instrument of Statecraft’.  Previous beneficiaries of the Hudson Fellowship have included MCDOA members Chris Ashcroft in 2000 and Matt Offord in 2016 as well as a host of other luminaries from the Navy List.


Chris has since written this article for the January/February 2019 issue of Warship World and has received permission from MCI Media to have it reproduced here:


Naval Mining: From Politics to Practicalities by Capt Chris O'Flaherty RN


As stated at the end of the article, Chris hopes to release a book covering his findings at the end of the year.  In the meantime, he has launched Crash Start: The Life and Legacy of Lieutenant Richard Guy Ormonde Hudson DSC Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve about the donor of the legacy that sponsored his fellowship at Oxford:




In 1940 a first-year student at Oxford gave up his legal studies to serve his country in its time of need.  He served with valour and distinction, receiving the Distinguished Service Cross for developing and then delivering battlewinning tactics that protected the flanks of the D-Day landings.  But Guy Hudson also saw things that cannot be unseen, and experienced the horrors of war that become tattooed on one’s soul. 


This is the story of a brave and patriotic sailor who helped sink the German battleship Bismarck, drove his Motor Torpedo Boat into enemy harbours right under the muzzles of Axis guns, and then pioneered radar control procedures for the small torpedo and gun boats that careered across pitch-dark maritime battlefields to guard the Allied landings in northern France.  It is also the story of a man who turned to alcohol to control the darker memories created by war, and whose life and business collapsed due to the demon of drink, before he was rescued by his second wife. 


His legacy now lives on at the University of Oxford through the Guy Hudson Memorial Trust – this biography is his tribute.


Hardcover: 138 pages

Publisher: The Choir Press (June 5, 2019)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1789630622

ISBN-13: 978-1789630626


This is an intensely well-researched and beautifully written biography about a fascinating individual's roller-coaster of a life.  Guy Hudson served his country well in MTBs and elsewhere before going on to achieve great things after the war but always tinged with tragedy.  It has been produced with the help of many of Guy Hudson's surviving relatives, former colleagues and friends and contains some poignant photos.  I thoroughly recommend it to anyone with an interest in Second World War naval history and biography.


12 Jun 19 - Recent tweets     


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


COMUKMCMFOR (Commander UK MCM Force - currently MCDOA member Steve White - in Bahrain for Operation KIPION)


7 Jun 2019 - Just another week in the Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary.  Honoured to have been at sea in Operations and remember the heroes of D-Day 75.


1 Jun 2019 - This is belonging.  MCM1 vs MCM2 Calcutta Cup.  This is what team spirit looks like.  Amazing rugby in tough conditions.  12-5 to MCM 2 the final score. BZ to HM Ships BLYTH, SHOREHAM, LEDBURY & BROCKLESBY.


30 May 2019 - Happy Naval Birthday to Warrant Officer ‘Cat’ Stevens.  36 years done and still at the tip of the engineering spear on the front line.


HMS Blyth (MCM1 Crew 1)


7 Jun 2019 - HMS Blyth proudly carries Normandy battle honours.  On D-Day her predecessor, a Bangor Class minesweeper took part in Operation Neptune, the invasion of Europe, sweeping the channel to Juno beach.



6 Jun 2019 - Our "lift the ship" challenge starts today!  38 of our crew are lifting the weight of our ship (nearly 600 tonnes!) to raise money for Macmillan Cancer.  Donate at:


31 May 2019 - HMS BLYTH’s crew enjoy using the UK Naval Support Facility’s gym when they come back alongside for re-provisioning or routine maintenance.  They are also training for the ship’s charity ‘Lift the Ship’ challenge later in the deployment.


HMS Chiddingfold (MCM2 Crew 2)


9 Jun 2019 - Since we took some villagers to sea we’ve been invited back to Chiddingfold to man a stall at their village fete.  The affiliation between us is as strong as it’s ever been.


9 Jun 2019 - ...and we (graciously) lost against the village children’s tug of war team!



23 May 2019 - The good news is that Commodore Wood (COMPORFLOT) presented the Marine Engineering Officer with his bar to his Long Service & Good Conduct Medal.  The bad news was the realisation that he joined the navy before some of his department were born.  Well done Chief of the Boat!


HMS Grimsby (MCM1 Crew 3)


28 May 2019 - After just over two years in Command of MCM1 Crew 3 and HM Ships Grimsby, Shoreham, Pembroke and Penzance, Lt Cdr Adrian Visram has handed over this morning to Lt Cdr Graeme Hazelwood.


HMS Middleton (MCM2 Crew 3)


6 Jun 2019 - Today we remember the events of 6th June 1944.  MCM2 Crew 3 salutes the service and sacrifice of our Veterans.



5 Jun 2019 - An amazing way to finish the D-Day 75 commemorations.


5 Jun 2019 - Today's HMS Middleton is one of the Royal Navy's globally-deployable mine countermeasures vessels (MCMV).  Along with our sister ship HMS Cattistock, we are proud to wear our D-Day Normandy 1944 battle honours.



5 Jun 2019 - Thanks for the display at Southsea, RAF Red Arrows!


5 Jun 2019 - During WW2, HMS Middleton was a Hunt Class destroyer and provided gunfire support to allied troops landing at Sword Beach on D-Day.


5 Jun 2019 - It's a great privilege to be taking part in the D-Day 75 commemorations in Portsmouth.  See us salute Poppy Legion veterans onboard MV Boudicca on the BBC's One Show later today!


HMS Pembroke (MCM1 Crew 5)


29 May 2019 - Our intrepid Marine Engineering Officer climbed Ben Nevis in aid of the Amelia May foundation, Pembroke’s and Crew 5’s chosen charity.  A great engineer and tireless fundraiser, well done MEO!


19 May 2019 - BBC News - Isle of Wight: WW2 sea mine detonated by Navy.


HMS Ramsey (MCM1 Crew 2)


9 Jun 2019 - The sun sets over the first day at sea of BALTOPS 19.  The task group of partnerships led by the US 2nd Fleet deployed as a professional force to demonstrate NATO’s presence and commitment to the region.


9 Jun 2019 - Kiel Naval Base was very busy this morning.  HMS Ramsey sailed along with the rest of the BALTOPS 2019 task group.  2019 is the 47th BALTOPS proving how NATO can respond to anything across the globe.


6 Jun 2019 - HMS Ramsey entering the Kiel Canal at sunrise this morning.  SNMCMG1 are transiting to the operating areas for BALTOPS 2019.


31 May 2019 - 8 ships, 6 countries, 1 team.  The task group are deployed on operations preparing for BALTOPS 19 next month.




31 May 2019 - So yesterday the XO and Leading Chef had a little competition.  As you can see, the XO lost and is now ‘duty dish-pig’.  Better luck next time!


30 May 2019 - HMS Ramsey alongside In Delfzijl, The Netherlands after a busy week of historic ordinance disposal with SNMCMG1 off the Dutch coast.  We will refuel, restore, refresh and then continue our operations.


