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.

27 Sep 19 - SDU2 detonates wartime mine off Southend


The Royal Navy website contains this article reporting the disposal by members of Portsmouth-based Southern Diving Unit 2 (SDU2) of a German GC ground mine found in the wreck of a 17th century warship near Southend Pier in Essex.



(Royal Navy images)



16 Sep 19 - Death and funeral of Lt Cdr Nigel Davies RN


Lt Cdr Nigel Joseph Ayrton Davies RN


I was saddened to receive this email today from MCDOA member Nigel Davies' wife Sue:


"Dear Rob,


I am writing to inform you of the death of my husband, Lt Cdr Nigel J.A. Davies RN.  He died while on holiday in Norway on Tuesday 10 September 2019.


Perhaps you would like to inform the other members of the retired MCDO branch of his passing.




Susan Davies"


Nigel qualified as an LMCDO at HMS Vernon in 1967.  His Course Officer was Hec Donohue RAN and his fellow students were David Bartlett MBE, Jack Birkett OBE RN/RAN, Peter Fougstedt SAN, Pat Gale, Mike Harwood MBE, Geoff Mullett, Chris Niven and David Ramsden RN/RAN. 




Nigel served mostly in Scotland, where he lived in Kircudbright, Dumfries & Galloway,  His appointments included the Battle class destroyer HMS Agincourt (1966-67), HMS Vernon for LMCDO Course 1967-68, HMS Maxton (1968-69), Plymouth Clearance Diving Team (1970-72), HMS Quainton (1973), HMS Kellington (1974), HMS Cochrane for SNICDT (1975-77), HMS Neptune for Faslane CDT (1977-79), HMS Cochrane as SOO MCM10 (1980-83), CO HMS Cattistock (1984-86), SMCDO to FOSNNI (1987-89), XO HMS Endurance (1990-91) and XO HMS Malabar in Bermuda (1992-95). 


After leaving the Royal Navy in 1995, Nigel became the manager of the Kirkcudbright Training Area which includes the Dundrennan Range.


In 2012, Nigel attended the MCDOA Northern Dinner and appears in this photo with seven other members who had completed an appointment as SMCDO to FOSNNI (see entry for 9 Mar 12 in News Archive 37).


Left to right: Don Crosbie, Rich Osbaldestin, Matt Offord, John Law, Bertie Armstrong,

 Phil Ireland DSC, Nigel Davies and Kev Stockton at HMS Neptune in March 2012


In 2017, Nigel and three other members of LMCDO '67 celebrated the 50th anniversary of their course at the MCDOA's Annual Dinner in HMS Excellent (see entry for 27 Nov 17 in News Archive 60).


Left to right: Pat Gale, David Bartlett, Nigel Davies and David Ramsden

at the MCDOA Annual Dinner in November 2017


A funeral service will be held for Nigel at 12 noon on Wednesday 2 October in Greyfriars Church, Kirkcudbright, DG6 4HZ.  Family flowers only.  Donations, if desired, in Nigel's memory to the RNLI and the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust.


In the meantime, I am sure all members of our community will join me in extending our heartfelt condolences to Nigel's wife Sue and their family at this difficult time.


From MCDOA member David Ramsden RN/RAN in Australia (LMCDO '67):


"Good morning Rob,


Very sad and surprising to hear about Nigel’s passing.  As you said it is a very premature departure and it will be devastating for Sue and the family.


So glad that we had the ‘catch up’ at the dinner after all these years.  We were togethor in Singapore as well as during the course.


Thank you for including me in the sad news.  I will contact Sue separately.  


Best wishes,




From MCDOA member Martyn Holloway:


"Dear Rob,


What desperately sad news concerning the death of Nigel Davies.  Such a gentle man with a perpetual smile and good word for anyone, a natural leader of men.  He relieved me as XO of HMS Kellington in late ’73 and I always enjoyed crossing paths with him ever since.   


Post Falklands conflict when Nigel and Karl Lees arrived at Port Stanley to relieve Alex Manning and Chris Meatyard, Nigel was instrumental in allowing the 11th MCM to escape the clutches of the burgeoning peacetime administration.  We were shattered having just finished clearing the minefields and wanted to go home but were being used to collect the gash from merchant vessels at anchor.  Having made a case that our draught (24 feet) prevented us from accessing the small harbours and we were thus of no real use, Nigel told us to sail and leave behind a long Intend Navmove that nobody would read and notice our route was direct to Gibraltar, skimming South America and passing over 1,000 miles from Ascension Island thus saving us days.  


It was good to see him at the 2017 MCDOA dinner where we laughed over the story.  I shall miss his cheery face.  


Yours aye,  




From MCDOA member David Bartlett MBE (LMCDO '67):


"Dear Rob,


Very sorry to hear the sad news of Nigel.  I have many great memories of LMCDO '67.  We never served together in the same area but kept in touch throughout the years.  It was a privilege that we were able to share those memories during our time together at the reunion in 2017.


Please pass on our love and condolences to Sue.






From MCDOA member Dougie MacDonald:


"Hello Rob,  


What very sad news.  I will indeed join you in extending heartfelt condolences to Sue and family. 


Nigel and I crossed paths frequently but I will always have two enduring memories of him:


- He hosted a whiskey party in Rosyth.  I don’t like whiskey but I met Mrs MacDonald.


- I commiserated with him in Port Stanley when he was trying to write off the cost of breaking bail for half his ship’s company after a visit to Montevideo.  


I regret that I can’t attend his funeral, overseas again but second retirement beckons.  






From Cdre Hector 'Hec' Donohue AM RAN in Australia (LMCDO '67 Course Officer):


"Good afternoon Rob,


Thank you so much for keeping me in the loop regarding the untimely passing of Nigel Davies.  I still remember him as a fresh-faced young Sub Lieutenant when he joined the course and was delighted when he turned out to be a very capable and competent MCDO.


Very sad news.






From MCDOA member Peter Waddington:


"Dear Rob,


Very sorry to read your email about Nigel's passing.  As suggested in your message of condolence, he was one of those people who one might have expected to be around for ever.  We had fairly frequent contact when he was on MCM10's Staff and I was the RN Staff Officer at HMS EAGLET.


A somewhat poignant recollection is my feeling that the last time we met was when he spoke at length about Chris Beresford Green at the latter's funeral; another untimely death.






12 Sep 19 - News from Andy Elvin


I am grateful to MCDOA member Andy Elvin OBE for this update (see second entry for 21 Mar 14 in News Archive 45):


"Good morning Rob,


Great work on the website, etc,.  I thought I'd drop you a quick update. 


My family and I moved to Rhode Island after retiring in 2014 where I keep busy with consulting work with my company, support International Programs at the US Naval War College, diving with the Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project (RIMAP), and if you ask my wife, too many projects in the garage.





Of particular note is the current work with RIMAP.  During the colonial period in the Americas, Newport, Rhode Island, was the third most important harbour in North America, second only to Philadelphia and Boston, and as a result there are numerous wrecks that litter the seabed.  Of particular note are the vessels that were lost during the American Revolution, when British and Hessian troops occupied Newport and the surrounding area in Rhode Island.  As part of the defences of Newport, the British scuttled 13 vessels to keep the French Fleet at range from Newport. 


Through 25 years of extensive research and wreck investigation, one of these scuttled vessels is believed to be the Lord Sandwich, formerly Captain Cook's HMB Endeavour.  Along with the Australian National Maritime Museum (ANMM), we have been investigating a significant site where we have yet to identify any evidence that discount the site from being Cook's ship.



For more information, see


Looking forward to the miniatures of the new Vernon Monument.  Always a bed and a beer available to anyone passing  


All the best,




11 Sep 19 - MCDOA President assumes Command at BRNC Dartmouth


I am sure all members of our community will join me in congratulating MCDOA President Roger Readwin on superseding Capt Jolyon 'Jol' Woodard RN as the Captain of Britannia Royal Naval College (BRNC) at Dartmouth yesterday.


Capt Roger Readwin RN
(RN photo)


10 Sep 19 - Latest awards of LS&GC


Congratulations to WO1(D) Si 'Ruby' Murray on being gazetted for the award of the second clasp to the Naval Long Service & Good Conduct Medal.



Congratulations as well to PO(MW) L Gordon on being gazetted for the award of the Naval Long Service & Good Conduct Medal.


9 Sep 19 - 3D images of Vernon Monument


These images were produced from the 3D scan of Mark Richards’ half life-size maquette of the Vernon Minewarfare & Diving Monument.  The scan is being used to create the final one-and-a-quarter life-size version due to be installed next spring at Gunwharf Quays on the site in Portsmouth previously occupied by HMS VERNON.





Quotes from various sources are currently being compared for the production of miniatures in various formats, sizes and materials.  Understandably, there is much to consider because the structure is more intricate than most designs of a similar nature.


