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

26 Apr 18 - More news from HMS Ledbury


HMS Ledbury (MCM2 Crew 5) has tweeted these messages:


26 Apr 18 - MCM2 Crew 5 in HMS Ledbury were delighted to welcome Captain Mine Warfare Diving and Fishery Protection and Warrant Officer Naval Service onboard.  Capt MFP took the opportunity to present awards and a Long Service and Good Conduct Medal.


Capt MFP (MCDOA President Roger Readwin) presenting LS&GC medal to PO(D) Gavin Speer


26 Apr 18 - Royal Marines from 42 Commando embarked in HMS Ledbury for Force Protection Exercises.  Maritime Security while at sea on Defence Ops in the Gulf.


26 Apr 18 - In recognition for their hard work, the CO of HMS Ledbury has awarded crew members during Defence Ops in the Gulf - Engineer of the month is Eng Tech (WE) Skelly, Warfare of the month is AB(MW) Dore and the Wholeship Award to PO(D) Speer.


AB(MW) Dore receiving his Warfare of the Month award from the CO of HMS Ledbury


Click on the linked dates to see all associated images.


25 Apr 18 - Recent tweets


Click on the linked dates to see the many excellent photos and videos associated with the tweets:


Capt MFP


19 Apr 18 - Welcoming home Crew 8 in HMS CATTISTOCK this week was a timely reminder of the first class support our families & friends deliver to the Naval Service - thank you to you all.


Commander SNMCMG2


23 Apr 18 - Sailing from La Spezia with Automomous Underwater Vehicles and scientists from NATO Centre for Maritime Science and Experimentation (CMRE) embarked. The vehicles carry sonars to detect mines on the seabed and can send back data during the mission.


HMS Bangor


24 Apr 18 - Officer of the watch manoeuvres help Royal Navy personnel to develop their ship handling skills.  Here HMS Bangor operates in close company with the Qatari Navy ship Huwar, testing the ship's handling and communications.  A highly successful visit to Qatar.


24 Apr 18 - Qatari Navy sailors were welcomed on board HMS Bangor for training serials and capability tours - part of the Ship's mission to promote regional stability and enhance relations with UK's partners/allies promoting partnerships.  A mini reunion too.


23 Apr 18 - 10 of the ship's company attended the Royal Naval Association (RNA) Qatar, St George's and RAF100 Ball.  Thank you very much to the RNA for a fantastic evening, everyone had an amazing time.



23 Apr 18 -  The view from HMS Bangor at 0500 as she prepared to go alongside in Doha ahead of an exciting Defence Engagement visit.


HMS Brocklesby


21 Apr 18 - 5 weeks later BROC has passed OST!  Thank you FOST.  BROC Back To Business firing HMG.


HMS Middleton


24 Apr 18 - Weapons Engineers from HMS Middleton preparing the 30mm cannon for a practice firing.  Engineers working hard in the Year Of The Engineer to ensure the gun goes bang if it needs to.


23 Apr 18 - Marine Engineering Technicians from HMS Middleton working in 40 degree heat in the engine room to conduct repairs on the high pressure air compressor.


HMS Enterprise


24 Apr 18 - Meet MUSCLE and BLACK CAT. They look a bit like torpedoes, but they are actually sophisticated underwater minehunting vehicles belonging to CMRE, the NATO marine scientific research body.  If we innovate, we can take the sailor out of the minefield.  Dare To Think Different.



Navy Lookout


23 Apr 18 - RN Mine Countermeasures Vessels working exceptionally hard - 9 out of 13 deployed.


HMS Pembroke, Shoreham, Hurworth, Brocklesby, Ramsey on Joint Warrior.  HMS Bangor, Blyth, Ledbury & Middleton in the Gulf. 


HMS Cattistock only just home from a NATO Baltic deployment.


Ian Cameron


22 Apr 18 - HMS Pembroke M-107 passing Gourock outbound from Faslane for start of Joint Warrior.


24 Apr 18 - HMS Ledbury celebrates Queen's 92nd birthday in Bahrain


HMS Ledbury (MCM2 Crew 5) has tweeted this message:


24 Apr 18 - A proud moment.  HMS Ledbury performs ceremonial sunset at the British Embassy in Bahrain to honour Her Majesty the Queen’s 92nd birthday.



Click on the linked date to see all associated images.


23 Apr 18 - Death of Lt Cdr Brian Dutton DSO QGM RN


I regret to report that MCDOA member Brian Dutton passed away at about 1800 this evening.  He had been ill for some time.


Brian Dutton with Prince Harry at the Vernon Monument 'Falklands 35' Dinner

at Trinity House last July 


On 29 April 1975, Brian was gazetted for the award of the QGM (Queen's Gallantry Medal) for gallantry:


Lieutenant Dutton, the Officer-in-Charge of the Portsmouth and Medway Clearance Diving Team and Leading Seaman Brett, a member of the Portsmouth and Medway Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team, boarded the Suction Dredger THE SOLENT moored off Felixstowe at 2100 on 3rd August 1974 to investigate a mine which was immovably jammed in the vessel's drag head.  The mine, a Ground Type GD, is the most difficult and dangerous to render safe of all the types used by the Germans in World War II.  Because of the location and condition in which the mine was discovered, the normal procedure for rendering the mine safe was not possible.


After Lieutenant Dutton had organised the evacuation of non-essential personnel from the dredger, he and Leading Seaman Brett commenced the difficult task of removing the mine from the vessel's drag head.  The damage to the fuse in the dredging operation prevented identification and normal defusing procedure. Although aware that the fuse might be in a highly dangerous state, Lieutenant Dutton and Leading Seaman Brett continued with the task until the mine was eventually freed, lowered to the sea-bed and detonated at 0205 the following morning.


Lieutenant Dutton's skill and calm efficiency and Leading Seaman Brett's courage and devotion to duty during the prolonged operation were in the highest tradition of the Service.


On 8 October 1982, Brian was gazetted for the award of the DSO (Distinguished Service Order) in recognition of service during operations in the South Atlantic.


During Argentinean air attacks on 21st May 1982 HMS ARGONAUT was struck by a 1000 Ib bomb which did not explode.  The bomb caused extensive damage and lodged between two missiles in the forward magazine where it was also surrounded by damaged and extremely dangerous ordnance.  Lieutenant Commander Dutton, as Officer in Charge of Fleet Clearance Diving Team 1 was tasked to remove the bomb.  He decided that it was too dangerous to defuse in situ. Instead he took the decision to lift the bomb from the magazine and hoist it overboard.  The task proved extremely complex and hazardous requiring clearance of ammunition from the magazine and cutting through sections of the ship's structure.  The operation took the team seven days during which HMS ARGONAUT came under further air attacks.  The slightest jar or disturbance to the precise lifting angle would have resulted in an explosion which would almost certainly have caused the loss of the ship.