29 May 2019 - SNMCMG1 conducting historical ordnance disposal of WW1/WW2 mines off the Dutch coast.  It’s fair to say it went off with a bang!


23 May 2019 - Another day, another sunset.  They never get old.


23 May 2019 - So the race is over and despite 2 punctures the bike won.  Well done XO.  Time for you to get back on board and do some work!


23 May 2019 - HMS Ramsey's Executive Officer is attempting to race the Ship through the Kiel Canal.  There is a speed limit but let’s see who wins!  On your bike XO!



23 May 2019 - Early start but a beautiful sunrise as HMS Ramsey and SNMCMG1 prepare to enter the Kiel Canal.


HMS Shoreham (MCM1 Crew 7)


6 Jun 2019 - SHOREHAM’s Crew have been busy displaying their drill mine recovery abilities, recovering four practice mines while conducting routine training in the Gulf.



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


4 Jun 2019 - New Mine Warfare (MW) Badges have arrived for the Ratings of MASTT!  The badge was originally worn by MW Ratings of the RN until the Operator Mechanic Badge was worn in the late 90’s.  MASTT’s own 2IC orchestrated the return of the badges to reinvigorate the Branch ethos.  BZ 2IC!



22 May 2019 - MASTT completes the FIRST EVER Autonomous ROV mission under a vessel (under the (ex) RFA Sir Tristram) in Portland Harbour.  Also a view of an exercise Mine Shape, from the ROV’s onboard camera, in Weymouth Bay, today.


22 May 2019 - The M500, currently at MASTT (soon to move to Project WILTON) is the latest ROV from Atlantas Marine.  The M500 is ideal for use in a wide variety of applications where maneuverability is key; EOD, ship’s hull inspection and jetty inspection.


22 May 2019 - The team from MASTT work valiantly to keep various equipment of the RN Sweep Demonstrator in ship shape condition, ready for the next time it is used, when on trials.


22 May 2019 - RNMB Hazard berths alongside RNMB Hussar at Bincleaves, Weymouth, today, in glorious conditions, for stores transfer.  Hazard is engaged in MASTT’s ROV Co-Pilot Trial with Seebyte and MOD DSTL while Hussar has been engaged with MASTT’s RN Sweep Trials.



11 Jun 19 - Award of LS&GC


Congratulations to WO1(D) Martin Slade on being gazetted for the award of the Second Clasp to his Long Service & Good Conduct Medal.


10 Jun 19 - Support a reprint of 'Keep Your Head Down'


'Keep Your Head Down' is MCDOA member Bernie Bruen MBE DSC's autobiographical account of his experiences during the Falklands conflict in 1982 as OIC of Fleet Clearance Diving Team 3 (FCDT3 - See The Forgotten Few of the Falklands in the website's Dit Box).


Please support this campaign for a reprint and pre-order your copy at the same time:



The campaign's Crowdfunding webpage is at:


9 Jun 19 - Awards of MSM


WO1(MW) Steve Harvey and CPO(D) Willie Sharp MBE heve been awarded the Meritorious Service Medal (MSM).  No more than 49 MSMs are awarded to Royal Navy personnel annually and the actual figure is usually smaller.


I am sure all members of our community will join me in congratulating Steve and Willie on their fine achievement.


8 Jun 19 - AORNFCD Reunion


I enjoyed an extremely convivial evening with members of the AORNFCD (Association of RN First Class Divers) at the Royal Maritime Club in Portsmouth tonight.  Special thanks to my old Coxswain and shipmate Brian 'Troy' Tempest for his excellent organisation and company as well as everyone else.


Attendees included Cris Ballinger BEM, David 'Jim' Bond, Alan 'Donkey' Bray, Neil 'Chris' Christie, John Dadd BEM, Tony Devitt, Chris 'Paddy' Doonan, John Dunkley, Mike Handford, Rob Hoole, Colin 'Scouse' Kidman QGM, Anthony 'Lawry' Lawrence MBE, Jim Lynch, Joe Maher, Dusty Miller, Steve 'Peggy' Neil, Bob Oulds QGM, David Sandiford, Kev Scargill, Les Sharpe, John 'Smudge' Smith MBE, Clive 'Taff' Thomas, Jason Webb and the older Tug Wilson. 






6 Jun 19 - 75th Anniversary of D-Day


Observing that today is the 75th Anniversary of D-Day, all members of our community are encouraged to read the following articles in the website's Dit Box and spare some thought to what must have been running through the minds of those involved precisely 75 years ago:


Operation Neptune: The Minesweeping Operation 5-6 June 1944


Operation Neptune: Frogmen - The First Men Ashore on D-Day


5 Jun 19 - Military Diver Memorial



MCDOA member Paul Guiver has sent me this notification:


Hi Rob,  


Can you please post the attached up onto the MCDOA website.  We are now well underway in statuette sales and would like to notify those of the Association who are not on social media:


The Military Diver Memorial


If you need anything else let me know.  


Many thanks.


Kind regards,




P Guiver

Managing Director

Monument Projects Ltd 



3 Jun 19 - Minewarfare & Diving Magazine


The 2019 issue of the RN Minewarfare & Diving magazine has been published.  Copies have been distributed to all MCMVs and Diving Units and an Interactive PDF version is available to anyone with access to DEFNET or Defence Connect.  Search for "Mine 2019".



Postscript: A pdf version of the magazine has been added to the Minewarfare & Diving Magazine Archive in the website's Branch History section.


28 May 19 - MW & D Promotions


Congratulations to LS(MW)s J R Beaumont, J K Bellingham, N S Cartwright, D G Clarke, M C Fay, R M Gaughran, C Hume, K J Kindred, M Newbold, D Osborne, P P Perkins and C D Proctor on being selected for promotion to PO(MW).


Congratulations to AB(MW)s R P Benson, K C Berrey, J W Bertman, E K Bland, L Connelly, J C Coupe, A M Dilallo, L E Dore, R L Gillies, J F Grayson, L D Grears, G S Kennedy, R M Lockwood, T C Longley, L B Marshall, L A McCormack, M T McParland, D W Millar, D P Nisbet, D Pear, E J Rattray, O H Rogers, T J Scott, H J Streeter, B R Taylor and RL Woodside on being selected for promotion to LS(MW).


Also, congratulations to AB(D)s D Gray and T Spetch on being selected for promotion to LS(D).


21 May 19 - Recent tweets


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


HMS Bangor (MCM1 Crew 8)


4 May 2019 - We’ve been proving our Gunnery skills and drills during Operational Sea Training. Here’s the 30mm in action.


Rob Hinton


14 May 2019 - Scotland, what are you doing to me?!  Are you trying to make me not want to leave?!  Standing by a resplendent HMS Bangor this morning.



HMS Blyth (MCM1 Crew 1)


20 May 2019 - HMS BLYTH’s Gunnery Officer enjoying an intense training session.


18 May 2019 - Our crew are able to use the fantastic facilities at the UK Naval Support Facility to keep Fighting-Fit and to justify eating all that great scran!