Keep those pennies rolling in to the MCDOA's adopted cause:


Project Vernon - Donations


Project Vernon - Shop


8 Sep 19 - Call-out for NDG at Gourock


The Inverclydenow website contains this article describing yesterday's call-out for Faslane-based Northern Diving Group (NDG) to investigate a possibly explosive item on the beach at Gourock on the Clyde.  The item was declared safe.



7 Sep 19 - An 'extraordinary' MWA Dit Session


A special Southern Area Dit Session of the Minewarfare Association (MWA) took place at The Crown in Fareham on Thursday in honour of the visit of Steve Downey from Scotland to see his son pass out at HMS SULTAN.  However, by the time things had quietened down enough to take a photo, my fellow MCDOA/MWA joint-member David Sandiford, Barney Barnett and Dusty & Karen Miller (with their son Young Dusty) had, like Elvis, left the building.


Left to right: MWA members Peter Whitehead, Rob Hoole, Peter 'Taff' Reader, Jim Bowen,

Steve Downey and Steve 'Stirling' Moss


6 Sep 19 - New book about RAN CD Branch


I am hugely grateful to Don 'Scotty' Allan, historian of the Royal Australian Navy Clearance Divers' Association (RANCDA), for a complimentary copy of this book he has co-authored with RANCDA honorary member John Kennett.  It is an extremely welcome addition to my archives.






This colourful 420-page A4-sized paperback has taken five years to produce and only 330 copies have been printed.  It not only lists all RAN clearance diver recipients of honours and awards and describes the operations in which they were involved with vivid illustrations but also contains a roll of all RAN CDs who qualified up to 2018 with a special section dedicated to those lost on duty, during service or while under training.  Scotty says he has only 22 of the first print run left which he intends handing over to the RANCDA next week to sell on.  He is considering the production of a 70th Anniversary edition in 2021 which will include a condensed version of everything in this book plus any new material.  It will be hard cover and is likely to cost about $100 AUS plus postage.


5 Sep 19 - Funeral of former CPO(D) Kevin 'Kev' Scargill


I am grateful to former CD1 Cris Ballinger BEM for sending me the order of service for the funeral of Kev Scargill at Weston Mill Crematorium in Plymouth on Thursday 29 August (see entry for 15 Aug 19).


Click on the image to see in full.



Cris informs me that it was a short service conducted by a retired Commando gunner, a friend of Kev's.  A rousing chorus of Eternal Father, gustily sung by a good turn out of former clearance divers, but surpassed by the enthusiasm of the organist who was determined not to be drowned out.  There was also a uniform presence from Plymouth-based Southern Diving Unit 1 (SDU1).  Afterwards, people retired to the Ernesettle Working Men's Club [Parkway Social Club] to carry on the story telling. 


4 Sep 19 - MCD Heritage:  Stuart Honour's medals



I am grateful to David Honour, nephew of the legendary Lt Cdr Stuart 'Jazz' Honour MBE RN, for this update (see entry for 10 Jun 10 in News Archive 30).


"HI Rob,  


Long time no see. 


It's been quite a while since I last contacted you.  As you will see I now have a new e-mail address after leaving my last company.  I'm now working on contract.  


An amazing thing happened last week when my wife was packing up some additional items to bring over to SA.  She had been in UK working and we decided that after waiting five years we would have Stuart’s tribute ship's bell from the shipmates at HMS Triumph brought over here.  As she was wrapping the bell, she found a box in among some packing material and inside was Stuart’s long lost medal set.  These have been missing for about 40 years and thought to have been stolen.  Louise had a replica set put together for her tribute to Stuart in Australia as we never thought the originals were ever going to be found.  


So I have attached a photo of the set which may be of interest to the MCDOA as it includes the Bomb and Mine Clearance medal with Mediterranean and Near East clasps.  Also in the collection was the MBE presentation box with the citation showing why he was awarded it.  Clearing 53 tons of explosives from Tobruk is certainly an achievement worthy of an MBE.



I hope all is well in the South of England and the MCDOA website is going strong.  I must admit I haven’t managed to check on it for a long time.  


All the very best,




David and I last met in 2011 when he visited 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 (see entry for 23 Dec 11 in News Archive 36).


31 Aug 19 - Something different for SDU1


The Plymouth Live website contains this article reporting a call-out for Plymouth-based Southern Diving Unit 1 (SDU1) on Bank Holiday Monday (26 August) to deal with suspect IEDs planted in a garage at Upton Cross near Liskeard in Cornwall.  Police have classed the investigation as an attempted arson.  Officers suspect that an attempt was made to cause damage sometime between the evening on Sunday 25 August and the afternoon of the following day.



30 Aug 19 - Funeral of former CPO(MW) Tony 'Fred' Bassett


There was a good turnout at Holy Rood Church in Stubbington today for the traditionally rousing Welsh-oriented Thanksgiving Service for the life of Tony Bassett (see entry for 10 Aug 19).


Attendees included fellow MCDO member Phil Burrell (Tony's head of department at Babcocks) and Yours Truly (Rob Hoole) plus my fellow MWA members Lee 'Barney' Barnett BEM, Paul Campbell, Brian 'Sam' Cook (TCA Standard Bearer), John 'Jan' Harvey (MWA Standard Bearer), George Heir, Allan 'Bomber' Mills, Bob Mitchell and Peter 'Taff' Reader.  Former CPO(D) Sid Seabrooke also attended and it was particularly good to see some serving personnel in uniform, too.


Click on the image below to see the Order of Service:



After the service, most mourners repaired to the Cams Hall Golf Club to raise a glass in Tony's memory.

Once again, we offer our sincere condolences to Tony's wife Rona and their family.


29 Aug 19 - MWA Southern Area Monthly Dit Session


It was good to see our old friend and colleague, former CPO(MW) Vaughan 'Nobby' Clarke BEM, at our Minewarfare Association (MWA) Southern Area Monthly Dit Session last night.  Other attendees included my fellow joint-MCDOA/MWA member Bill Kerr, Robert 'Dixie' Dean MBE and Westy Westbrooke.


Left to right: Rob Hoole, Bill Kerr, Nobby Clarke, Westy Westbrooke and Dixie Dean


Nobby is currently visiting his UK homeland from New Zealand.


28 Aug 19 - A busy week for SDU1


Plymouth-based Southern Diving Unit 1 (SDU1) has certainly been kept busy with EOD incidents in the West Country this week:


29 August: Watch the moment a World War Two bomb is blown up on South Devon beach


28 August: Police and bomb disposal called after unidentified packages found


28 August: Police investigate after bomb found at business in Cornwall  [The library photo mistakenly shows a member of the RAF’s 5131 Bomb Disposal Squadron, due to be disbanded in April next year.  See: End of an era: UK air force to disband bomb disposal unit]


28 August: Royal Navy clears scores of 'lethal munitions' at Devon harbour after Boris Johnson visit


27 August: Brixham restaurant evacuated after ‘grenade fuses’ found


27 Aug 19 - Spanish minehunter runs aground 


The Costa Blanca & Costa Caleda Leader website contains this article reporting that the Spanish minehunter SPS TURIA ran aground off the La Manga headland this morning as it joined in the search for aircraft wreckage following yesterday’s crash of a C101 trainer fighter jet in which the pilot, Comandante Francisco Marín, lost his life.



The design of the six Spanish Segura class minehunters is based on the RN Sandown class minehunter.


Postscript: The same website published this article on 19 September announcing that:


"The Naval Chief of Staff (Ajema), Teodoro López Calderón, has removed the commander of the Cazaminas Turia from his post and suspended him from duty...


Engineers from Navantia and from the Navy are still assessing the damage suffered to the fiberglass and polyester hull, as well as to the engines and equipment which were affected by the water.  Initially, according to shipyard sources, the repair could be cost prohibitive and everything currently indicates that the ship, with 19 years’ service, will be scrapped and converted into a bank of spare parts for its five sister ships."


24 Aug 19 - Recent tweets     


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


Royal Navy


14 Aug 2019 - Welcome home HMS Ramsey!  After a four-month NATO deployment, HMS Ramsey has returned home – read about her deployment here:



HMS Chiddingfold (MCM2 Crew 2)


22 Aug 2019 - Exciting times ahead for HMS CHIDDINGFOLD.  This morning she returned to sea after a 12 week maintenance period.  A period of sea training lies ahead working towards her Deployment to the Middle East.



HMS Ramsey (MCM1 Crew 2)


10 Aug 2019 - HMS Ramsey welcoming friends and families on board for the final part of our return transit to HMNB Clyde.  The Crew have been deployed for nearly 4 months with SNMCMG1 and today we return to our home port for some well deserved leave.


10 Aug 2019 - HMS Ramsey paid a short visit to Tobermory on her return transit to HMNB Clyde.  We had a fantastic welcome by all of the locals.  Thank you all for your hospitality!