In spite of these difficulties the bomb was successfully removed, largely due to the skill and ingenuity of Lieutenant Commander Dutton. He displayed staunch determination, steadfastness and courage of the highest order.


Apart from being a former colleague and a staunch supporter of MCDOA activities, Brian was a great family friend whom I first met in the early 1970s while his previous spouse Dorothy was still alive.  Having joined the Royal Navy as a sailor, he accomplished much as a rating and officer.  After leaving, he was Mayor of Petersfield and an East Hampshire County Councillor while performing much charity work, including donating and raising funds towards the erection of the Vernon Minewarfare & Diving Monument.  I have talked with his widow Audrey and will be publishing further information after visiting her.  In the meantime, I have offered her our community's deepest condolences.


Brian & Audrey Dutton with grandson at an MCDOA Barbecue on Horsea Island in July 2005


From Vice Admiral Russ Crane AO CSM RAN, former Chief of the Royal Australian Navy:




Thank you for letting us know about Brian.  I remember him well both from his time in Australia and my time with the RN.  He was an outstanding man in all respects.  I certainly held his dedication and professionalism in matters diving and EOD in high regard.


He did an outstanding job during the Falklands campaign.  He will be greatly missed by all who knew him.


RIP Brian Dutton. Your job is done.


Russ Crane"


From MCDOA member Doug Barlow:


"Dear Rob,


I thank you for your in-depth account of Brian's incredible service career.  We both started out at T S Arethusa and our paths crossed many times throughout our service careers.


My thoughts and condolences go out to Audrey and the family at this sad time.




From MCDOA past-President Colin Welborn:


"Dear Rob,


Deeply saddened to hear of Brian’s death.  It really marks the end of a significant chapter in the Branch's history.


What a remarkable man: THE consummate Professional and true gentleman who inspired a generation, including me, to simply be the best you can.  In later years he was also a very wise counsel for many.


He will be greatly missed.  My thoughts and prayers are very much with his family at this time.


Take care.


Warmest regards,




By Brian's son Frank:


"Last night our father crossed the bar.


Lt Cdr Brian Frank Dutton DSO, QGM.


He joined the Royal Navy as a boy and at 16 was serving in HMS Belfast in 'A' gun turret during the Korean War.  He changed branches to become a Club Swinger, rising to POPTI when he took and passed his maths and English 'O' levels and went SD.  At the time we’d lived at Lossiemouth and Arbroath.  A move to Portsmouth followed.  He then served in Bulwark and Albion.


Promotion in the PT branch was dead men's shoes so he changed branches and became an MCDO.  He absolutely loved his mine clearance diving work and earned a QGM for a particularly nasty German mine trapped in the jaws of a dredging craft off Felixstowe.  He was twice I/C Portsmouth and Medway MCD unit. 


In 1982 he received his redundancy notice, MCDOs no longer required.  Then the Falklands happened.  Redundancy notice in hand he and his team went to the South Atlantic.  There they disposed of 8+ bombs dropped into our ships which failed to detonate.  The worst was on the Argonaut.  It took over five days to remove.  For this he received the DSO.


He came back and was made redundant.


Post-Falklands, he once came down to Conqueror and admitted he could not think of being in boats.


He was also wheelman on several occasions for Chatham Field Gun Team in the 1950s.


RIP Dad"


From MCDOA member Steve Gobey:


"Hi Rob,


Sad news indeed. Brian took over the RAN diving exchange job in Sydney from me in 1976.  It has always been a pleasure catching up with him at the MCDOA Dinners in the years since.  A true professional and gentleman.  He will be missed.


RIP Brian, it has been an honour to know you.


Talking of Oz, glad you had a great time Down Under and it was good to see the Diving School still looks shiny new and so does Taff!  Brought back fond memories of my visit.


Hope you’ve managed to catch up on the Bob Hawkins Sunday Evening Shows on BBC2!






From MWA Chairman Dixie Dean MBE:




So very sorry to read the sad news of Brian’s passing, a very sad day indeed.  


I knew Brian during my time in the Royal Navy and while I never worked for him directly, our paths crossed on many occasions more so lately during events for the Vernon Monument.  When I organised the various fundraising events in the early days of Project Vernon, Brian was always a volunteer to assist in whatever we did irrespective of the venue.  I found him to be a very kind and caring man who was an avid supporter of the project and what I would call an ‘old school MCD’ who gained the respect of those who met him or worked with him.


Both as Chairman of the MWA and on a personal level, please pass on my sincere condolences to all his family and close friends.


Kite Down.


Best Regards,




22 Apr 18 - Exercise JOINT WARRIOR begins


HMS Pembroke (MCM1 Crew 5) has tweeted these images of MCMVs off Scotland at the start of the most recent Exercise JOINT WARRIOR




The BBC website has published this article confirming that only one JOINT WARRIOR will take place this year (23 April to 3 May).  The exercise has evolved from the thrice-yearly Joint Maritime Course (JMC) which subsequently became NEPTUNE WARRIOR.


21 Apr 18 - German Navy acquiring new MCMVs


The website contains this article announcing that the German Navy intends acquiring 11 new minehunters for its Kiel-based 3rd Minesweeping Squadron.  The vessels would be ordered from 2022 for delivery from 2027. 


Ships of the German 3rd Minesweeping Squadron at Kiel Naval Base 


20 Apr 18 - SDU1 deals with grenade in Tavistock


The Princeton Times Gazette website contains this article reporting last Saturday's removal by members of Plymouth-based Southern Diving Unit 1 (SDU1) of a hand grenade left in a woman's bedroom drawer by an ex-partner.  It transpired that the detonator had been removed.



19 Apr 18 - Death of Sandy Sanderson


The death has been reported of Sandy Sanderson (aka Custodian) whom many will remember as running the EOD Technical Information Centre (EODTIC otherwise known as IDIOTIC) at the Defence Explosive Ordnance Disposal School (DEODS) at Chattenden in Kent.  He had been ill with cancer for some time and finally succumbed on Tuesday night.


I long relied on Sandy for his friendly advice and valuable information, both while serving and afterwards.  In November 2009, he attended the Ouvry 70th Anniversary Commemorative Event on board HMS Belfast and is seen standing third right in this group (see entry for 27 Nov 09 in News Archive 28):



I am sure that all members of our community will join me in expressing our sincere condolences to Sandy's family, close friends and former colleagues.  I will publish funeral arrangements as and when they become available.


18 Apr 18 - HMS Cattistock returns from Baltic


The Royal Navy website contains this article and the Portsmouth News this article (including video) covering yesterday's homecoming of HMS Cattistock (MCM2 Crew 8) from her four-month deployment in the Baltic with Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1 (SNMCMG1).  MCDOA member Charlie Wheen was superseded by Lt Cdr Chris Hollingworth as Commanding Officer in Antwerp a fortnight ago. 