16 May 2019 - During the F1 event in Bahrain, Williams Racing came to visit us. Whilst we do not go as fast as the Formula1 cars there were plenty of similarities between the expertise, dedication and Team Work of all involved.


16 May 2019 - Our Gunnery Officer was having a go at some virtual F1 at the Bahrain circuit between races.


14 May 2019 - Two of HMS BLYTH’s Divers enjoying the racing at the Bahrain F1 weekend.



14 May 2019 - Our Chefs serving up another great meal for the ship’s company.  This is Halibut.


9 May 2019 - HMS BLYTH and some of the ship’s friends took on HMS MONTROSE at Rugby in Bahrain


9 May 2019 - BLYTH’s sea boat is dwarfed by the USS LEWIS B. PULLER.  One of our officers was loaned across to them for a week to work with the embarked French Navy forces, for his experience and his language skills as a liaison.


HMS Grimsby (MCM1 Crew 3)


20 May 2019 - [MCDOA member] Lt Cdr Dan Herridge and MCM1 Crew 6 have handed over HMS Grimsby to Lt Cdr Adrian Visram and MCM1 Crew 3.  Crew 3 are looking forward to making the Ship their new home as they conduct Operations and Exercise around UK waters.



HMS Middleton (MCM2 Crew 4)


18 May 19 - What fantastic photos!  Thank you Paul!


Paul Paterson


17 May 2019 - HMS Middleton (M34), passing through the West Kyle of Bute and the Kyles of Bute, as seen from Tighnabruaich and the Kyles viewpoint. Friday, 17th May 2019.  HMS Middleton is a Hunt-class mine countermeasures vessel of the British Royal Navy.


17 May 2019 - And that’s a wrap!  Crew 4 and the Mighty MIDD have completed training at FOST after a simulated patrol of contested waters.  Air attacks and narrow waters all combined into a challenging workout for the team. (Thank you daveswanpics!).



17 May 2019 - The narrowest part of the day was a careful transit through the Kyles of Bute - a tight fit!


17 May 2019 - A great day to finish, along with the fantastic passing out of our affiliated HMS Raleigh division the Gould 35s.


17 May 2019 - A huge congratulations to all of the Gould 35s on their passing out today.  Welcome to the next stage of your naval careers, and we hope to see you in the Fleet, and our Crew, in future! BZ! 


HMS Raleigh


17 May 2019 - For the final time here are our Gould 35s.  We hope you and your families enjoyed the day and best wishes for your future careers.


15 May 2019 - Nearly there Gould 35s!  Keep up the pressure and stay focussed - we’ll both be finishing on Friday, ready for what lies ahead.


HMS Raleigh


15 May 2019 - Last Ganges points for the Gould 35s for the assault course and they achieved the fastest time so far this term.  Two sleeps to go.



15 May 2019 - Week 5 and our last week of sea training!  Seamanship is a perishable skill that needs constant training - today we completed a towing serial with HMS RAIDER.


13 May 2019 - Training continues into the small hours.  Thanks HMS Bangor for the photo!


6 May 2019 - Teamwork will get you through even the toughest challenges.  None of us stand alone!  Well done Gould 35s, cracking effort!


HMS Raleigh


6 May 2019 - The Gould 35s came up against a few obstacles today, but proving nothing can stand in their way, they worked through them as a team.  Obstacle course complete.


4 May 2019 - This training is absolutely essential, but marks just the first step!  We have been undergoing the battle damage scenarios here at FOST, where the basics are taken on and up to a new level of integration and teamwork!


HMS Raleigh


2 May 2019 - If a fire breaks out at sea the Royal Navy are on their own, that’s why sailors are taught to deal with all sorts of emergencies. Here’s the Gould 35s learning to be ocean firefighters.


3 May 2019 - A beautiful evening sharing the Campbeltown Loch with CalMac Ferries.


HMS Ramsey (MCM1 Crew 2)


15 May 2019 - HMS Ramsey joined by a couple of extra sea riders while conducting MCM operations during Ex Open Spirit.  We not sure how much they can help us but they are welcome to take a break on our starboard GPMG!


12 May 2019 - No words needed.


11 May 2019 - HMS Ramsey launching Seafox while conducting live mine clearance operations during Ex Open Spirit.  SNMCMG1 MCMVs are clearing areas of the western Baltic Sea which were mined during WW1/WW2.



11 May 2019 - Congratulations to both of our ET(CIS) ratings who have been selected for Leading Hand.  Nicky and Cammy have worked extremely hard during their time with Crew 2 and fully deserve their promotion.  BZ both!


6 May 2019 - HMS Ramsey sails from Klaipeda for Exercise Open Spirit with SNMCMG1.  The task group is made up of units from NATO countries aiming to clear historical live ordnance.


6 May 2019 - Nearly 1500 people have visited HMS Ramsey alongside in Klaipeda this weekend.  SNMCMG1 and HMS Ramsey are promoting stability in the area and building on relations with our Lithuanian partners and allies.


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


21 May 2019 - This is the UK/FRA MMCM L3 ASV Unmanned Surface Vessel (USV) launching the new SAAB ROV called MuMNS, on Trials in Sweden.



21 May 2019 - MuMNS is Saab’s next generation mine disposal vehicle.  With its on-board sonar and cameras it locates the target, when the mine is identified, the pilot attach a charge to the mine and release it from safe distance.  Read more here.


21 May 2019 - The MNS Live firings, witnessed by MASTT 2IC, were in support of MMCM.  Here is a link to the proposed MMCM ROV, manufactured by SAAB.


21 May 2019 - MMCM Acceptance Event (AE).  This week, MASTT 2IC attended the latest Mine Neutralisation System Shaped Charge (SC) and Nail Gun (NG) AE, at the Alford’s Broadmead Range Facility.  You can see the characteristics of the Nail Gun and Shaped Charge during live firings.



20 May 2019 - MASTT along with members of SEABYTE software engineers are engaged in M500 ROV Co-Pilot Autonomous Trials today in Portland Harbour.  The aim of the Trial is to conduct Autonomous Underwater Surveys on the hull of (ex) Sir Tristram.


19 May 2019 - MCM2 Officers Pull for Oarsome Chance.  OIC MASTT and MCM2 SEO are 2 of the 5 man team that make up Team Seahorse.  Rowing across the finish line of the Portsmouth Pull in 3rd place, they completed the 10km course around Portsmouth Harbour in 1hr 27minutes.


16 May 2019 - It would be remiss of MASTT to say that Trials run without faults, defects or lessons learnt.  After all, that’s what Trials are all about and that’s how we develop SOPs and EOPs.  An Engine Bay open, this evening, can only mean trouble for Trials, after another pre-sunrise start.


16 May 2019 - Glorious mornings this week as the Sweep Demonstrator System is deployed for Optimisation Trials.


20 May 19 - MCM2 Officers Pull for Oarsome Chance


From MCDOA member Dave Stanbury:




Lt Cdr Dave Stanbury (OIC MASTT) and Lt Paul Proctor (MCM2 SEO) are two of the 5-man crew that make up Team Seahorse.   Lt Proctor is a veteran of Team Seahorse, competing in last year’s Oarsome Chance, Portsmouth Pull competition. 