8 Aug 2019 - Guest appearance as Swimmer of the Watch by the Leading Chef today.  Well done LCh Si Parkes although I think we will need to find a smaller suit for you next time!


8 Aug 2019 - No matter where we are, what we are doing, the basics of being a sailor underpin everything. Here's HMS Ramsey letting go her anchor off the coast of Denmark while working with SNMCMG1.


8 Aug 2019 - From all on HMS Ramsey we would like to thank HDMS THETIS for her magnificent support to us as the Flagship of SNMCMG1.  It has been an honour to work alongside you during our time with the NATO task group.


4 Aug 2019 - MINE ON DECK!  HMS Ramsey using our Drill Mine to test our sonar and drill our divers whilst working alongside our NATO partners and allies.



3 Aug 2019 - HMS Ramsey welcoming FGS Weilheim to SNMCMG1.  We look forward to working alongside our German partners during the remainder of our time with the Task Group.


3 Aug 2019 - HMS Ramsey conducted a FIREX to refresh our skills.  We are currently deployed with SNMCMG1 conducting MCM operations.  We must always be ready to deal with any emergency at sea.


HMS King Alfred


18 Aug 2019 - In August 1944, Lt Cdr Sworder became one of the few WWII Royal Naval Reserve to be awarded the Legion of Merit by the US for bravery.  Trained at HMS King Alfred & an expert at minesweeping, he had already won the DSC for his courage on Operation Torch in North Africa.



19 Aug 2019 - It's worth mentioning that Lt Cdr Sworder's post-war RNR career was also remarkable.  After hostilities ended, he was temporarily retained in Royal Navy service & was later awarded the OBE for removing 75,000 German sea mines in four years from the Mediterranean!


Lt Cdr Edward Robert Denys Sworder OBE DSC RNVR was:


Gazetted on 18 May 1943 for the award of the DSC "for outstanding bravery and enterprise in the action in the harbour at Oran in HMS Walney"


Gazetted on 10 July 1945 for the award of the US Legion of Merit "for gallant and distinguished service during the invasion operations of the South of France"


Gazetted on 11 December 1945 for his appointment as an OBE "for Distinguished Service during the war in Europe"


His story is contained in his autobiographical 'The Time Has Come: Memoirs of a Seafaring Man'.



Edward Sworder fell in love with the sea at an early age and the sea loomed large throughout his life.  Whilst carefree 'messing about in boats' defined his youthful and later years, the very serious business of war as a Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve officer certainly proved his mettle.


Starting in 1939, he worked up ancient trawlers and their individualistic crews into effective minesweepers; then led them through the extreme dangers of clearing minefields around the British Isles and for the landings in Sicily, Italy and southern France.  Separately he took part in the ill-fated commando 'enterprise of desperate hazard' in Oran harbour which earned him a DSC and his war concluded with the award of an OBE - to be followed by a further four year retention (remarkably, as a Volunteer Reserve Officer) in the Service. 


This was, first, to coordinate the contribution of Great Britain and the other relevant nations in the task of clearing the Mediterranean of over 50,000 wartime mines, then to act in the most responsible role of British Naval representative to the British Government in prosecuting their successful action against Albania at the fledgling United Nations. This concerned the notorious 1946 Corfu Channel 'Incident', when two of His Majesty's warships were mined with extensive damage and many casualties, including the loss of 44 lives. 


His pre-war training and work as an engineer, nine post-war years in the Middle East as diplomat and businessman (which ended with the momentous changes resulting from the murder of the Iraqi king) then led to the promotion of Coseley's steel section hurricane-proof buildings in South America and the Caribbean and finally to his retirement base in Barbados. Illustrated.


23 Aug 19 - Latest from Project Vernon


Here is the latest 'artist's impression' of the Vernon Minewarfare & Diving Monument in situ in Pool B at Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth, the site previously occupied by HMS VERNON.  It is based on a 3D printed model using a laser scan of the half life-size maquette.  The finished bronze structure, due to be installed next spring, will be one-and-a-quarter life-size.



Project Vernon is the MCDOA's adopted charity and this monument will be dedicated to all those involved with minewarfare, diving and EOD - past, present and future.  Thank you, sculptor Mark Richards, for doing such a fantastic job!


22 Aug 19 - Funeral of former CPO(D) Kev Scargill


Brian 'Troy' Tempest, Secretary of the Association of RN First Class Divers (AORNFCD), has reported that the funeral of Kev Scargill (see entry for 15 Aug 19) will take place at 1045 on Thursday 29 August at Weston Mill Crematorium, Plymouth PL2 2EP. 


Following the service, a wake will be held at The Parkway Social Club, Ernesettle PL5 2EY.


Flowers and donations to Devon Air Ambulance should be submitted via the Funeral Director:


Walter C Parsons

The Firs

702 Budshead Road





21 Aug 19 - Gentlemen Who Lunch


Doug Barlow and your humble webmaster upheld the honour of the MCDOA's ‘Not Quite the Last of the Summer Wine’ trio yesterday with our old friend Lez Howard taking the place of the temporarily absent Martyn Holloway.  We were joined by Doug’s wife Jill and Lez’s mum Edna for a splendid lunchtime session at the Red Lion in Chalton where we were well looked after by its charming Welsh manageress Tracy before adjourning to Doug & Jill’s cottage in Emsworth for tea & stickies.





20 Aug 19 - History of the RAN CD Branch


Three illustrated podcasts have recently been released covering the history of the RAN Clearance Diver Branch which very much mirrors that of the RN CD Branch.  They have been produced by the University of New South Wales (Canberra) Naval Studies Group in conjunction with the Submarine Institute of Australia, the Australian Naval Institute, Naval Historical Society and the RAN Seapower Centre.


Four of the five narrators (Vice Adm Russ Crane AO CSM RAN, Cdre Hec Donohue AM RAN, Cdr Edward 'Jake' Linton BEM RAN and Lt Cdr Doug 'Pony' Moore GM RAN) have served at HMS VERNON and are keen supporters of the Vernon Minewarfare & Diving Monument, the MCDOA's adopted charity.  The RANCDA has graciously donated $500 AUS towards the Project and individual members have donated several hundreds more.


Clearance Diving in the RAN (Part 1)  Vice Admiral Peter Jones & his expert panel of Commodore Hec Donohue, Commander Jake Linton & Lieutenant Commander Doug Moore discuss the early days of clearance diving in the RAN and the achievements in both World Wars.


Clearance Diving in the RAN (Part 2) - From Confrontation to the end of Vietnam War  Vice Admiral Peter Jones & his expert panel of Commodore Hec Donohue, Commander Jake Linton & Lieutenant Commander Doug Moore discuss clearance diving in the RAN from the end of World War II to the Vietnam War. 


Clearance Diving in the RAN (Part 3) - From Vietnam War to 2019  Vice Admiral Peter Jones & his expert panel of Vice Admiral Russ Crane, Commodore Hec Donohue & Commander Pete Tedman discuss clearance diving in the RAN from the end of the Vietnam War to 2019.


From MCDOA member Bob Lusty:


"I was interested in the recent RAN podcast discussion regarding the early days of the Australian CD Branch.  CPO Raymond 'Dixie' Foord BEM was mentioned and, if my memory is correct, he joined us in HMS Vernon/Horsea Island in 1956/57 when I was a young Leading Seaman CD3 in the Acceptance Trials Team with our leader Lt Cdr Joe Brookes of X-6 fame.  Also the CO of X-6 was Australian Max Shean who stayed with me during the last supper with X-6 Crew.  CPO Foord was a well liked, enthusiastic member of the branch and an excellent ambassador for Australia liked by everyone during his time with the RN.  Doug 'Pony' Moore GM was around a little later.


The British Sub Aqua Club was organising an underwater challenge in Aldershot and invited RN CDs to enter.  Four of us were detailed off to take part.  There were ten different tasks each with a winners cup.  The first event was a surface swim which we lost by a mile.  Doug, the officer-in-charge, was not amused and accused all four of us swimming like bent sticks!  We won the remaining nine cups which we gave to the runners-up.  


The next time I met the Australian CDs was in 1960 during a SEATO exercise.  It was the early days of the Vietnam War, the Americans were in danger of being pushed out of Vietnam and wanted a way back in.  A beach in the Gulf of Thailand was selected for a survey.  USS Cook came in to Hong Kong and embarked the Far East CD Team.  Arthur Checksfield flew to Bangkok to make arrangements for the team.  USS Cook had their UDT Group and Recon people on board and a very happy group arrived in Thailand to start the work where we were joined by the Australian CD’s.  On completion of the survey USS Cook took us back to Hong Kong where the Brits, Aussies and the American teams had a week's jolly together.  