I was on the Round Tower to help welcome Cattistock home:



While awaiting Cattistock's arrival, I chatted with Vanessa Silcock, mother of James Silcock, the ship's Navigating Officer.  I last saw James when Charlie Wheen hosted MCDOA member Pat Gale (Cattistock's first CO) and me (sister ship Berkeley's first CO) for lunch on board in December (see entry for 12 Dec 17 in News Archive 61). 



Vanessa is married to Cdre Chris Silcock CBE (ex-HMS Bickington) and I later realised that we had met previously at Thorney Island Sailing Club.  In 1982, I was at HMS Vernon when her brother, Rear Admiral Chris Snow CBE DL, underwent his MCMG course before joining HMS Shavington and in 1993 I was his MCMG (CO desig) Course Officer before he assumed Command of HMS Atherstone.  


17 Apr 18 - SDU1 deals with live ammunition in Cornwall


The Cornwall Live website contains this article and the Plymouth Herald website this article reporting Sunday's securing by members of Plymouth-based Southern Diving Unit 1 (SDU1) of a box of live ammunition found on the shoreline at Vault Beach, Gorran Haven in Cornwall.


Postscript; The Plymouth Herald website has since published this article warning the public to be vigilant.


16 Apr 18 - RN, RCN and USN minewarfare in the First World War


The richly illustrated 428 page paperback 'Home Waters - RN, RCN and USN Mine Forces Battling U-Boats in World War I', co-authored by your humble Webmaster and containing a foreword by MCDOA past-President Rear Admiral Paddy McAlpine CBE, is now available from the USA via Heritage Books or at a cost of $74.99 (currently £52.69) including overseas P&P.  The book contains a lengthy section on the history of HMS Vernon, including illustrations, and the significance of the Vernon Minewarfare & Diving Monument.


Alternatively, email me via my Webmaster address and I will send you a copy, inscribed if desired, on receipt of £30, including UK P&P.  I will donate £10 towards the Vernon Monument for each copy purchased.



Read Paddy McAlpine's foreword, among others, via my co-author's webpage here:


Postscript: I am extremely grateful to Bob Hind of the Portsmouth News for publishishing this mention of 'Home Waters' in his Nostalgia column on 18 April.




15 Apr 18 - MCDOs 'Down Under'



Your humble webmaster has just returned from the east coast of Australia where I was privileged to be shown around the new ADF Diving School at HMAS Penguin at Balmoral in Sydney Harbour thanks to old friend Dennis 'Taff' Sweeney.  Taff left the RAN in December 2011 after 50 years in naval uniform: 24 years as a CD and MCDO in the RN and 26 years as an MCDO in the RAN.  He was largely responsible for the design of the facility which trains Australian Navy and Army divers.  This was his first visit since accompanying retired RN MCDO Steve Gobey, who was on exchange with the RAN in the early 1970s, around the school four years ago (see entry for 25 Feb 14 in News Archive 45). 







Ex-RN WO(D) Darren 'Daz' Smith was called away on duty at the last minute so the school's CIO (Course Implementation Officer) Ryan Davis stepped in to perform the honours.



























Afterwards, Taff and I had a coffee in the nearby Burnt Orange with MCDO Russ Crawford who was an RAN exchange officer at HMS Vernon in the early 1980s and was OIC of the school a couple of years ago. They each made generous contributions towards the Vernon Minewarfare & Diving Monument which I will be passing on.



I was also able to visit the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney and photograph RAN warships at their Garden Island base.













The histories of the RN and RAN minewarfare & diving communities are inextricably entwined and the Aussies treasure our shared heritage just as preciously as their RN counterparts.  Indeed, the RAN Clearance Divers' Association (RANCDA) voted to contribute $500 AUS towards Project Vernon, the MCDOA's adopted charity, at their last AGM.  I am fortunate to have known many pioneers of the RN & RAN Minewarfare & Clearance Diving fraternity and their forebears.  Sadly, most of them have now crossed the bar but I was privileged to exchange books with old friend Cdr Edward ‘Jake’ Linton BEM RAN, one of the original RAN clearance divers who first qualified as an Able Seaman (CD) in Sydney in 1955 and as an MCDO at HMS Vernon in Portsmouth in 1967.  He is now the Patron of the RANCDA.  Also present was David Ramsden who qualified on the LMCDO Course at HMS Vernon in 1967 while in the RN before transferring to the RAN.  We met at the home of RN - RAN transferee Allan Rankin in Mooloolaba, Queensland and drank wine kindly produced and provided by RANCDA President Mick Edwards. 




I provided copies of ‘Home Waters’, which I have co-written by Cdr David Bruhn USN, to Allan, Jake and 1967 LMCDO Course Officer Cdre ‘Hec’ Donohue in exchange for copies of ‘Undaunted - From Clearance Diver to Mercenary’ by Hugh O’Brien and ‘Australian Minesweepers at War’ by Mike Turner and ‘Hec’ Donohue.  They have all served at HMS Vernon in their time, either as RN MCDOs or RAN MCDOs on exchange, and were kind enough to give me donations towards the Vernon Minewarfare & Diving Monument.





Jake Linton and Hec Donohue have also co-written 'United and Undaunted - The First 100 Years' which chronicles the history of the RAN Clearance Diving branch.



At Tweed in New South Wales, I saw the Walk of Remembrance displaying plaques dedicated to ships sunk off the east coast of Australia during the Second World War, including several that were mined.










I am grateful to ex-RAN and RN MCDO Paul Davey and his wife Helen for hosting old RAN MCDO friend Garry Kennedy with his wife Glenda and Claire Ponting (formerly Brereton / Edmunds) with her husband Nick (plus pole-dancing possums) at a riotous barbecue in Greenslopes near Brisbane.




Allan Rankin has a familiar looking miniature among the many naval artefacts on display in his home.




I will backfill the gaps in the news below in due course


14 Apr 18 - Recent tweets


Click on the linked dates to see the many excellent photos and videos associated with the tweets:


Ministry of Defence


9 Apr 18 - Defence Secretary visited Mine Counter Measure Vessels HMS Middleton and HMS Bangor in UAE today, capable of detecting and destroying hidden dangers to allow for safe passage through waters.


Royal Navy


9 Apr 18 - Champion jockey Frankie Detorri spent time with sailors on board the Royal Navy's HMS Ledbury while they are deployed in the Gulf on maritime security duties.


Frankie Detorri


8 Apr 18 - Amazing being shown round by the Royal Navy, thank you guys.


Captain MFP


28 Mar 18 - Mine Countermeasures Vessel team leader Phil Kyte from DES supporting the de-brief to Crew 7 in HMS GRIMSBY on completion of their ready for sea date inspection.  Teamwork key in delivering engineering success.  Thank you for your support Phil & keep up the good work Crew 7


9 Mar 18 - HMS PEMBROKE well done on delivering success at your Ready To Train Assesment.


8 Mar 18 - Well done Crew 6 in HMS HURWORTH on a successful Ready To Train Asessment. Exiting harbour in fog, practicing to defend the ship & finishing with tight ship manoeuvring prepares the RN to deliver success on Operations.  Keep up the good work team. 