Team Seahorse: Dave Stanbury second right


Lt Cdr Stanbury joined family and friends to complete the 2019 Team line up to raise money for this great cause.  The May 2019 Portsmouth Pull Competition was the first opportunity to conduct a training row for Team Seahorse, as they prepare for this year’s main event, in September, a 10km row, around Portsmouth Harbour in a St Ayles fixed seat coastal skiff.  Team work is a crucial factor in this sport and was evident within Team Seahorse, from the start of the warm-up.




Setting off well, the team made steady and determined progress, returning to cross the finish line in a respectable third place.  It completed the 10km course around Portsmouth Harbour in 1 hour 27 minutes.



Oarsome Chance is a privately funded charity, established in Oct 2015 and granted charitable status in June 2016.  Oarsome Chance aims to develop programmes to benefit educational and route to employability outcomes using vocational education and training; focusing on young people aged from 9 -21 years old who are disengaged from mainstream education and are at risk of exclusion and suffering disadvantage. 


You can help Oarsome Chance build its programmes by making a financial donation, either a regular monthly donation, or for a one-off amount.  Plus, if you are a UK tax payer, Oarsome Chance can claim back 25p for every £1 you donate.


Making a donation is easy and secure via our Virgin Money Giving page.




Dave Stanbury"


19 May 19 - That's Blown It!


The Portsmouth News website contains this article (including video) reporting the safe detonation by members of Portsmouth-based Southern Diving Unit 2 (SDU2) of the Second World War German ground mine trawled up by a fishing vessel off the Needles yesterday..



18 May 19 - SDU2 deals with German sea mine off Isle of Wight


The Portsmouth News website contains this article (including video) reporting that members of Portsmouth-based Southern Diving Unit 2 (SDU2) have been called to deal with a Second World War 7 ft-long German sea mine netted by a fishing vessel off the Needles this morning.



16 May 19 - AORNFCD Social


I am grateful to former CPO(D) Brian 'Troy' Tempest for this announcement:


The Association of RN First Class Divers (AORNFCD) reunion on the 7 June at the Royal Maritime Club in Portsmouth is open to all ex and serving MCDOs/CDs.


If you wish to attend, please contact Troy via this email address so he can sort out the food for members and guests.  The social commences at approximately 1945 after the AGM in the Nelson Lounge.  Members and guests usually meet in the main bar prior to the AGM start at 1900.


The deadline for contacting Troy is 28 May 2019.


I usually attend this function and it is always a cracking opportunity to chat with old friends and colleagues in the Branch.


Remaining survivors of the AORNFCD Reunion in June last year


14 May 19 - Latest LS&GC Awards


Congratulations to CPO(D) Kev Amaira and CPO(D) Ken Smith on being gazetted for the award of the second clasp to their Naval Long Service & Good Conduct Medal, to CPO(D) Richard Ellis on being gazetted for the award of the first clasp to his LS&GC and to PO(MW) S. Dixon, PO(MW) J. J. McCloy, PO(MW) D. P. Pearce, PO(D) D. R. Watt and LS(D) G. D. Williamson on being gazetted for the award of the LS&GC.


12 May 19 - RN Minewarfare Heritage: New book now published and available to order


'Enemy Waters', the capstone to the trilogy already comprising 'Home Waters' and 'Nightraiders' co-authored by your humble webmaster (Rob Hoole) and Cdr David Bruhn USN, has now been published and is available to order.  Apart from the significant part played by minewarfare forces during the Second World War, it includes much about HMS Vernon, the 'P-Party' port clearance divers and the ancestry of the RN Clearance Diver branch.




Enemy Waters: Royal Navy, Royal Canadian Navy, Royal Norwegian Navy, U.S. Navy, and Other Allied Mine Forces Battling the Germans and Italians in World War II

Cdr David D. Bruhn USN and Lt Cdr Rob Hoole RN  


When Britain declared war on Germany in September 1939, the Royal Navy was deficient in minelayers needed to try to hold enemy forces at bay and out of its home waters.  Turning first to the Merchant Navy, it requisitioned a liner and two ferries for this use, and a dozen destroyers and submarines were also converted to carry mines.  Later, six fast minelaying cruisers joined the force.  


When Italy entered the war on the Axis side in June 1940, the situation became dire.  As U-boats continued to sink shipping in the North Sea and around the British Isles, the Italian Fleet and German and Italian Air Forces controlled the central Mediterranean.  Royal Air Force Bomber and Coastal Command planes took up mining, as did old Swordfish bi-planes of the Fleet Air Arm. Joining in the fight were units of exiled navies, including the Dutch minelayer Willem van der Zaan, Free French submarine Rubis, and the Norwegian 52nd Motor Launch Flotilla. 


U.S. Navy mine forces supported the invasion of French North Africa in late 1942, subsequent landings in Italy, and the invasions of Normandy and southern France.  The Canadian 31st Minesweeping Flotilla was at Normandy, and joined in later operations.  Enemy Waters puts readers in the heart of the action. 


One hundred and forty-five photographs, maps, and diagrams; appendices; and an index to full-names, places and subjects add value to this work.


6x9, paperback, index, 434 pp

Heritage Books (9 April 2019)

ISBN-10: 0788458728

ISBN-13: 978-0788458729


MCDOA past-President Rear Admiral Paddy McAlpine CBE, the most senior ever RN Minewarfare & Clearance Diving officer, has kindly written one of the forewords to 'Enemy Waters' as he did for 'Home Waters':


"Enemy Waters, the third book in the excellent Mine Warfare trilogy by Commanders Bruhn and Hoole will evoke many memories for those who have served at sea and experienced the challenges posed by sea mines, whether they are modern and newly laid or still highly dangerous WWII relics.


Having joined the Royal Navy to dive in an attempt to emulate my childhood hero Jacques Cousteau (that amazing military leader, scientist, film maker and inventor of the aqua lung), I eventually found myself as a newly qualified Mine Clearance Diving Officer (MCDO) and Operations Officer on board HMS Chiddingfold, a Hunt-class mine countermeasures vessel.  We were preparing to deploy to the Persian Gulf in a small task group that included HMS Berkeley, commanded by co-author of this excellent book, Rob Hoole.  A hugely experienced and capable MCDO during his active service, Rob has gone on to thrive as a successful author as well, a widely acknowledged and a highly respected naval historian, specialising in mine warfare and diving.


Working up in the middle of the English Channel before we deployed to relieve the other RN Minehunters that were keeping the Strait of Hormuz open at a time of increasing tension, we started the day off as we usually did with System Operator Checks or “SOCs.”  A chance to turn all the gear on and test it with the maintainers ready to finely tune it up was always welcome.  We slowed down to mine hunting speed, turned on the 193M Sonar and, purely by chance, discovered a very solid sonar contact on which to run out the submersible.  As soon as the Chief Petty Officer Mine Warfare saw the sonar contact, his mine hunting antenna was immediately raised. “That’s a mine!” We launched the submersible, got it into position and with about ten metres to run, turned on the searchlight and video recorder. Into view came a fully intact, German WWII mine.  After the usual reactions and preps, the divers went down to neutralise the threat.