The next and last time I met our Australian naval brothers was again off Thailand whilst doing bridge time on HMS Dainty, a Daring class destroyer, having completed our Beira Patrol en route to Hong Kong via Bangkok.  We met two Australian Darings and exercised for a couple of days before going our separate ways.  They went up to the gun line in Vietnam and we went for a jolly in Bangkok which we didn’t feel good about.    


It is good to see the links between us are as strong as ever.  Long may it last.  


Yours Aye,


Bob Lusty"


From Don 'Scotty' Allan - RANCDA Historian:




The Daring class referred to with no dates could only be HMAS Vendetta & Vampire.  Both ships were allocated Op Service in Vietnam for the period: Vendetta 20/09/65 - 31/10/65 and Vampire 31/05/65 - 22/06/65. 


Neither of these ships deployed to the Gunline.  Escort duty only.  Vendetta did deploy to the Gun Line 15/09/69 - 11/04/69. 






19 Aug 19 - Anniversary of the death of Lt Cdr James Shermer Acton RN


Jim Acton on LMCDO '87B


Today is the 20th anniversary of the death of MCDOA member Jim Acton at the tragically early age of 37.  Jim was visiting the Naval Base at Gölcük in Turkey on 17 August 1999 to discuss a forthcoming MCM exercise as SOO MCM2 when it was struck by an earthquake.  He suffered internal injuries when he was trapped in rubble for six hours and died during the CASEVAC flight to RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire. 



Jim's funeral took place on 27 August 1999, firstly at St. Barbara's Church in HMS Excellent and then at Portchester Crematorium.  The service was attended by a large number of Service personnel and the MCDOA provided a wreath.


Please pause for a few moments today to think of Jim and his bereaved wife Alison, son Ashley and daughter Laura.


18 Aug 19 - News from Chris Baldwin


I am grateful to MCDOA past-Chairman Chris Baldwin for this update:


Cdr Chris Baldwin


The Reserves Diving Group has recently completed a diving work-up period in Portland Harbour and kindly invited me to join them so that I could regain currency on the SABA HMV diving set.  The aim of the week was to conduct hull and jetty/seabed search training for the RDG’s wartime role supporting the Fleet Diving Squadron in Maritime Explosive Ordnance Reconnaissance.


PO(D) Steve Boyd attending RDG divers on completion of their dive


The team took their opportunities for diving on the new RFA TIDEFORCE and RFA LYME BAY.




Left to right: Lt Cdr Adam Bolton, LS(D) Steve Cottrell and Lt Cdr Nick Foster


During the week the team also carried out some diving search tasks for the benefit of the Portland harbour authority.


As the Operations Officer of the NATO Submarine Rescue System I know what a significant contribution the RNR diving cadre makes to the UK’s commitment to the NSRS.  In fact, the RNR divers make up 60% of the RN NSRS diving team operating the transfer under pressure complex.  It was therefore an absolute pleasure to get the chance to dive with the team and get back in the water.  There was even a chance for a swift visit to the Green Shutters public house, which I’m sure all those who ‘enjoyed’ a period of training at FOST when it was based in Portland will remember fondly! 


17 Aug 19 - SDU2 deals with ordnance in West Sussex


The Worthing Herald website contains this article (including video) reporting the detonation on the beach at Goring, presumably by members of Portsmouth-based Southern Diving Unit 2 (SDU2), of ordnance removed from a garden near Worthing.


16 Aug 19 - RN diver commended for saving sailor's life


The Royal Navy website contains this article reporting that AB(D) Euan Griffiths has been commended for saving a fellow sailor's life in a swimming pool while off-duty in Bahrain.  AB(D) Griffiths is serving in HMS Shoreham (MCM1 Crew 6) and the article also features MCDOA member Dan Herridge, the ship's Commanding Officer.


AB(D) Euan Griffiths (left) being presented with his commendation

by Cdr Simon Cox (COMUKMCMFOR)


15 Aug 19 - Death of former CPO(D) Kev Scargill


Kev Scargill in June this year


Brian 'Troy' Tempest, Secretary of the Association of RN First Class Divers (AORNFCD), has sent this sad news:


"It gives me great sadness to have to inform you of Kev Scargill’s death at the age of 70.  A regular at the AORNFCD AGM [see entry for 8 Jun 19 in News Archive 66], he passed away yesterday and will be sadly missed by many. 


I will pass on more information, when known, regarding his funeral details.


Please inform others of the sad passing of this fellow diver, friend and colleague to many. 


Five Bells, mate."


14 Aug 19 - Award of LS&GC


Congratulations to CPO(D) David 'Daisy' May on being gazetted for the award of the 2nd Clasp to the Naval Long Service and Good Conduct Medal​.


This is an old photo of Daisy as a PO(D) 'getting them in for the team' during a Project Vernon promotion at Gunwharf Quays in 2011 but I couldn't resist it.



13 Aug 19 - SDU2 deals with suspected ordnance on IOW


The County Press website contains this article reporting a call-out on Sunday for members of Portsmouth-based Southern Diving Unit 2 (SDU2) to remove suspect unexploded ordnance found at Steephill Cove near Ventnor on the Isle of Wight.



12 Aug 19 - HMS Ramsey's homecoming


The Royal Navy website contains this article reporting the return of HMS Ramsey (MCM1 Crew 2) to her home base at Faslane, after a brief visit to Tobermory to embark families, following her four-month deployment with Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1 (SNMCMG1).  The article features AB(MW) Rzepecki.




(Royal Navy images)



I am sure all members of our community will join me in wishing the members of HMS Ramsey's ship's company an enjoyable time during their well-deserved summer leave.


11 Aug 19 - MCDOA members in Cyprus


I am grateful to MCDOA past-Chairman Paul Jones for this news of a 'brief encounter' with fellow MCDOA members Bob Hawkins MBE and Chis Flaherty in Cyprus:




I'm just dropping Bob the Dog [Hawkins] and Trudy off at Larnaca Airport after 10 days hols with me in North Cyprus.  We arranged to meet up with ex-Lt Cdr Chris Flaherty (OIC FDU1 (Chalfont) / XO HMS BLYTH) who is working in a dive centre here in Larnaca with his wife Gillian.



As you can see Bob pulled the RNCDA coin trick... Chris and I failed."


10 Aug 19 - Death and funeral of former CPO(MW) Tony 'Fred' Bassett


Tony Bassett


Tony passed away peacefully during the night of 5 August after a short illness.  He had an illustrious career in TON, HUNT and SANDOWN class MCMVs and served in Northern Ireland, the Falklands and the Gulf.  He was also an MCM Squadron Chief and spent time with the RNR but will probably be remembered most recently for leading the Hunter Project so effectivly in delivering RSNF training.


Tony's funeral will take place at 1100 on Friday 30 August at Holy Rood Church in Stubbington, Hampshire PO14 2AS.  The service is open to all who wish to pay their last respects and the family would like to welcome all who knew him.  After the ceremony, a cremation service will be held for family members only.


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


9 Aug 19 - Maquette of Vernon Monument scanned


Following the approval of the final design by a panel of Project Vernon volunteers (see entry for 6 Aug 19), 3D laser scanning of the half life-size model of the Vernon Minewarfare & Diving Monument was conducted today.  This will enable casting of the one-and-a-quarter life-size bronze sculpture and, eventually, miniatures in various materials.




The other photos show the enormous complexity of the task and the fine detail sculptor Mark Richards has applied to his creation without making it a characterless static 'teaching aid'.  He said that balancing such a large inanimate object as a moored mine with the dynamic human life forms of the divers so that they work in harmony was his greatest challenge and his greatest source of satisfaction.











For further background, information and pictures, go to the Project Vernon website at or the Project's Facebook group at


8 Aug 19 - NDG deals with explosive ordnance in Scotland


The Courier website contains this article reporting yesterday's detonation by members of Faslane-based Northern Diving Group (NDG) of an explosive device on the beach near Carnoustie in Angus.



The Northern Times website contains this article reporting Tuesday's detonation by members of NDG of explosive ordnance found in the water at Golspie in Sutherland.


7 Aug 19 - Funeral of former FCPO(D) David 'Mona' Lott BEM in NSW, Australia


I have just spotted this notice (see entry for 28 Jul 19):


LOTT, David.  Passed away 26/7/2019


The Funeral for the late David LOTT, of Eden, will be held on Monday 12 August 2019, with a service commencing at 2.00 PM, in the Chapel of Sapphire Coast Funerals, Pambula.  This will be followed by a Private Cremation.


I hope our Aussie friends give Dave the send-off he deserves.


6 Aug 19 - Final design of Vernon Minewarfare & Diving Monument approved


Today, a panel of Project Vernon volunteers, constituting members of the main supporting organisations (MCDOA, AORNFCD, MWA, TCA and RNCDA), visited the studio of distinguished sculptor Mark Richards in Ludlow, Shropshire and approved his final design of the Vernon Minewarfare & Diving Monument. 