8 Mar 18 - And the old classic for lunch.....great work Crew 6 Chefs.


8 Mar 18 - Able Seaman Diver Lindsay delivers a perfect entry into the sea to recover Fred (man overboard dummy).  BZ.


7 Mar 18 - Good to catch up with Southern Diving Unit One based in HM Naval Base Plymouth.  In 2017 unit disposed of 1245 items of ordnance keeping the British Public Safe. Team were busy maintaining dive kit & ready for next call out.  Keep up the good work team.


5 Mar 18 - Needles Channel outbound in HMS CHIDDINGFOLD - bridge team enjoying the Navigation training provided by the picturesque Isle of Wight.  Good to see HMS MERSEY operating close to the Needles delivering Fleet Navigation training.


HMS Bangor


22 Mar 18 - HMS Bangor and HMS Middleton continue diving operations alongside our Kuwaiti partners.  Both units spent the last 10 days in the Gulf flying the White Ensign and strengthening relationships with overseas allies.


22 Mar 18 - HMS Bangor and HMS Middleton continue to strengthen relationships with the Kuwait Navy - conducting diving operations with Kuwaiti and Royal Navy divers!


Capt MFP


22 Mar 18 - Wonderful to see the relationships, partnerships and friendships HMS Bangor and HMS Middleton are forging.  Superb pictures.  Keep up the good work team.


HMS Blyth


9 Apr 18 - On 5 April, a proud moment when sailors from HMS Blyth and HMS Ledbury took part in the Opening Ceremony of the new UK Naval Support Facility in the Gulf.


13 Mar 18 - Enhancing relations with key regional partners.  HMS Blyth and HMS Ledbury hosted members of the Qatari Navy during our recent visit to Qatar.  


HMS Brocklesby


10 Apr 18 - BROC has just completed Week 3 of OST, carrying phase 1 of her Mine Countermeasures Training.  We've been working closely with HMS Shoreham to locate and destroy mines with our primary weapon systems, Royal Navy Clearance Divers and the Seafox!


24 Mar 18 - Great engineers keep ships at sea; a day alongside is a day wasted!


23 Mar 18 - BROC has been very busy during her first week of OST: Winch Exercises with the Coastguard, mooring to a buoy, diving emergencies, fires, floods, fighting 'the enemy' and winning!  Excellent training from FOST.


15 Mar 18 - BROC has arrived at HM Naval Base Clyde and is ready for OST!  Thank you for the glorious welcome Scotland, couldn't have asked for better weather!


13 Mar 18 - 'Half astern both engines, revolutions 200!'  An unusual sight with the ship's wake coming from the bow, not the stern!  Thanks to the Maritime Capability and Trials Staff who came onboard BROC today to put our propulsion plant through its paces.


8 Mar 18 - BROC at sea conducting a Gunex 601 with the 30mm last week.  The aimer switches to rapid fire after he confirms accuracy.  Although known as a 'small ship', MCMVs pack a powerful punch!


HMS Cattistock


11 Mar 18 - Crew 8 onboard HMS CATTISTOCK would like to wish all their mothers a very Happy Mothers Day!


7 Mar 18 - HMS Cattistock helps to clears mines near Oslo after a two-week hunt for unexploded WW2 ordnance in the waters around Norway's capital city


HMS Ledbury


11 Apr 18 - A massive thank you to Tickets 4 Troops for securing tickets to the Bahraini F1 Grand Prix for sailors from HMS Ledbury deployed on operations in the Gulf.  A truly amazing spectacle and AB1(MW) Liam Dore managed to bag a selfie with Lewis Hamilton. 


9 Apr 18 - A proud moment as sailors from HMS Blyth and HMS Ledbury take part in the Opening Ceremony of the new UK Naval Support Facility in the Gulf.


HMS Blyth


10 Apr 18 - Excellent to see the Timelapse video of the UK NSF opening parade where Crew from HMSBlyth and HMSLedbury took part.


3 Apr 18 - Divers from HMS Ledbury using the Clearance Diver Life Support Equipment (CDLSE) during recent operations at sea in the Gulf.


3 Apr 18 - Engineering Technician (Marine Engineering) Mitchell conducting routine maintenance and checks on HMS Ledbury's engines.


13 Mar 18 - Enhancing relations with key regional partners HMS Blyth and HMS Ledbury hosted members of the Qatari Navy during our recent visit to Qatar.


HMS Middleton


12 Apr 18 - HMS Bangor and HMS Middleton proud to host Gavin Williamson, UK Secretary of State for Defence, on board to demonstrate the MCM capability the Royal Navy maintains in the Middle East 365 days a year.


10 Apr 18 - Engineering Technicians from HMS Middleton carry out checks and performance readings of the propulsion system with supervision and mentoring of the on-watch Leading Engineering Technician.


28 Mar 18 - After a long period on operations HMS Middleton gets alongside.  Now for the Marine Engineers to crack on with some essential work from hourly diesel maintenance to routine oil changes, starting with connecting the ship to the shore supply!


25 Mar 18 - Job done!  HMS Bangor and HMS Middleton complete a fortnight of successful Defence Engagement and Survey Operations at sea, working closely with fellow Kuwaiti Navy Divers.


16 Mar 18 -  The crews of HMS Bangor and HMS Middleton training alongside their counterparts from Kuwait.


HMS Pembroke


23 Mar 18 - Well, it’s been a busy few months: maintenance, RN ski championships, many courses, FOST training, operations and finally a week of helping train the next generation of Mine Warfare specialists, but now it’s time for a well earned break and enjoy some leave with our families!


23 Mar 18 - Well done HMNB Clyde; proud that two of our team could represent and help win this trophy!  Sport and fitness are all vital for a life in the Royal Navy and staying Navy Fit is important, not only for health - it makes us better at our jobs!


22 Mar 18 - Well done to AB(MW) Gourlie who starred for the victorious NBC Clyde team in the RN Rugby Cup competition.  It is fantastic to be able to support Navy Fit - it makes such a difference to our team.


Capt MFP


22 Mar 18 - Congratulations to NBC Clyde on winning the Navy Cup last night and a massive BZ to Able Seaman Mine Warfare Gourlie one of the victorious team members.


22 Mar 18 - Training the next generation of Mine Warfare.  Real talent and passion from this team - an impressive bunch and some massive smiles!  You will soon see these keen faces on an MCMV near you, helping support RAdm Paul Halton and Captain MFP in delivering mine warfare capability.