As interesting a start to the morning as this was, it was not the first and certainly was not to be the last intact WWII sea mine found in the English Channel during that year and in every year since.  They continue to turn up today during similar chance encounters, or in trawlers’ nets, or are uncovered on the beaches at extremely low tides; and mine warfare and diving specialists from the navies on both sides of the Channel continue to regularly deal with old WWII ordnance.


Mines, old or new, remain a potent weapon in wartime and a threat to all shipping once the shooting ashore has ended.  During WWII the Channel was strewn with them and for very good reason.  This relatively cheap-to-manufacture weapon always achieves a high return on investment if offered a target.  Countering the mine threat must be part of every amphibious plan to open the approaches to chosen landing areas for the amphibious forces and provide access to the ports and harbours for supporting shipping and follow-on forces once the battle has moved inland.  This book not only reinforces this point but also reminds those designing the navies and amphibious forces of the future that ignoring the lessons of the past would be folly.


Paddy McAlpine CBE

Rear Admiral Royal Navy (Retired)"



Home Waters: Royal Navy, Royal Canadian Navy, and U.S. Navy Mine Forces Battling U-Boats in World War I

Cdr David D. Bruhn USN and Lt Cdr Rob Hoole RN  


In WWI under a crippling naval blockade of its North Sea ports which ultimately resulted in the starvation of thousands of its citizens and as land warfare in Europe drags on, Germany endeavours to counter-blockade Britain via U-boat attacks on shipping and by mining waters round the British Isles.


Hundreds of fishing vessels from every port and harbour in Britain are pressed into minesweeping duties and minelayers sow fields to restrict and destroy German vessels.  Their efforts allow the powerful Royal Navy to hold the German Navy in port — except for occasional skirmishes, including the Battle of Jutland.  American destroyers hunt U-boats in British waters, while minelayers create a barrier between the Orkney Islands and Norway, to try to deny the enemy entry into the Atlantic.


Desperate, Germany mounts a U-boat offensive off North America in the summer 1918, to induce the U.S. to bring her destroyers home.  Although nearly one hundred vessels are sunk, this action fails. Germany surrenders in late autumn 1918 and allied vessels are left with the deadly task of removing thousands of mines laid in the war.


One hundred and fifty photographs, maps, and diagrams; appendices; and an index to full-names, places and subjects add value to this work.  


6x9, paperback, index, 428 pp.

Heritage Books (1 April 2018)

ISBN-10: 0788457985

ISBN-13: 978-0788457982



Nightraiders: U.S. Navy, Royal Navy, Royal Australian Navy, and Royal Netherlands Navy Mine Forces Battling the Japanese in the Pacific in World War II

Cdr David D. Bruhn USN and Lt Cdr Rob Hoole RN  


As war with Japan was imminent, the British laid minefields off Hong Kong and Singapore; the Dutch in the Netherlands East Indies; and the Australians off New Zealand and Australia, in an attempt to prevent enemy invasion.  Ships hastily converted to this task were referred to as “night raiders.”  Duty aboard a “floating ammunition dump” was hazardous enough; missions carried out under the cloak of darkness increased the odds of survival in enemy waters.


As MacArthur, Halsey, and Spruance’s forces advanced toward Japan, minesweepers worked with “night raiders”—clearing waters off landing beaches, while minelayers strove to deny the enemy freedom of the sea.  Australian seaplanes (“Black Cats”) flew long, perilous night-missions to mine Japanese harbors, and British submarines and planes joined in the attack on shipping.


Late in the war, USAAF bombers ringed the Japanese home islands with thousands of mines.  When hostilities ended, war-weary “sweep sailors” remained in Asian waters—ridding the sea of “shipkillers.”  The little-known efforts of these valiant men are illuminated in this rare look into history. 


One hundred and forty-four photographs, maps, and diagrams; appendices; and an index to full-names, places and subjects add value to this work.  


6x9, paperback, index, 416 pp.

Heritage Books (9 November 2018)

ISBN-10: 0788458434

ISBN-13: 978-0788458439  


Signed copies of these books can be ordered via the Project Vernon website's shop for £30 each (including UK p&p and a £10 donation towards the Vernon Minewarfare & Diving Monument:


The entire trilogy covering Royal Navy and allied nations' minewarfare operations during the First and Second World Wars totals almost 1,300 pages of detailed text, images, maps and diagrams.  It can be ordered from the same source at the discounted price of £75 (including UK p&p and a £20 donation towards the Vernon Minewarfare & Diving Monument.



11 May 19 - EOD incidents for SDU2 in Littlehampton and on IOW


The Littlehampton Gazette website contains this article reporting a call out for members of Portsmouth-based Southern Diving Unit 2 (SDU2) to deal with a suspected grenade, later deemed safe, discovered at Littlehampton in West Sussex.


The Island Echo website contains this article reporting today's detonation by members of Portsmouth-based Southern Diving Unit 2 (SDU2) of an item of ordnance found at Totland Pier on the Isle of Wight last night.


10 May 19 - Launch of 'Crabbgate'



Today I was privileged to attend the book launch of 'Crabbgate' by Dr John Bevan on board the historic 'HMS Warrior 1860' in Portsmouth.  This was a particularly fitting venue as the ship was one of the hulks forming HMS Vernon afloat from 1904 until its move ashore to the Gunwharf in 1923.  She is currently berthed only a few hundred yards from where Cdr Lionel Crabb OBE GM RNVR (who was known as 'Crabbie' to his friends and colleagues - the nickname 'Buster' was foisted on him by the media) mysteriously disappeared while diving covertly under the Soviet cruiser 'Ordzhonikidze' when it brought Nikita Khrushchev and Nikolai Bulganin on a diplomatic mission to Britain in 1956.



John Bevan is not only the founder of the Historical Diving Society (HDS) and its excellent museum at Stokes Bay but is also a trustee of Project Vernon, the campaign to erect a minewarfare & diving monument on the former site of HMS Vernon in Gunwharf Quays.  In 1970, he and fellow Royal Naval Scientific Service member Peter Sharphouse established a new world diving record at the Royal Naval Physiological Laboratory's Deep Trials Unit (DTU) in Alverstoke 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”. 



Ann Bevan spoke on behalf of John, who is weakened by his current medical treatment.





However, the main talk was given by former Daily Mail journalist Peter Marshall who broke the story of the event and the subsequent bungled cover-up in 1956.  He bought his first house from the proceeds.




It was good to see my old friend and fellow MCDOA member Julian Malec and Lionel 'Buster' Crabb's god-daughter Claire Harris (daughter of the late CDO Sydney 'Jackie' Warner MBE DSC) as well as such HDS luminaries as ex-CD Mike O'Meara, Kevin Casey, Mike Fardell, Nigel Phillips and Henry Yelf.