This is the half life-size model from which the one-and-a-quarter life-size bronze sculpture, and eventually miniatures, will be produced.




The Project Vernon panel comprised Grenville Johnson MBE, Colin 'Scouse' Kidman QGM, David Sandiford, John 'George' Turnbull and Yours Truly (Rob Hoole), seen here flanking sculptor Mark Richards and his assistant Emma Lilley.



N.B. The supporting scaffolding poles will not appear in the finished product!


5 Aug 19 - Latest EOD incidents


5 August: Royal Navy blows up 15 bombs found on Westcountry beach


3 August: Bomb disposal squad in Cornwall park after man kicks suspect grenade


1 August: Glasgow street locked down as bomb squad probe 'grenade' found in house


20 July: UP IN SMOKE  Bomb disposal unit called to deal with WWII grenade – but it was just a lighter


4 Aug 19 - Don Crosbie assumes role of Deputy CTF 52


MCDOA past-Chairman Don Crosbie superseded Andy Lamb on 16 July as Deputy Commander of Task Force 52, US CENTCOM's Fifth Fleet organisation responsible for the command & control of all mine warfare assets in the region (see entry for 18 Jul 19).  He will be based at Bahrain for the foreseeable future and I am sure all members of our community will join me in congratulating him on his new rank and appointment.


Capt Don Crosbie RN


Don has pointed out that his fellow MCDOA members Capt Jim Byron DSC RN, an MWO and former Commander UK Mine Countermeasures Force (UKMCMFOR - see entry for 2 Dec 13 in News Archive 44), is also serving in the Gulf as the Deputy UK Maritime Component Commander (UKMCC) and Dan Herridge commands HMS Shoreham (MCM1 Crew 6), currently based in Bahrain for Operation KIPION.  Congratulations to Jim and Dan, too. 


2 Aug 19 - The Minesweepers' Victory


MCDOA member Nick Stanley has started a Twitter account titled 'The Minesweepers' Victory' and is publishing daily tweets chronicling events of interest during the lead-up to the Second World War 80 years ago.


Click on the image to visit.



1 Aug 19 - SDU2 detonates ordnance off IOW


The Island Echo website contains this article (including video) describing today's detonation, presumably by members of Portsmouth-based Southern Diving Unit 2 (SDU2), of an unexploded shell near Shanklin on the Isle of Wight.



30 Jul 19 - Recent tweets     


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


HMS Chiddingfold (MCM2 Crew 2)


23 Jul 2019 - Change of Command onboard HMS Chiddingfold today.  Lt Cdr MJ Ellicott RN took over at the top.  Thanks to Lt Cdr DR Morris RN for all his efforts and best of luck in the new assignment.


[N.B. Dan 'Doc' Morris is an MCDOA member.]



23 Jul 2019 - Today we say goodbye to Lt Cdr Doc Morris and will be welcoming later today HMS Chiddingfold’s new Commanding Officer Lt Cdr Matt Ellicott.  All the best Doc Morris!


[See entry for 23 Jul 19]


10 Jul 2019 - Yesterday the XO invited the Fire Brigade, to allow our team to tour the ‘Fire Appliance’ and share expertise.  We ran a joint fire exercise on board, including casualty recovery. Thank you Hampshire Fire & Rescue Service.


HMS Pembroke (MCM1 Crew 5)


30 Jul 2019 - Lt Cdr Kemp joins Crew 5 from the Maritime Battle Staff and RAdm Andrew Burns.  Lt Cdr Drewett’s next role will be working for RAdm Paul Halton in the Maritime Operations Centre, London.  Pembroke will be back at sea soon, ready to take on her vital Royal Navy and COMUKMCMFOR role.  


18 Jul 2019 - A shiny ship appears from the MCMV centre of excellence in Rosyth, as a major refit milestone is reached ahead of plan.  Back in the water, work continues to return her to the Fleet to deliver for RAdm Paul Halton and COMUKMCMFOR. Images courtesy of Babcock International.




HMS Ramsey (MCM1 Crew 2)


30 Jul 2019 - HMS Ramsey testing our pre-wet system and citadel this morning.  In the event of a chemical attack, this system would be used to protect the Crew.  Unfortunately today the ME Department had to get a bit wet though!


23 Jul 2019 - NATO Flag hoisted? ✅ Ship ready for sea? ✅ Crew ready for the challenge? ✅  HMS Ramsey departs from HMNB Clyde to rejoin SNMCMG1 and provide security at sea with our NATO partners.



29 Jul 19 - Mustard gas find results in prosecution


The Express & Star website contains this article reporting that three persons have been charged with possessing a machine gun and mustard gas at a former Second World War RAF base in Lincolnshire.  Members of Portsmouth-based Southern Diving Unit 2 (SDU2) assisted the investigation by recovering ten First World War mustard gas bombs from the bottom of Stixwould Lake near the village of Woodhall Spa (see entry for 18 Oct 17 in News Archive 60).


LS(D) Matt O'Brien was subsequently awarded a Queen's Commendation for Bravery for his involvement in the eight-day operation (see entry for 23 Nov 18 in News Archive 64).


LS(D) Matt O'Brien of SDU2

(RN photo)


From the London Gazette





28 Jul 19 - Death of former FCPO(D) David Lott BEM


I have received word via Cliff 'Abbo' Coulson-Bonner that Dave 'Mona' Lott crossed the bar this morning at his home in Eden, NSW in Australia after a long illness.  He would have been 83 next month.


Dave joined the Royal Navy at HMS St Vincent as a 15-year-old Boy Seaman on 6 November 1951 and qualified as a Shallow Water Diver at Malta in February 1955.  He qualified as a Clearance Diver at HMS Vernon in December the same year and served until 1976.  His career took him to many places but he most enjoyed his two stints in the Mediterranean Fleet CD Team based on Manoel Island in Malta.



This photo, courtesy of Dave, shows him squatting front right with his son Andrew, wife Jackie and eldest daughter Karen outside the Chapel of St Adjutor (patron saint of divers) at HMS Vernon circa 1964 after a christening in the inverted diving helmet font that now resides in St Barbara's church at HMS Excellent.  PO(CD2) Pete Lumbis is standing next to the Padre in the back row and CPO(CD1) Ernie Foggin is on the extreme right next to PO(CD2) Ted Shennan.  CPO(CD1) Gordon 'Hoppy' Hopewell BEM is the shorter man holding the boy. 



This website and I owe much to Dave for his many contributions over the years.  Type "Mona" into the search box on the Home page to see what I mean.  For several years, he and I enjoyed a four-way email exchange of banter with Michael 'Shiner' Brassington and Gabby Haines.  Our group has slowly dwindled over time and is now gone altogether but I did manage to put Dave back in touch with ex-CDO Les Maynard, also living in Australia.  Les (second left) attended a reunion with fellow ex-CDs Ron Neville, Jeff Collins, Mike Horlock and Cliff Coulson-Bonner in Perth, WA only a week ago.


Ex-RN CDs in Australia

(Courtesy of Cliff Coulson-Bonner)


Perhaps Dave will best be known for writing 'A Corkhead's Chronicle - Experiences of a Royal Navy Clearance Diver 1955-76', an autobiographical account of his career as a CD which includes mentions of such MCDOs and CDOs as Pat Dowland, 'Uncle Bill' Filer GM MBE, George 'Franky' Franklin, Bill Grady, Steve Gobey, Mike Harwood MBE, David Hilton MBE, Stuart 'Jazz' Honour MBE, Brian 'Jumbo' Jervis, Ken Kempsell GM, Cyril Lafferty, Hamish Loudon MBE, Chris Massie-Taylor OBE, Gerry 'Pincher' Martin, Les Maynard, Neil Merrick MBE, Peter Messervy GM MBE, John O'Driscoll MBE, Harry Parker MBE, Bob Pilling, Jon Riches, Norman Taylor, Ed Thompson MBE, Julian Thomson, Harry Wardle, Sydney 'Jackie' Warner MBE DSC and Bob White MBE plus many other CDs of all ranks and rates although some names are spelled imaginatively.



I am sure all members of our community will join me in extending our deepest sympathy and sincere condolences to Dave's family.  I will publish further information when known. 


From MCDOA past-Chairman David Hilton MBE:


"Dear Rob,


I  hope all is well.  Here I am in the Naval Base still working at age 71 and 55 years in uniform.  However, I aim to retire at the end of this year!  


I recently heard of the death of my very good friend: Mona (Dave) Lott.  Mona and Dusty Miller were my Leading Seamen CD2 Course Instructors (DCD 59) in 1968 – 51 years ago!  Where has the time gone?


Like all of us, we had tough times with up to six hours a day on O2 at Horsea Island in all weathers!   I remember being his Second Dickie to LMCDO Course '71, an excellent course well trained by Dave Lott.  He mentions me in his book because of my keenness, during a flying serial, when I grabbed hold of a helo strop and the static gave me an enormous shock.  All Dave did was laugh.  I quickly learnt not to touch a helo strop before being earthed again.