Captain MFP


22 Mar 18 - Congratulations to you all.  Look forward to seeing you in the Fleet.  Remember our MW & Diving Motto ‘we lead where others follow’ - you have join a niche capability delivering unique output for Defence.


14 Mar 18 - Getting ready to go diving.  The team check and double check their equipment, ensuring that everything is perfect before plunging into the deep!  Teamwork is vital in this challenging environment - have you got what it takes to be a Royal Navy diver?


12 Mar 18 - RN Reserve officer from HMS Wildfire SLt Zoe Skells and former Oxford URNU member back onboard for some sea time shortly before undertaking her Mine Warfare course.


9 Mar 18 - Thank you to FOST and Cdr MCM2 for completing our RTA - We’ve been through fog, defended against HMS Charger, tested anchoring procedures and recovered people from the water; all in one day!  Training is vital to ensure we’re ready to deliver for RAdm Paul Halton and Captain MFP.


HMS Penzance


3 Apr 18 - Awards given out to members of MCM1 Crew 1.  Now Acting Leading Hand Rawson and a LS&GC Medal for PO O'Rourke.


Capt MFP


4 Apr 18 - Congratulations PO O’Rourke on the award of your Long Service & Good Conduct Medal.  Richly deserved - BZ.


26 Mar 18 - Second group of international navigation students.  First Class navigation training.


12 Mar 18 - We are delighted to be hosting navigators from Nigeria, Kenya, Lebanon and Vietnam on HMS Penzance.  Working together for safer Oceans!


NATO Maritime Command


12 Apr 18 - Four of the five ships of Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group One (SNMCMG1), HMS Cattistock, HNoMS Otra, HNLMS Mercuur and BNS Narcis as seen from the fifth SNMCMG1 ship, FGS Bad Bevensen while sailing in the North Sea.


RN in Scotland


28 Mar 18 - HMS PENZANCE (MCM1 Crew 1) bids a fond farewell to Stomness and Orkney this morning following a 3-day visit to the islands.


27 Mar 18 - This evening, the Commanding Officer from HMS PENZANCE (MCM1 Crew 1) conducted official calls onboard with the Lord Lieutenant of Orkney, Mr Bill Spence & Orkney Council Convenor Mr Harvey Johnston.


26 Mar 18 - The HQ team, Orkney Police, Orkney Council & media were on the jetty this afternoon to welcome HMS PENZANCE (MCM1 Crew 1) into Stromness for the start of a 3-day visit


26 Mar 18 - Royal Navy Sandown class Minehunter HMS PENZANCE (MCM1 Crew 1) has arrived in Orkney for the start of a 3-day visit.  Stunning Phots taken enroute!


24 Mar 18 - Looking forward to the visit of HMS PENZANCE (MCM1 Crew 1) to Orkney & Stromness on Monday.


Proud of Portsmouth


11 Mar 18 - Au Revoir!  French Naval Ship ‘Croix du Sud’ departing Portsmouth this afternoon.  Tripartite minehunter returning home.


11 Apr 18 - SDU1 deals with suspect ordnance beside Severn Estuary


The South Wales Echo website contains this article describing Monday's investigation of an object found at Porton Grounds near Redwick, presumably by members of Plymouth-based Southern Diving Unit 1 (SDU1).  The object was declared safe.


9 Apr 18 - Frankie Dettori visits HMS Ledbury


The Royal Navy website contains this article reporting a visit by horse racing legend Frankie Dettori to HMS Ledbury (MCM2 Crew 5) in the Gulf.


Frankie Dettori with CO Charles Collins and others on board HMS Ledbury

(RN website photo)


6 Apr 18 -  UK Naval Support Facility opens in Bahrain


The Royal Navy website contains this article reporting the opening by HRH the Duke of York of the UK Naval Support Facility in a ceremony at Mina Salman in Bahrain.  It appears that plans to call the facility HMS Jufair, in recognition of the former base of the 9th MCM Squadron, have been dropped (see entry for 22 Dec 17 in News Archive 60 among others).


The Duke of York inspecting the Guard at the newly opened UKNSF in Bahrain

(RN website photo)


3 Apr 18 - NDG detonates shell at Nairn


The Shropshire Star website contains this article reporting the disposal by members of Faslane-based Northern Diving Group (NDG) of a shell found on the beach at Nairn In the Moray Forth two weeks ago.


2 Apr 18 - SDU2 deals with ordnance in Norfolk


The Eastern Daily Press website contains this article reporting Easter Sunday's disposal, presumably by members of Portsmouth-based Southern Diving Unit 2 (SDU2), of ordnance discovered on the beach of a Nature Reserve at Holme Dunes in Norfolk.


1 Apr 18 - SDU1 detonates mines off Guernsey


The BBC website contains this article and the Bailiwick Express website this article reporting the disposal, presumably by members of Plymouth-based Southern Diving Unit 1 (SDU1), of two Second World War UK ground mines off Guernsey


29 Mar 18 - Award of LS&GC


Congratulations to WO(D) Keith Satchwell, CPO(MW) Antony 'Pinta' Beer, CPO(MW) P Davies, CPO(D) Gary Waring and PO(D) S W Clark on being gazetted for the award of the first clasp to the Long Service & Good Conduct Medal and to PO(D) G. C. Rudkin, PO(D) Gavin Speer and LS(D) Tim Chudley on being gazetted for the award of the Long Service & Good Conduct Medal.


26 Mar 18 - Activities of HMS Penzance


The Royal Navy website contains this article reporting that HMS Penzance (MCM1 Crew 1) has helped train ten trainees from Vietnam, Belize, Barbados, Jordon, Jamaica, Kenya and Lebanon during a recent two-week period off Scotland.


International trainee navigators on board HMS Penzance

(RN website photo)


The Royal Navy website also contains this article announcing a visit by HMS Penzance to Stromness in Orkney from 26 to 28 March.


12 Mar 18 - Award of LS&GC


Congratulations to CPO(D) Mark Hope on being gazetted for the award of the second clasp to the Long Service & Good Conduct Medal and to PO(MW) Alan Innes on being gazetted for the award of the Long Service & Good Conduct Medal.


8 Mar 18 - MCDO marks International Women's Day


The Royal Navy website contains this article announcing that MCDO Catherine Ker, serving at the Defence Diving School (DDS) on Horsea Island, has helped mark INternational Women's Day.  In 2010, Catherine was the first woman to qualify on the MCDO course and has since deployed to the Gulf as the XO of a Sandown class MCMV and taught a new generation of Royal Navy divers.


Lt Cdr Catherine Ker at DDS

(RN website photo)


7 Mar 18 - HMS Cattistock clears historical ordnance around Oslo


The Royal Navy website contains this article reporting that HMS Cattistock (MCM2 Crew 8 commanded by MCDOA member Charlie Wheen) has found more than ten Second World War mines and torpedoes off Oslo during a concerted two-week search with Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1 (SNMCMG1).  In all, 27 mines and four torpedoes were found by the group with the Brits accounting for more than one third of the haul.