Thanks as well, Ann, for the delicious refreshments we enjoyed on the green afterwards.


'Crabbgate' is a greatly expanded version of 'Commander Crabb - What Really Happened', also by John Bevan (see entry for 11 Sep 14 in News Archive 47).  Copies of 'Crabbgate' are available via John's Submex website at:


Postscript: The Portsmouth News website contains this article reporting the launch of the book.


8 May 19 -  NDG members conduct ice-diving in Canada


The Royal Navy website contains this article reporting that Royal Navy divers from Faslane-based Northern Diving Group (NDG) have joined their Canadian and American counterparts in frozen British Columbia to practise the dangerous art of diving under ice. 




The article features WO1(D) Si Crew.



7 May 19 - NDG called out in Scotland


The Oban Times website contains this article reporting Sunday's call-out for members of Faslane-based Northern Diving Group (NDG) to Caol near Fort William after a local angler landed a suspected unexploded wartime device while fishing in Loch Arkaig, near Spean Bridge.   The item was removed to a safe location destroyed yesterday morning.


6 May 19 - First International CDO Course


Following my publication of articles about Overseas LMCDO courses (see entry for 19 Mar 19 in News Archive 65) and listing of students, I received this email from MCDOA member Mike Gillam who qualified as a CDO in September 1955:


"Many thanks Rob,


A list that brings back many memories.  I note that it includes a few from other navies.  Should it not also include those on the course that I was detailed off to run September to December 1955 at HMS Defiance, the old Wilcove Camp on the Cornish bank of the Tamar?



I may have their names somewhere among my files but, from memory, those standing are (from left to right): a Portuguese Navy diver whose name I have totally forgotten; two Royal Netherlands Navy divers surnamed Barrelds and Schaap; me; Course Instructor CPO Bungy Edwards; and finally Lieutenant Valkert Vilkins Royal Netherlands Navy.  Those seated are (from left to right): Lieutenant Willi (can’t recall his surname) Royal Norwegian Navy; Lieutenant Juan de Carvalhosa Portuguese Navy; CPO Bas de Konig Royal Netherlands Navy; and Mr Shah Pakistan Navy Bosun.


As I remember, the course members insisted on being photographed fully fitted and finned!


Yours aye,




Thank you, Mike.  This is indeed a historic photograph of the first International CD course trained by the Royal Navy.


5 May 19 - Death and funeral of Ailsa Martin


Ailsa Martin on Gyllyngvase Beach in Falmouth


Many MCDOs of a certain vintage will have had the pleasure and privilege of knowing Bunny's Hall landlady Ailsa Martin (aka 'Mrs M') in Falmouth and her four wonderful daughters: Sarah, Tina, Vicki and Lucy, all of whose weddings I have attended.  She lived just along the road from Alison at Penpol.  MCDOA member Hamish Loudon MBE, my CO when I was navigating HMS Laleston (HMS Vernon's diving training tender), first introduced us in 1973 and Mrs Webmaster and I have enjoyed many visits since.


Ailsa died at home on Monday 29 April at the age of 92 and a thanksgiving service will be held at St Mylor Church, where Vicki's husband Jeff is the vicar, at 1500 on Friday 17 May.


I am sure all members will join me in extending our deepest condolences to Ailsa's many friends and relatives.


From MCDOA member David Bartlett MBE:


"Dear Rob,


We were very sorry to hear the sad news of Ailsa.


Ailsa was such a lovely person who was a very close friend of the Lalestons and visiting MCDOs.  We will always remember our visits to Bunny's Hall and the excellent hospitality we always received.  The girls will be in thoughts on the 17th.




David and Dorothy"


2 May 19


SDU1 deals with pyro in Somerset


The West Somerset Free Press website contains this article reporting the collection of Plymouth-based Southern Diving Unit 1 (SDU1) of a live military parachute illuminating flare washed up on the beach at Minehead in Somerset.


SDU2 deals with ordnance on IOW


The UKNIP 247 website contains this article reporting a call-out for members of Portsmouth-based Southern Diving Unit 2 (SDU2) to Arctic Road in Cowes on the Isle of Wight to deal with a dredged-up items of ordnance. 


1 May 19 - Recent tweets    


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


Royal Navy


1 May 2019 - The Navy’s leaders of tomorrow were shown the possible future of minehunting when the remote-controlled Apollo sailed into Dartmouth.  Cadets from Britannia Royal Naval College were able to have look over the futuristic Anglo-French marvel.



HMS Bangor (MCM1 Crew 8)


5 April 2019 - We’ve been training with HMNB Portsmouth-based HMS Middleton and NATO partners practicing keeping the seas safe from the threat of mines, keeping trade routes open for business.  Here she is in some rare Scottish sunshine.


HMS Blyth (MCM1 Crew 1)


16 April 2019 - A Ships Clearance Diver holding the fire fighters tallies controlling their air and timings.


16 April 2019 - HMS BLYTH conducting internal training of firefighting down hatches and ladders.  The ship has its own specialist Damage Control experts and trainers who keep topped up with individual training at HMS PHOENIX and collective training with FOST.


14 April 2019 - The seaboat returning alongside ready to be hoisted after a good training serial.  Mine Warfare and Diving ratings train to operate the seaboat along with many other skills on board.


9 April 2019 - HMS BLYTH’s Crew maintaining their high level of training by conducting damage control exercises at sea.  The I/C is briefing the re-entry team about to reclaim the Galley.


8 April 2019 -  Working with coalition partners to recover their exercise drill mines and lost sweep gear.


1 April 2019 - We went to Abu Dhabi see what we did below.....


31 March 2019 - It's F1 race day!  Good luck Williams Racing from all of us onboard.  Thank you for coming to see us and returning the favour!  We will be cheering you on from sea all season!


22 March 2019 - Watch HMS Blyth's video about the crew.


HMS Brocklesby (MCM2 Crew 8)


2 April 2019 - We welcomed Hon Group Captain Carol Vorderman for a visit following the Bahrain Grand Prix.  Half the Crew were able to see the qualifying session & Lewis Hamilton.  Thank you to Tickets For Troops for making the arrangements.  Great way to celebrate RAF 101.



HMS Chiddingfold (MCM2 Crew 2)


13 April 2019 - We sailed this morning for Sea Safety Training with the help from our world-class training team at FOST.  We’ll see them again for an extended period of training in the Autumn.


12 April 2019 - Ready for Sea Date Inspection...HMNB Portsmouth.


HMS Hurworth (MCM2 Crew 7)


1 April 2019 - Sun's out, guns out.


HMS Middleton (MCM2 Crew 4)


1 May 2019 - We might be 35 years old, but through continuous upgrades and comprehensive training the Hunt MCMV is still one of the most capable minehunting warships afloat.  But the next stage in minehunting evolution is nearly with us!


30 April 2019 - When you need to practice finding mines, but there are none available, we lay our own!  Just a practice version though, and we’ll be picking it up later.