What a nice person Dave was.  I remember him being one of the first Fleet Chiefs.  Dave was always well measured, totally professional and will be sadly missed by us all.   It was so sad to hear of his death.  


My best regards,




From MCDOA member Steve Gobey:


"Hi Rob,


Back home for a short break from summer narrowboat cruising and trying to catch up with the world!


Sorry to hear about Dave ‘Mona’ Lott but it’s good to know that he had a good innings and was able to enjoy his retirement in Oz.  He was an inspirational Course Chief along with Course Officer Mike Harwood for LMCDO 71 (Me, Hamish Louden, Chris Massie-Taylor, Norman Taylor, and Julian Thompson) who trained us well.  He knew BR 155 (Ah, those were the days!) inside out, upside down and back to front.  Woe betide us if we didn’t try to do the same.


Proud to be one of his graduates.


Best Wishes,




From former WO(D) Ray Ramsay:


"Dear Rob,


Very sad news about Dave.  


I had the honour to serve under him in the FCDT.  He was the Team “Fleety” ’73 –’74 and was instrumental in getting me on CD1 course in 1974.


A true gent, very professional, a pleasure to work for, a first class leader and a great inspiration to me.  


Your Aye,




From ex-CD1 Cliff Coulson-Bonner:


"Thanks, Rob,  


A well written article for Dave ‘Mona’ Lott BEM RN.  It was also good to see Les and Ron mentioned at the Lunch.


Best Wishes,




26 Jul 19 - MWA Southern Area Monthly Dit Session


There was a fine turnout last night for the Southern Area Monthly Dit Session of the Minewarfare Association (MWA) at the Still & West in Old Portsmouth.  Joint MCDOA/MWA members present included John Bainbridge, Bill Kerr, David Sandiford, John 'George' Turnbull and Yours Truly (Rob Hoole).



Other attendees included Jim Bowen, Jay Buckley, Paul Campbell, Robert 'Dixie' Dean, John Gunter, Jim Hawkins, Pony Moore, Steve 'Stirling' Moss, Tony Mulrain, Gordon Neil, Andrew 'Ozzy' Osborne, Peter 'Taff' Reader, Tony Sheaf, Sean Slee, Mike 'Smudge' Smith, Bunny Warren Sr (Steve) and Bunny Warren Jr (Rhys), Soapy Watson and Peter Whitehead.


Unfortunately, MCDOA member John Bainbridge (right) was missed out of the group shot.



It was particularly good to see former WO(MW) Tony Mulrain (left) who has been out of the country for so long.



25 Jul 19 - HMS VERNON Heritage: Course photo tree and splayed eagle


During my recent visit to the Defence Diving School (DDS) on Horsea Island, WO1(D) Simon 'Ruby' Murray, with whom I have been collaborating on the production of a DDS timeline depicting the history of RN diving, showed me this coffee table which had recently been discovered in one of the offices. 



The inlaid plaque states that the table is made from the wood of the willow tree in the car park behind Creasy Building in HMS VERNON which formed the backdrop for hundreds of course photos including this one of the first ever LMCDO course in 1966. 



The tree was blown over in the great storm on the night of 15 October 1987 which prompted this article in Navy News:



I occupied the far left office on the first floor of Creasy Centre two years later when I formed the operator training team for the Saudi Al Jawf class minehunter.


While at Horsea, I also took this photo of the eagle at the top of the stairs leading to the mess in the old circular W/T building.



The same eagle appears in this photo, courtesy of ex-CD Phil Plevey, of the HMS Vernon-based Western Fleet Clearance Diving Team (WFCDT) in 1970 with MCDOA member Jon Riches as its OIC.



Ex-CD1 Derek 'Maggie' Lockwood says the eagle adorned the Home Station CD Team's diving tender HMS Dingley during the 1950s and early 1960s.  However, I suspect it originally came from the former German torpedo trials ship and seaplane carrier Walter Holtzapfel, a war-prize commissioned into the Royal Navy in 1946 as the deep diving tender HMS Deepwater and later used as a floating diving school alongside HMS Vernon.  Can anyone confirm or deny this?


From former FCPO(D) Chris Jones BEM:


"I first saw the brass eagle when I was serving in HMS Brearley at Port 1957.  It was dredged up alongside us.  When I asked the dredger man for it, he gave it to me.


We cleaned it and our Captain, Lt [later Lt Cdr] William 'Bill' Thornley MBE, decided that it would look good mounted on the ships mast and, because I had obtained it, I could give it a daily polish." 


From ex-CD1 Dudley 'Wooly' Woolnough:




I sent the article anyway although I'm not sure if you can translate it.





Dudley M. Woolnough MIIRSM Tech. IOSH

Deep Marine Works"


Any offers of a translation from the original Norwegian?


Postscript: I am grateful to Svenn Olav Kalvø, a Norwegian naval officer who qualified on LMCDO '79 at HMS Vernon, for this translation of the article above:




If you meet Julie Allen on the street in Porthsmouth in England, you would probably not guess that this attractive blonde of 21 summers (age) is a diver for the Admiralty. 


Julie, who is 163 cm high and weighs 60 kg, is in reality what some would say, born to dive.  In a way this is inherited as her grandfather was an expert diver for the British defence department.


Julie remembers how she sat on her grandfather's lap and how he told story after story about diving and hunting for treasures, searching for lost objects on the seabed, rescue operations and divers training.  The stories made a deep impression on Julie, but not in her wildest dreams would she have imagined that she would experience the same adventures, the only difference being that she as a woman would be more or less the only one in the area.  


Blood researcher


Before she started on this career, Julie Allen worked as an assistant in the blood research department at St. Mary’s & Queen Alexandra hospital in Portsmouth.  She had worked at the hospital for four years and had started to be rather restless in her work.  One day when she looked through the vacant job adverts in the local newspapers, she saw an advert with this heading: CIVILIAN ASSISTANT DIVER.


She immediately applied for the job and one week later she was contacted and asked to do a written exam together with 60 other applicants.  After a restless wait for two weeks, she was summoned to the office of Kenneth Haigh who leads the Admiralty Experimental Diving Unit in Portsmouth.  He told her that she had scored the highest of all the applicants and that she and together with two others could start in the job the next week.  This would give the department a total of 12 divers, but Haigh warned Julie that she would be the only female.  


Knows no fear  


He asked her directly if she had anything against working with only men.  Julie is not the fearsome type, and she went straight into her diving suit to show that she not only was as fearless as the male divers,igh repeats that she is highly qualified and in many areas actually is more qualified than the naval divers.  This is also because she has experience with mixed gas diving, which makes her able to go down to depths few women in the whole world have been before her.


The only worry seems to be how it will be for her with four days of decompression - something that is necessary after a dive to more than (.. number  missing ..) metres - together with male divers... But as Kenneth  but also that she was better than them.


Julie has a civilian position, but she has done dives of all sorts - and many of them are of great use for the British navy. 


Kenneth Haigh says: - Julie is fantastic at taking care of herself, being as young as she is. 


I ask Julie if she has been terribly scared while she has been diving. She answers: - Yes. What I remember best is a training dive where we should salvage an object from the bottom of the Portsmouth harbour.  The water visibility was very poor as it often is in Portsmouth.  And on the bottom she suddenly panicked. - It must have been the over 3x (.. number missing ..) kilos of equipment including the extra heavy diving boots they were testing.


It was really a double job - to salvage the object from the seabed and to get used to the heavy and bulky boots.  After some minutes she discovered that she was completely stuck.  She pulled four times in the rope - the diving signal for the crew on the surface that shortly means: - Pull me up. I am in trouble.  They discovered that something was wrong with the boots when she had come up.  She immediately went down again and managed to get the object up within the given timeframe. - I was straight forward scared, she says in a sincere way.


Many of Julie's female friends who hear her tell of her diving experiences, many often think that she exaggerates - they can not believe that such an adventures life is possible.  It is difficult for them to understand that their cute and generous friend has to go through such a hard training and that she has done dives that frighten male divers.  This is probably because of jealousy - and the fact that there still is only one woman in the department, even if other women have applied, but none have come in. Even her male diving colleagues admit that they sometime are jealous and have to make a hard effort to do the same dangerous dives that Julie has done. For who would like to hear that she surpass them in bravery and boldness?   -----------------------------------------------------------------------------  


Text in picture above article: Julie Allen, 21, is not only blonde and beautiful.  She is also as brave as few.  She has to be - as an experimental diver for the British Admiralty.  She would we like to go into the water with..."