Officially adopted by the MCDOA, AORNFCD, MWA, TCA and now the RNCDA.  We have even received a $500 AUS grant from the RANCDA.  Join our Facebook group here:


Project Vernon - The Mine Warfare & Diving Monument


2 Mar 18 - Recent tweets


Click on the linked dates for all associated photos:


HMS Pembroke


28 Feb 18 - Formal training has commenced as we welcome on board a team from FOST to put us through our paces.  It’s a chilly start as the ‘beast from the East’ bites, but that’s not going to stop us.  Hardy sailors getting on with it.




HMS Brocklesby


1 Mar 18 - Mess Dinner held in the Wardroom on board BROC last night in honour of Navs and Guns 'striping up' to Lieutenant Royal Navy. Fantastic evening with great support from the logistics team who are also first aiders, machine gun aimers and drive the ship!



28 Feb 18 - Thanks to our new followers for welcoming us to Twitter, including COMPORFLOT who came on board yesterday to present his first Commendation to our DWEO (Deputy Weapon Engineering Officer) for his recent hard work.  Well deserved.



Lt Adam Colman RAN (XO HMS Pembroke)


28 Feb 18 - The ‘Beast from the East’ hasn’t stopped the future small ship XOs gaining essential knowledge at HMS Raleigh before returning to front line ships.





1 Mar 18


Si Kelly pays tribute at Scapa Flow


I am grateful to Lt Cdr Matt Cox, the ship's WEO, for this press release from the Type 23 frigate HMS Westminster commanded by MCDOA member Si Kelly:



HMS Westminster Specialist Navigator Training


The Specialist Navigator Course or SpecN, is the Royal Navy’s most advanced navigation course, where navigators are trained to not only navigator a warship, but an entire task group.  


Instead of using a whole task group the course is taught on a frigate at high speed in challenging waterways, close to land to simulate the pressures the navigators will experience when using these skills for many ships.  


HMS Westminster, with her two Rolls-Royce Spey gas turbines and capable of over 28 knots is the ideal platform for such training and returning from operating in the extreme cold of the Arctic is already familiar with challenging navigation.  


The SpecN course has taken HMS Westminster to the striking fjords of Norway, to the desolate beauty of the Shetlands and on to the historic Scapa Flow in the Orkneys.  


The Weapon Engineer Officer of HMS Westminster, Lieutenant Commander Matthew Cox RN, said, “It has been a real privilege to see some of the UK’s most beautiful coastline and wildlife.  In an attempt to find new and challenging routes, the SpecN course has taken HMS Westminster to some of the hidden gems that warships don’t routinely get to visit.”  


Once home to the Royal Navy’s World War II Home Fleet, Scapa Flow was witness to one of the first U-Boat sinkings of the War.  On 14 October 1939, U-47 raided Scapa Flow and successfully sank the battleship HMS Royal Oak, with 833 of her 1,400 man crew lost.  Seventy nine years later, the Ship’s Company of HMS Westminster took the opportunity of a few hours at anchor in Scapa Flow to remember those lost.






The Commanding Officer of HMS Westminster, Commander Simon P Kelly Royal Navy said, “Having had the great honour of previously accompanying the Naval Diving Unit responsible for the laying of a White Ensign every year on the wreck of HMS Royal Oak, it has been an absolute privilege to return to Scapa Flow in Command of HMS Westminster and hold a service to remember the 833 sailors who lost their lives far from home in the Service of their country”.  


Although conducting training, HMS Westminster remains the Fleet Ready Escort, a platform at high readiness to respond to any incident in UK waters.  Last month HMS Westminster was called upon to escort a Russian task group through the English Channel, but missions can range from maritime security, to search and rescue or even counter terrorism.

Postscript: The Navy News website has since published this article covering the same story.

Sandowns in the snow


It's snowing at Faslane:



(RN photos by LPhot Pepe Hogan, FRPU North)


28 Feb 18 - Graduation of AB(MW) Course 1702


Congratulations to instructor Phil Mayer and the successful members of AB(MW) Course 1702 who recently qualified at the Maritime Warfare School, HMS Collingwood.



AB(MW) Course 1702 at HMS Collingwood


27 Feb 18 - A tweet from HMS Brocklesby


HMS Brocklesby (MCM2 Crew 3) has tweeted that she has joined the 'Twittersphere' and is preparing to deploy to the Gulf this summer.


MCM2 Crew 3 on board HMS Brocklesby


26 Feb 18 - A trip down Memory Lane


Your humble Webmaster had an an enjoyable session with journalist and author Bob Hind at fellow MCDOA member Doug Barlow's cottage in Emsworth today.  Bob writes the 'Nostalgia' column for the Portsmouth News and is a keen supporter of the RN minewarfare & diving community in general and the Vernon Monument in particular.


Bob Hind flanked by Doug Barlow and Rob Hoole


Over the years, Bob has written many articles featuring (or at least mentioning) HMS Vernon including:


NOSTALGIA: Full of atmosphere – Commercial Road in the 1950s


Most Portsmouth people over a certain age will have heard of HMS Vernon


From mine warfare to a mine of shopping and leisure facilities in Portsmouth


Shipspotters put my knowledge to shame


Leigh Park House is long gone, but not forgotten


Names may change but the roads stay the same


Remembering the women of Portsmouth who did their duty in the First World War


Portsmouth power station dominated the skyline of the old town


25 Feb 18 - RN Diving Heritage: Pioneer clearance diver's biography


Clearance Diving branch legend Eamon 'Ginge' Fullen dropped in today with a copy of the newly published autobiography of Jim 'Guns' Cannon which he has helped Jim produce.  The book, titled 'Chronicles of a Clearance Diver - The First of the Few', is a richly illustrated account of Jim's life from his birth in Portsmouth in 1933, through his early life and his eventful career as a diver in the Royal Navy until 1958 and then in the West Sussex Constabulary until 1990 although he stayed on as a civilian equipment technician until 1998.



Jim joined the Royal Navy at HMS St Vincent as a 15-year-old and served as a Gunnery rating in HMS Vanguard, the Royal Navy's last battleship, and the destroyer HMS Creole before qualifying on CD Course 006 in October 1953 as one of the Royal Navy's earliest clearance divers.  He was subsequently involved in many fascinating incidents which he describes in humorous detail.   Jim was awarded a C-in-C Nore's Commendation as an Able Seaman in 1954 and a Queen's Commendation for Brave Conduct as a police constable in 1969.



Left: Jim Cannon as an AB on the Portland CD Team circa 1955

Right: Jim Cannon's final dive at the age of 65 in 1998


The book should be available via the RNCDA website soon and is thoroughly recommended to anyone with an interest in our community's diving heritage.