21 April 2019 - Wishing Her Majesty a very happy 93rd birthday!  As per Naval tradition, our duty watch have ‘dressed’ MIDDLETON from bow to stern on a glorious day in HMNB Clyde.


14 Apr 2019 - As the sun sets up here in the Gareloch, Crew 4 are still hard at work getting Mighty Midd ready for our first FOST inspection tomorrow.  Five weeks of intensive training await, and we finish about the same time as our ‘twinned’ HMS Raleigh Gould 35 recruits.


10 April 2019 - BZ Starboard!  But to both you and Port remember - our ceremonial training is a huge part of our image, and is key to successful Defence Engagement overseas.  Show us how it’s done!


10 April 2019 - It’s been a busy JOINT WARRIOR for the Maritime Reservists getting their sea time with us.  Mid Gumbley, LS(MW) King and AB(MW) Goddard have integrated brilliantly with Crew 4 and have gained considerable experience.



10 April 2019 - As we say in Crew 4, if we don’t know what’s broken we can’t fix it!  This is a really valuable way of understanding how Naval life impacts our families and friends.


6 April 2019 -  Our small size means that we sometimes need a specialist repair expert, so we are supported by the team from the Forward Support Unit (FSU).  Yesterday we were able to send one of our outboard engines ashore to be repaired, and it’s back already!


5 April 2019 - Another run-out for our Sea Fox Mine Disposal System - only a lump of concrete this time but it could easily be legacy bombs or mines from conflicts past.


2 April 2019 - The Mighty Middleton is back to her primary role with Crew 4 - driving lines and finding mines in a sunny but breezy Scotland.  Joint Warrior 191 is a huge and complex multinational exercise that is perfect for our training.


1 April 2019 - Half way through training, the beginning of a brilliant experience in the Royal Navy.  Keep at it Gould 35s!


29 March 2019 - Good morning the Fleet Flagship!


26 March 2019 - On Families Day we had the opportunity to recognise the hard work being put in by our ship’s company this year.  Congratulations to LET(CIS) Foakes for his sterling efforts in keeping our communications, IT and signals systems in good order!


26 March 2019 - Congratulations also to Leading Seaman (Mine Warfare) Jacobs, for his hard work during our regeneration and move from HMS CHIDDINGFOLD to HMS MIDDLETON.


26 March 2019 - Good morning RFA Wave Knight, a glorious start to the day!


25 March 2019 - Good morning HMS Forth!


22 March 2019 - What a great day!  Thanks to all our family and friends who enjoyed Families Day with us today, and to RNRMC, RNRM Welfare and The NFF who sailed with us to help our families prepare for deployment.



22 March 2019 - Our Sailors have the smartest uniform in the British Armed Forces - bar none!!  Wear it with pride!!


20 March 2019 - Delighted to host UK ACSC onboard today, a chance to show off the capabilities of the the Royal Navy’s smallest warships.  We hope you gained a useful insight into how we do business!


HMS Ramsey (MCM1 Crew 2)


1 May 2019 - HMS Ramsey sails from Gothenburg with SNMCMG1 to conduct operations in support of NATO.  Over the next 4 months she will key a part in building relations with our allies whilst providing security at sea protecting British interests overseas.


23 April 2019 - What a beautiful evening as HMS Ramsey passes under the Skye Bridge.  In keeping with RN tradition, if a lorry passed over the bridge while the Ship was underneath, the Navigator would owe the Wardroom a bottle of port.  However his money was safe tonight!


22 April 2019 - AND THEY’RE OFF!  HMS Ramsey deploys from HMNB Clyde for NATO tasking with SNMCMG1.  She will be part of the operational task group for the next 4 months providing security at sea and working closely with our NATO Allies.


29 March 2019 - Welcome aboard Captain MFP from HMS Ramsey.  The Navigating Officer was caught off-guard with the camera as he positioned the Ship ready to conduct the boat transfer with HMS Bangor.


28 March 2019 - Hands to flying stations on board HMS Ramsey today as we were joined by the team from HM Coastguard based at Prestwick.


27 March 2019 - HMS Ramsey and HMS Tracker have spent the day conducting navigation and seamanship training together including a towing exercise, coordinated pilotage and OOW manoeuvers in preparation for our upcoming SNMCMG1 deployment.


26 March 2019 - A great day of gunnery for HMS Ramsey in the Scottish Exercise Areas.  Fair winds and following seas to our friends in HMS Defender who passed us as the sun set over Scotland.


25 March 2019 - Royal Navy MCMVs work best in a pack.  This week HMS Ramsey has operated alongside HMS Grimsby and HMS Hurworth whilst conducting exploratory mine hunting.


23 March 2019 - The sun sets on another great Navy day.


23 March 2019 - HMS Ramsey continues MCM training near Campbeltown.  This time it was the turn of the mine clearance divers to be front and centre with diver conning runs and a simulated diving emergency.



23 March 2019 - “Final mission checks correct request permission to carry on and launch the vehicle.”  “Carry on and launch!”  HMS Ramsey conducting Seafox Mine Disposal System (MDS) training ahead of her upcoming NATO deployment.


HMS Shoreham (MCM1 Crew 7)


14 April 2019 - The Crew of HMS SHOREHAM work into the night to ensure that the sea lanes remain open all the time.


3 April 2019 - We conducted an exercise to contain and extinguish one of the biggest hazards at sea - FIRE.


2 April 2019 - The wet weather didn’t rain on us or HMS BROCKLESBY as we hosted several Qatar Navy Officers during our 2 day stopover in Doha.



1 April 2019 - The bonds formed during BRNC Dartmouth training know no bounds as SLt Ryan Price and SLt Mohammed Ali Almarzouqi Qatar Navy were reunited on board as we conducted Defence Engagement in Qatar.


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


3 April 2019 -  A MASTT exhibit all set up for the 1SL Retired Admirals’ and Generals’ Conference.  On display (L-R) IVER3 AUV, Mk1 Mine Shape (floor) M500 ROV (table) Rn Sweep (on video) Mission Planning/Analysis Laptops and finally REMUS 100 AUV.


3 April 2019 - Another MASTT exhibit, earlier in the week, for the SoS Rt Hon Gavin Williamson CBE, at QinetiQ. Displayed - REMUS 600 S and M variants, REMUS 100, IVER3, ATMP, RNMB Hazard, M500 ROV and Mk1 mine shape.


2 April 2019 - What a difference a day makes!  Glorious sunshine to thunder and hail storms, on RN Sweep Trials in Weymouth.



29 March 2019 - Future RN.  RN Sweep being shadowed by T45.


29 March 2019 - RN Sweep basking in the March sunshine, as the System continues Sweep Validation Trials off Weymouth.  The 3 Coil Auxiliary Boat (CAB) configuration is being towed by RNMB Hussar, the yellow float at the rear has an acoustic source suspended below, which also marks the end of tow.