24 Jul 19 - Gentlemen Who Lunch


What a scorcher, yesterday!  It was too hot for the MCDOA's ‘Not Quite the Last of the Summer Wine’ trio of Barlow, Holloway and Hoole to do anything but walk to the nearest pub with a waterfront garden for lunch and a thirst-quenching pint or two.  This happened to be the Lord Raglan in Emsworth.







23 Jul 19 - Doc Morris superseded


Best wishes for the future to MCDOA member Dan 'Doc' Morris who was superseded by Lt Cdr Matt Ellicott today as Commanding Officer of HMS Chiddingfold (MCM2 Crew 2).  He is seen here shaking hands with his Australian MWO-qualified XO.



21 Jul 19 - Rugby award for Martyn Holloway


Hearty congratulations to erstwhile MCDOA committee member Martyn Holloway on being presented with the Mitsubishi 'Value the Volunteer' award at the RN Rugby Referees' Annual Dinner last night.



I captured Martyn in action in January this year.




19 Jul 19 - Graduation of CD Course 03/18


It was your humble webmaster's birthday today and I was particularly thankful to be invited as guest speaker at the graduation of the clearance divers on AB(D) Course 18/03 at the Defence Diving School (DDS) on Horsea Island.  My key points linked our shared heritage with its ethos of respect, trust and camaraderie.


The event took place in the presence of family members and friends and kicked off with a couple of pep talks and presentations in the Vernon Room.  We were then treated to practical demonstrations of circuits and diving in Horsea Lake before finishing up in the mess for a light lunch. 



















Many thanks to Lt Col Mike Canham RE (CO DDS), Lt Cdr Jim Pearson (OIC DTG), WO1(D) Simon ‘Ruby’ Murray (DO3 DDS), PO(D) ‘Bernie’ Winter (Course Instructor) and LS(D) ‘Buster’ Brown for your hospitality.


Above all, congratulations to AB Baker, AB Bolton, AB Gurney, AB Hudson-Ryder, AB Maclaren (who earned the ‘top fin’ award) and AB Morgan for qualifying on the course.  Commiserations to those who were unable to complete the course for medical reasons but better luck next time round.


18 Jul 19 - Departure of Andy Lamb as Deputy Commander of Task Force 52


On Tuesday 16 July, non-MCD Captain Andy Lamb OBE, past Commanding Officer of several MCMVs and previous Commander of the First MCM Squadron, departed Bahrain after two years as the Deputy Commander of Task Force 52, US CENTCOM's Fifth Fleet organisation responsible for the command & control of all mine warfare assets in the region.


Cdr Simon Cox (COMUKMCMFOR) making a farewell presentation

to Andy Lamb in Bahrain


I am sure all members of our community will join me in thanking Andy for his service in the Gulf and wishing him well for the future.


17 Jul 19 - Morris Singer Foundry visit


Project Vernon, the charity committed to erectng a monument at Gunwharf Quays, formerly HMS VERNON, to celebrate the establishment's heritage and honour those involved in minewarfare & diving - past, present and future - has been the MCDOA's adopted cause since its inception.  Yesterday, Project Vernon volunteers David Sandiford, Grenville Johnson, Martyn Holloway and Yours Truly (Rob Hoole) accompanied sculptor Mark Richards to the Morris Singer foundry at Lasham in Hampshire to witness some of the processes it will use to cast the Vernon Minewarfare & Diving Monument in bronze.



Other project volunteers, including minewarfare technical advisor John 'George' Turnbull and diving technical advisor Colin 'Scouse' Kidman QGM, are visiting Mark's studio at Ludlow in Shropshire to verify the final design is as correct in detail as possible.


The monument is due to be installed next year but funds are still needed to cover the dedication, lighting, signage, educational facility, insurance, maintenance and other contingencies pending its transfer to a permanent body.


Further information is available at:


Project Vernon website


Project Vernon Facebook Group


Project Vernon Twitter feed


16 Jul 19 - SDU2 called to deal with grenade cigarette lighter


The Portsmouth News website contains this article reporting that Royal Navy divers, presumably members of Portsmouth-based Southern Diving Unit 2 (SDU2), were called to a house in Cosham yesterday to deal with a Second World War hand grenade converted into a cigarette lighter.  The item was found to be safe.



Postscript: The Portsmouth News subsequently published this article, including a video, on 17 July.


12 Jul 19 - Charity cycle ride by Fleet Diving Unit 2


I am delighted to promulgate this appeal:


Eighteen CD and MW sailors.  Eight days.  Seven hallowed sites. Six hundred miles.  That’s the challenge set by Portsmouth-based Fleet Diving Unit 2 over one week in August paying homage to the fallen and to raise money for the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity.



The team from Horsea Island – a mixture of 18 divers and mine warfare specialists, all experts in finding explosive ordnance in very shallow waters – are hitting the roads of France to pay homage to Britain’s WW1 and WW2 fallen, and raise money for the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity.


The 600-mile ride starts at Dunkirk, scene of the 1940 evacuation, passes through the Somme battlefields of 1916 and 1918, then heads down into Normandy with the emphasis on remembering the men and women of D-Day, 75 years on since the landings.  The riders will lay wreaths at specific memorials and sites as they pedal around the region, from Pegasus Bridge and the remains of the Mulberry Harbour to the new UK memorial and the five invasion beaches.  They’ll also stop at La Cambe Cemetery, last resting place for more than 21,000 German defenders of Normandy.  The cyclists set off on August 14 and intend to complete their epic tribute on August 21.


You can show your support for the team via:


11 Jul 19 - New Book from Don 'Jim' Green


I am grateful to former WO(D) Don 'Jim' Green for sending me a copy of his newly published book, 'I Was Paid to Get Wet'.



Don was born in a Morrison Shelter during an air raid in the Second World War in a village in Kent, 25 miles south-east of London and his book provides all sorts of similarly fascinating snippets.  As an autobiography, it spans his life to date but focuses mainly on his years in the Royal Navy between 1958 when he joined HMS St Vincent, the Boys Training Establishment at Gosport, and 1991 when he left the Service as a WO(D).  However, he later enjoyed a second lease of life as a Naval Staff Author in the MOD Civil Service responsible for writing. maintaining and distributing diving and EOD publications for the UK and NATO. 


MCDOA members and others of a certain age will identify with the naval routine, ships (including the frigate Hardy, the destroyers Diana and Diamond, the diving vessels Reclaim, Stena Inspector, Stena Seaspread, Seaforth Clansman and Challenger, the minehunter Hubberston) and establishments (Excellent, Vernon, Terror, Royal Arthur, etc.) with which he was asociated, the ports he visited, the operations he performed and the characters he met and worked with.  The book is well-written and makes for light and easy reading.  I certainly learned one or two new things but, in the main, the scenes and people were comfortably familiar.  I recommend it to anyone in our community who wants to enjoy several 'I remember that' moments or to those others who would like to find out a bit more about life in the RN in general and in the CD branch in particular over three very active decades.


Don's book is available direct from the publisher here:


or via Amazon at:


9 Jul 19 - Award of LS&GC


Congratulations to WO1(D) Lee 'Eddie' Yates and WO1(D) Dave Merridue on being gazetted for the award of the 2nd Clasp to the Naval Long Service & Good Conduct Medal, WO1(D) Nick Frost for the award of the 1st Clasp and CPO(MW) Jay Buckley for the award of the Naval LS&GC Medal.


5 Jul 19 - Recent tweets     


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


COMUKMCMFOR (Commander UK MCM Force in Bahrain for Operation KIPION)


29 Jun 2019 - We are proud to support our Armed Forces and all who sail with us!



29 Jun 2019 - Happy Armed Forces Day 2019 from the UK’s Mine Counter Measures Force.  A salute to all the Men and Women of the Royal Navy deployed on Operations.


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


HMS Brocklesby (MCM2 Crew 8)


17 Jun 2019 - It was a pleasure to welcome our colleagues 'The Poachers' and crew from USS DEXTROUS on board for a tour this week, all supporting CTF 152 in the Gulf.



HMS Chiddingfold (MCM2 Crew 2)


4 Jul 2019 - Our Mine Warfare Department took some well-deserved time for a team building day today.  All were tall enough for every ride!



HMS Grimsby (MCM1 Crew 3)


26 Jun 2019 - There are few better places to be on a morning like this... Summer comes to Scotland!



HMS Ledbury (MCM2 Crew 1)


30 Jun 2019 - A massive thank you to Bath Rugby for your generosity while HMS Ledbury is deployed in the Arabian Gulf as part of the UK’s commitment to the region!  Some very happy Bath Rugby supporters on board!



29 Jun 2019 - We are proud to support our Armed Forces!



17 Jun 2019 - A massive congratulations to the Hunt class MCMVs in their victory over Sandown class MCMVs.  With 15 of the 22 man squad in our ships company we are rugby champions!  Well done team!