24 Feb 18 - Recent Tweets


Click on the linked dates to see all accompanying images:  


Capt MFP


23 Feb 18 - The view from my office!  Welcome back HMS HURWORTH after a busy 10 days shaking down.  Ship preparing to come alongside in a fresh easterly breeze.  Keep up the good work team.



17 Feb 18 - Spare a thought for HMS CATTISTOCK part of Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1 on a three month deployment to the Baltic Sea.  Superb imagery of CATT operating in challenging but equally stunning environmental conditions.  BZ Team.






17 Feb 18 - And thank you HMS CATTISTOCK for providing superb footage demonstrating how Royal Navy Clearance Divers lift a Mine from the seabed using an enclosed mine lifting bag (EMLB)!  Keep up the good work Team on Ops. 


HMS Penzance


23 Feb 18 - HMS Penzance at sea conducting MCM Ops with SLt Imogen Napper RNR from HMS Vivid.



CDT Zr.Ms. Mercuur


22 Feb 18 - Exercising replenishment at sea manoeuvres with HMS Cattistock.



Royal Navy


22 Feb 18 - HMNB Portsmouth based minehunter HMS Hurworth sailed with her new crew (MCM2 Crew 6) for her first extensive period at sea, sailing past friends from home on the way; Type 45 destroyer HMS Dragon and patrol vessel HMS Mersey.



HMS Ledbury


21 Feb 18 - Proud to support the Omani-led exercise, Khunjar Hadd, demonstrating our ability to provide stability and security at sea in the Middle East.




23 Feb 18 - MCMV News


The UK Government website contains this article describing the participation of HMS Middleton (MCM2 Crew 2 commanded by MCDOA member Dan Morris) in Staff Sea Days in Kuwait.  She was accompanied by HMS Blyth (MCM1 Crew 4).







The Naval Today website contains this article reporting that ships of Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1 (SNMCMG1), including HMS Cattistock (MCM2 Crew 8 commanded by MCDOA member Charlie Wheen), have detected a total of 23 mines and four torpedoes during the past two weeks while working with the Royal Norwegian Navy to locate and dispose of Second World War ordnance in Oslo Fjord.


The Norwegian Oksøy class minehunter HNoMS Måløy


22 Feb 18


Changes at MASTT and FDS


Congratulations to MCDOA member John Hunnibell on his penultimate day in uniform on Friday 16 February when he was presented with his Long Service & Good Conduct medal by MCDOA past-Chairman Mark Atkinson.



On the same day, John was relieved by fellow MCDOA member Dave Stanbury as Officer-in-Charge of the Maritime Autonomous Systems Trials Team (MASTT).  Congratulations to Dave, too.



Photos courtesy of Dave Stanbury.


I am also grateful to MCDOA member Dave Hunkin for this message:


"Dear Rob,


A quick note to congratulate Al Nekrews QGM on his appointment as CO Fleet Diving Squadron on Wednesday.  I understand that competition this year was particularly fierce with a great crop of MCD Cdrs in the mix which can only bode well for the future of the Branch.


Many congratulations to Al who I know will bring his own inimitable style to this key role plus a huge amount of operational experience to this vital area of Defence.


Kind Regards,


Dave Hunkin"


Al Nekrews at 2017 MCDOA Annual Dinner


SDU1 deals with smoke grenade on Devon beach


The Devon Live website contains this article, including video, reporting the disposal, presumably by members of Plymouth-based Southern Diving Unit 1 (SDU1), of a partially functioned smoke grenade found on the beach at Saunton in Devon.



NDG deals with ordnance on Isle of Man beach


The Isle of Man Government website contains this article reporting the disposal, presumably by members of Faslane-based Northern Diving Group (NDG), of what appears to be a spent cartridge case found at Ramsey on the Isle of Man.



21 Feb 18


Dan Herridge to command Sandown class minehunter



Congratulations to MCDOA member Dan Herridge who has been appointed Commanding Officer of MCM1 Crew 6 from April.  He informs me that he is "absolutely over the moon and looking forward to the privilege".  He has also promised lots of snippets of life at sea for the website.


WO1(D) Keith Satchwell awarded MSM


Congratulations to Keith Satchwell on being gazetted for the award of the Meritorious Service Medal (MSM).


20 Feb 18 - Gentlemen Who Lunch


The MCDOA's 'Not Quite the Last of the Summer Wine' trio of Barlow, Holloway and Hoole joined MCDOA past-President Colin Welborn and past-Vice Chairman Jon Riches for a hugely sociable lunchtime session today at The Flower Pots Inn at Cheriton in Hampshire where we consumed Super 'Pots' real ale produced by the pub's own brewery.  Sandy and Jo, the pub's landlady, served us well and we much enjoyed their large, well-filled baps.





19 Feb 18 - Presentation on AUVs


MCDOA member Geoff Goodwin has drawn my attention to this announcement:


Joint meeting of the RIN and The Nautical Institute Solent Branch


Thursday 26th April 2018 at 1900


Warsash Maritime Academy, Newtown Road,

Warsash, SO31 9ZL


“Autonomous vessels – A real revolution”


Professor Andy Norris FRIN FNI


The age of the autonomous vessel has already arrived. The speaker will describe the present situation, how the future is likely to evolve and why their use will inevitably expand.  At this joint meeting he will consider where we are now and are likely to be in a few years time and beyond.


He will look at available and emerging technology, the various types of autonomy, along with UK and International examples of systems being sold and under development. Other implications will be considered, such as the impact on the Colregs, maritime regulations, marine insurance and leisure sailors.


His presentation will be directed and open to all those with an interest in the maritime sector, including pilots, the rescue services, harbour authorities, bridge staff,  small craft sailors, insurers, trainers, students, legal experts, trainers, researchers and manufacturers.  Members of kindred societies such as IMarEST, RINA, and the Soton Master Mariners Club will also be welcome.


Prior booking is not mandatory but would help planning, to book please Click here!  It leads you to “Eventbrite” which will take and acknowledge your booking, provide you more detail plus a map of the location.  Simply click “REGISTER” and then “CHECKOUT”.  There is no charge for attendance and the meeting room will be open from 1830 for signing in.


In case of difficulty booking online, please email names/organisation to  For details of  other RIN events, please visit


18 Feb 18 - Latest Rope Signal 


The latest issue of the Historical Diving Society (HDS) newsletter 'Rope Signal' can be accessed via this link:


Issue 2 (2018) of the Historical Diving Society Newsletter  



The previous issue of Rope Signal (see second entry for 11 Feb 18) reported the sad news that Ray Sutcliffe had passed on.  His funeral service will be held at 1200 on Wednesday 7 March at Mortlake Crematorium, Meadow Path, Townmead Road, Richmond, TW9, 4EN.  The service will be followed by a gathering at Ray's favourite pub, The Forrester's Arms in Hampton Wick, which is just down the road from where he lived.  He was extremely popular among the local community so it seemed only fitting to end up there for a drink and some jazz.