28 March 2019 - RN Sweep Demonstrator Validation Trials, Weymouth.  These ensure modifications and upgrades have not affected the performance of the system and are also providing new members of MASTT with a perfect training opportunity, vital for future UK Trials.


28 March 2019 - All packed up and ready to roll!  Some MASTT preparations for a ‘Show and Tell’.  RNMB Hazard can be seen fitted with a Launch and Recovery System (LARS) and dummy REMUS 600.


25 March 2019 - Royal Navy Motor Boat Hussar is joined by 2 new Vahana boats, for a photo opportunity at AEUK Bincleaves, Weymouth.  ARCIMS6 (11m) will initially go to Project Wilton, with the larger (15m) boat (HEBE) going as an Autonomous solution.


Navy LookOut


20 April 2019 - HMS Middleton and HMS Hurworth heading into Faslane.



RN in Scotland


28 March 2019 - Command ship & minehunters from Denmark, Germany, the UK and Norway make up SNMCMG1, one of NATO MARCOM's permanent MCM high readiness groups.


Commander SNMCMG2 (Standing NATO MCM Group 2)


29 April 2019 - From 29th April 2019 to the 10th May 2019 SNMCMG2 will participate in the Spanish Minewarfare Exercise.  Welcome in the SNMCMG2 to our new member TCG Ayvalik.


25 April 2019 - Diving exercise, diving exercise!  SNMCMG2 conducted a diving incident exercise in order to practice the medical procedures of crews from both ships.  Later SNMCMG2 met ESPS TORNADO for some manoeuvres in the western Mediterranean.


17 April 2019 - SNMCMG2 and the Moroccan ship El-Lahiq left the port of Casablanca together on 15th April 2019 to conduct an exercise, which included a boarding exercise on board of FGS Werra.


15 April 2019 - From 12th April 2019 to 15th April 2019, SNMCMG2 was in Casablanca, the major port in Morocco.  Through some official appointments and also a football game, both navies improved and enhanced their cooperation and connections.


4 April 2019 - Today SNMCMG2 celebrated NATO's 70th Anniversary with a Table-Football-Game with our German and Spanish colleagues.


21 March 2019 - SNMCMG2 took part in exercise Ariadne 19 with the Greek Navy and other allied navies, to improve expertise on minewarfare procedures and training of MCM Forces.  We welcomed ITS Termoli to our group to support SNMCMG2 during this time and we now say goodbye to TCG Akcakoca.


29 Apr 19 - HMS Ramsey joins SNMCMG1


The Royal Navy website contains this article announcing that HMS Ramsey (MCM1 Crew 2) is sailing from her base at Faslane to relieve Portsmouth-based HMS Cattistock (MCM2 Crew ) in Standing NATO MCM Group 1 (SNMCMG1)


26 Apr 19 - Promotions to Commander


Hearty congratulations to MCDOA members Dave Louis, Keith 'Mabbs' Mabbott, Dan 'Doc' Morris and Ben Stait on their selection for promotion to Commander with effect from 1 June 2020.


25 Apr 19 - SDU1 detonates ordnance in Essex


The Brentwood Live website contains this article, including video, reporting today's detonation, presumably by members of Portsmouth-based Southern Diving Unit 2 (SDU2), of "an unexploded device" found near a yacht club at Leigh-on-Sea in Essex.


22 Apr 19 - Completion of Exercise ARTEMIS TRIDENT


The UK Defence Journal website contains this article announcing the completion of Exercise ARTEMIS TRIDENT 19 off Bahrain in the Gulf.


“The exercise involved over 700 personnel, 10 ships, and five helicopters from the three nations.  The ships included the U.S. Navy expeditionary sea base USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB 3), fleet ocean tug USNS Catawba (T-ATF 168), Avenger-class mine countermeasures ship USS Sentry (MCM 3), Island-class coastal patrol boats USCGC Maui (WPB 1304) and USCGC Wrangell (WPB 1332); the United Kingdom’s  RFA Cardigan Bay (L3009) and minehunters HMS Shoreham (M112) and  HMS Ledbury (M30); and the French Marine Nationale’s minehunters FS L’Aigle (M647) and FS Sagittaire (M650).”


17 Apr 19


SDU2 deals with EOD incidents on IOW


The Isle of Wight County Press website contains this article reporting a call-out for members of Portsmouth-based Southern Diving Unit 2 (SDU2) to deal with two items of ordnance discovered on the Isle of Wight including a shell on the cliff path between Chale and Whale Chine.


SDU2 deals with ordnance in Kent


The Kent Online website contains this article reporting today's detonation at sea by members of Portsmouth-based Southern Diving Unit 2 (SDU2) of an item of ordnance found on the beach at Dungeness in Kent.


16 Apr 19


Latest Awards of LS&GC


Congratulations to CPO(MW) E. C. Dudley on being gazetted for the award of the Long Service & Good Conduct medal and to PO(D) Nige Froude on being gazetted for the award of the first clasp to his Long Service & Good Conduct medal.


SDU2 deals with mortar round in Hampshire


The Portsmouth News website contains this article reporting today's disposal by members of Portsmouth-based Southern Diving Unit 2 (SDU2) of an 81 mm mortar round discovered in a bin at Havant Household Waste and Recycling Centre in Hampshire.


15 Apr 19 - Start of Exercise ARTEMIS TRIDENT


The Royal Navy website contains this article reporting the start of Exercise ARTEMIS TRIDENT 19 off Bahrain in the Gulf.  Participating forces include HMS Ledbury (MCM2 Crew 1) and HMS Shoreham (MCM1 Crew 7) supported by RFA Cardigan Bay plus US Navy and French Navy units.  The article features AB(D) Ryan ‘Mac’ McMenemy of HMS Ledbury. 



(Royal Navy images)



14 Apr 19 - NDG destroys pyro in Scotland


The Aberdeen Evening Express website contains this article reporting yesterday's destruction by members of Faslane-based Northern Diving Group (NDG) of a phosphorus marker found on St Cyrus beach near Montrose.


12 Apr 19 - NDG attends EOD incident on highland road


The BBC News website contains this article and the Aberdeen Press & Journal website this article reporting a call-out for members of Faslane-based Northern Diving Group (NDG) to deal with a "suspected unexploded device" discovered on the B9006 between Ardersier and Fort George.  The road was subsequently reopened to the public. 


9 Apr 19 - SDU1 call-out in Devon


The ITV News website contains this article reporting yesterday's call-out for members of Plymouth-based Southern Diving Unit 1 (SDU1) to investigate "chemicals and items" found at a property in Newton Abbot after the death of the householder.  Approximately 40 homes were evacuated but the area was later declared clear.


5 Apr 19 - SDU2 destroys 19th century shell in Essex


The Royal Navy website contains this article describing yesterday's destruction by members of Portsmouth-based Southern Diving Unit 2 (SDU2) of a 29kg projectile, thought to be a British rifled muzzle-loaded shell, discovered 30 meteres from the pier at Southend-on-Sea in Essex.  The article features CPO(D) Andrew Marshall. 



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