HMS Middleton (MCM2 Crew 3)


3 Jul 2019 - Members of the ship's Crew 3 representing HMNB Portsmouth in the Eastern Region RN Cricket 6's competition today at HMS TEMERAIRE.


17 Jun 2019 - Thank you Falmouth Town UK for a brilliant weekend!  Our CO presented prizes to Fal Classics race winners, and HMS Trumpeter & HMS Biter looked great at the front of the parade of sail and power.



17 Jun 2019 - We'll work on our shanty-singing and rowing skills for next time...



HMS Pembroke (MCM1 Crew 5)


22 Jun 2019 - Just because PEMBROKE is out of the water in an upgrade period, doesn’t mean we are!  Here our divers keep their skills sharp conducting pool drills before heading out to dive at sea.



HMS Ramsey (MCM1 Crew 2)


30 Jun 2019 - The White Ensign flies over the BBQ which is in full swing celebrating Armed Forces Day 2019 as well as our success on NATO operations.  HMS Ramsey will return to HMNB Clyde this week for a mid-deployment stand-down.



30 Jun 2019 - We are truly blessed to be based at HMNB Clyde in Scotland with views like this.  We have chosen Lamlash Bay off Arran to have our Armed Forces Day 2019 BBQ.


30 Jun 2019 - Happy belated Armed Forces Day 19 from HMS Ramsey to all our fellow service men and women.  We had to delay our celebrations until this evening as we return from our NATO tasking.  However we are now at anchor and the BBQ is lit!


29 Jun 2019 - HMS Ramsey ensuring we remain safe at sea despite being on our way back to HMNB Clyde.  This morning we conducted a man overboard exercise.


28 Jun 2019 - Great to see our Belgian friends in BNS BELLIS are home safe.  It has been a pleasure to work with you as part of SNMCMG1.


28 Jun 2019 - HMS Ramsey's Executive Officer enjoying his first breath of Scottish air as the ship heads towards her home port of HMNB Clyde.


28 Jun 2019 - LAND HO!  HMS Ramsey sees the UK for the first time in nearly three months.  We’re counting down the days until mid-deployment leave.


26 Jun 2019 - The sun is out in the Kiel Canal today.  Having successfully completed BALTOPS 2019 with our NATO allies, HMS Ramsey is returning to HMNB Clyde for a mid-deployment stand-down.



20 Jun 2019 - SNMCMG1 clearing a WW2 depth charge in the Baltic Sea this morning.  HMS Ramsey and her NATO partners have conducted a period of historic ordnance disposal during the final phase of BALTOPS 2019.


20 Jun 2019 - LIVE UPDATE: HMS Ramsey with our NATO partners about to detonate historic ordnance which has been found during BALTOPS 2019.


20 Jun 2019 - LIVE UPDATE: It went off with a bang!



20 Jun 2019 - HMS Ramsey's Executive Officer had a go at slipping the anchor this evening.  We didn’t think he had the muscles but he managed it!


19 Jun 2019 - HMS Ramsey's clearance divers submerge below the waves during BALTOPS 2019.  We have spent the last 10 days with our NATO MCM partners clearing the way for the rest of the task group.


18 Jun 2019 - HMS Ramsey continues clearing the waters of BALTOPS 2019 ensuring our NATO partners at sea remain safe.  Guess who has taken another break from the engine room?  ETME Dunster!


18 Jun 2019 - Yet more hard work by our engineers on HMS Ramsey.  This time ET(WE) Purves is conducting routine maintenance on our GPMGs during BALTOPS 2019 ensuring we are ready to defend ourselves and our NATO partners.


15 Jun 2019 - HMS Exploit and HMS Archer were no match for HMS Ramsey during a simulated fast attack craft assault.  Acting as the enemy, the two P2000s tried to disrupt the MCM effort during BALTOPS 2019.



15 Jun 2019 - HMS Ramsey conducting MCM operations during BALTOPS 2019 alongside our MCM Denmark partners and their unmanned drone.  The UK is investigating similar systems which are in trial stage.


13 Jun 2019 - HMS Ramsey completes another Seafox mission on BALTOPS 2019 with some skillful driving by the LCO.  Yet again another wholeship effort with ETME Dunster taking a break from the engine room to help on the fibre optic wire.


13 Jun 2019 - Our success on NATO operations would not happen without the hard work of HMS Ramsey’s engineers.  Here our youngest Engineering Technician, ETME Dunster is carrying out routine maintenance on our engines during BALTOPS 2019.


13 Jun 2019 - Teamwork makes the dream work on HMS Ramsey.  No matter which branch badge you wear, everyone gets involved with Seafox.  We are conducting mine hunting operations as part of BALTOPS 2019 along with our NATO partners.


HMS Shoreham (MCM1 Crew 7)


29 Jun 2019 - We are proud to support our Armed Forces!



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


4 Jul 2019 - MASTT are spread to the four corners this week!  The team are at HMS Collingwood to support the 1SL Senior Warrant Officers' Conference, on RN Sweep Demonstrator Trials in Weymouth and on Minelaying Tasks in Scotland with the RN Minelaying Unit and the Proj WILTON Team.



4 Jul 2019 - Views from the RN Sweep Demonstrator being put to the test in Weymouth Bay, this week.


4 Jul 2019 - Beautiful mornings this week in Sweep Optimisation Trials, in Bincleaves, Weymouth.  The site, formerly an old Torpedo Test Facility, is now owned and run by Atlas Elektronik UK (AEUK).  Ironically there are also reminders of the old RN Minesweeping days scattered around the site.  [See entry for 17 Jun 19 in News Archive 66]



27 Jun 2019 - Go Cobra Go, Go!!  M500 ROV “Nailing” the target with the attached COBRA system.


27 Jun 2019 - BULLSEYE!  MASTT and Project WILTON teams hit the sweet spot during their M500 ROV Training Course with Atlantis Marine, at Bincleaves Weymouth.



21 Jun 2019 - A model of the REMUS 100 New Generation AUV, at MASTT for the team to study, to help broaden the Team’s systems knowledge.



4 Jul 19 - NDG called to suspicious device on Lewis


The Hebrides News website contains this article reporting that a Royal Navy explosive ordnance disposal unit, presumably from Faslane-based Northern Diving Group (NDG), has disposed of an unidentified explosive device found at a property in Breasclete on Lewis on Monday 1 July.


3 Jul 19 - RN Diving Heritage: Hong Kong 1983


I am grateful to MCDOA member Geoff Goodwin for this contribution:



"Hi Rob,


Here’s a dit for you.


Diving from the USS BEAUFORT in Hong Kong 


The USS BEAUFORT visited Hong Kong periodically to provide an R&R opportunity for her Ship’s Company.  At the same time, being fitted with a recompression chamber, she provided a work-up facility for the RN Hong Kong Clearance Diving Unit.  


In 1983, this involved the ship coming to a four point moor over (spookily) the Beaufort Deep in 54 meters depth.  The RN Divers were then kitted out in US Mk 12 equipment and were hoisted over the side on a cradle and lowered to the diving depth, working down to 50 meters over two days and using USN tables. This all seemed to take an inordinate amount of time, with much shouting and tribal chants by the USN sailors/technicians led by their Master Chief Diver.


Dan Archer and Geoff Goodwin


Bob Oulds enjoying seeing the Boss being bolted in


Leaving surface


At 50 meters the visibility was zero but as we were hauled to the surface on completion of the dive, as the visibility cleared on ascent, I could see my buddy looking as if he had grown very long grey hair from head to toe, having picked up masses of tendrils from unseen passing Portuguese Men o’ War.


On the third day, with the chamber at immediate notice, the Unit carried out a mine hunting dive down to 54 meters using CDBA.  We completed our dives before our USN colleagues realised we’d even begun.






From MCDOA member Bob Lusty:


"I enjoyed Geoff's story.  It brought back memories of Panama City in the USA with Bryan Barrett who was charged to bring that particular diving system into service.  It was one small step beyond standard dress.


Geoff looks in good nick in his sailing kit.  It is really good to see.


Best Regards,




2 Jul 19 - RN Clearance divers sent to the Gulf


The Sun News website contains this article announcing that " bomb disposal divers from the Fleet Diving Squadron have been sent to the UAE to investigate blast damage on the tankers and mine debris" last month following  suspected Iranian mine strikes on two oil tankers.


The Portsmouth News website contains this article, covering the same story, which also features MCDOA member Al Nekrews QGM, CO of the Fleet Diving Squadron (FDS).


1 Jul 19 - Project Vernon features in Navy News


The July issue of Navy News contains the article shown below about the MCDOA's adopted charity, Project Vernon, the campaign to erect a monument next year at Gunwharf Quays, the former site of HMS Vernon in Portsmouth.  The monument will honour all those - past, present and future - involved with minewarfare, diving and EOD. 



The article also mentions your humble Vice Chairman & Webmaster in connection with the latest fundraising venture.



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