17 Feb 18 - SDU2 kept busy


These images have been tweeted showing members of Portsmouth-based Southern Diving Unit 2 (SDU2) dealing with projectiles and shells found at an aggregate yard in Shoreham yesterday.  The items were destroyed in a controlled explosion.




On completion, the team was due to attend another incident in Southsea.


16 Feb 18 - A coffee with our past-President


Your humble Webmaster had a delightful chat with MCDOA past-President Paddy McAlpine over a cup of coffee this morning and passed him a copy of Home Waters for which he was gracious enough to provide this foreword.  I was also charmed by Paddy's wife Janette.




I have ordered a consignment of books from the USA for sale in the UK and am awaiting delivery.


14 Feb 18 - SDU2 is a hot topic


Today's Portsmouth News contains this article about the work of Southern Diving Unit 2 (SDU2) featuring MCDOA member Jonny Campbell (OIC SDU2).



Other recent items include:


Portsmouth divers called to help as London airport shut after Second World War bomb is found


IN PICTURES: Portsmouth divers attend unexploded bomb incident at London City Airport


Safety fears delay Royal Navy’s bid to destroy bomb at London airport


Navy’s ‘unsung heroes’ risk their lives every week destroying bombs


UPDATE: Operation to destroy London bomb to resume


MCDOA member Del McKnight, CO of the Fleet Diving Squadron (FDS), being interviewed at the scene of the recovery of the Second World War German 500 kg SC bomb in the KGV Dock adjacent to London City Airport.



STOP PRESS! The deed has been performed:


Portsmouth News: Specialist navy team from Portsmouth blow up 500kg wartime bomb


Daily Mail: Moment Royal Navy detonates 1,100lb WWII bomb which forced closure of London City Airport after a mammoth 72-hour operation to tow it out to sea



13 Feb 18 - Gentlemen Who Lunch


The MCDOA's 'Not Quite the Last of the Summer Wine' trio of Barlow Holloway and Hoole gathered at the Sussex Brewery in Emsworth today with fellow traveller Lez Howard. 


It being Shrove Tuesday, my next door neighbour Lez and I availed ourselves of some very tasty savoury pancakes filled with cod, salmon and prawns topped with a Mornay sauce.  Barlow said he wasn’t that hungry and just asked for two sweet pancakes with syrup instead of the standard portion of three (with a discount, of course).  These hardly touched the sides and he ended up ordering yet another portion of two pancakes because he still wasn’t hungry enough to eat three (if you see what I mean).  This left the chef with two spare sweet pancakes which Lez and I were more than happy to polish off.



12 Feb 18 - Funeral of Lt Cdr William Brian Norton RN


It was a full house at The Oaks Crematorium in Havant yesterday for the funeral of MCDOA member Bill 'Chippy' Norton (see entry for 22 Jan 18 in News Archive 61).  The minewarfare & diving community was represented by MCDOA members Jon Cox, Mike Kooner MBE, Jon Riches, Jim Sykes and Yours Truly as well as former CD1s Colin 'Scouse' Kidman QGM, Mick Fellows MBE DSC BEM, Don Green, Mike Handford, Chris Jones BEM, Willie Owen, Ray Ramsay and Brian 'Troy' Tempest,  The HMS Ganges Association and Freemasons were also well represented and, of course, there were many members of the family including Bill's widow Gunhild.






Towards the end of the service, I rang '5 Bells' on the RNCDA's travelling bell commissioned by Tony Sexton thanks to an anonymous donor, a Royal Marines bugler sounded the Last Post and Reveille and Shep Woolley, Chairman of the Ganges Association, piped the Still and Carry On.


Click on this image for a scanned copy of the Order of Service:



Bill's family composed this eulogy which was delivered by the Revd Derek Reeve:


William Brian Norton (Bill) was born on the 23rd of December 1935 in the small Northumbrian village of Ponteland to parents William and Edna Norton.  He was the elder of two children, being the brother to Richard known as Syd.  He became the man of the house at the early age of 7 following the death to TB of his father.  He was raised and educated in the County and as a boy William was especially proud of his achievements during the school holidays working on a local farm with Italian Prisoners of war.  He took to farm work so well he found himself facing the choice of full time farm work or entering an apprenticeship in Vickers shipyard which had been arranged by his uncles.


William however, confounding everyone, decided to join the Royal Navy and at 15 joined HMS Ganges as a Boy Seaman 2nd Class in 1951.  One particular account of many salty tales was, when as a young sailor, he was in the middle of the ocean learning navigation by the stars, he pointed out an object passing across the sky, which no one could identify, and how special he felt to later find out that the object he had identified was Sputnick.


He progressed through the ranks as a rating, firstly as a Gunner, but a change of career to the diving branch came about due to the Suez crisis, qualifying as a Clearance Diving Instructor along the way.  After being selected for officer training, he graduated from the Royal Naval College at Greenwich as a Sub 1965,  He then served in a variety of appointments afloat and ashore as a Seaman Officer, specialising in Mine Warfare including Explosive Ordnance Disposal and Deep Diving operations.  His last appointment was as the Officer-in-Charge of the RN Saturation and Diving Trials Team where he was a leading pioneer in the development of diving to extreme depths.


After retiring as a Lieutenant Commander in 1979, he commenced a second career with Royal Dutch Shell as a subsea operations specialist, originally in the North Sea but latterly on an International basis from the head offices in The Hague.  This included three years in Nigeria and eight years in Norway.  It was during his time with Shell that he met, fell in love with, and married his beloved wife Gunhild.


He finally retired to a small plot of land on the Costa Del Sol in Southern Spain in June 1996, where he and Gunhild shared very happy times.  For some, simply having time to grow avocados and citrus would be a dream come true, but not so for William.  He now had the time to also dedicate himself wholeheartedly to the advancement and promotion of Freemasonry in Spain, and to his mother Lodge here in Portsmouth.  He did this with his typical single-minded determination, and derived great pleasure from seeing the results of his tutelage.


Unfortunately, ill health forced a return to the UK from this idyll, and after an ongoing illness he sadly passed away on the 5th of January.  William has three children, ten grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.  Although saddened by his passing we can rejoice in the fact that he still lives on through them.


William Brian Norton

(23 Dec 1935 - 5 Jan 2018)


11 Feb 18


STOP PRESS: Second World War bomb causes closure of London City Airport


The BBC News website contains this article announcing the closure of London City Airport owing to the discovery of an unexploded Second World War bomb in the adjacent King George V Dock.  Members of Portsmouth-based Southern Diving Unit 2 (SDU2) are on the scene.


The most recent previous find was only a year ago (see entry for 20 Jan 17 in News Archive 57).


Latest Rope Signal 


The latest issue of the Historical Diving Society (HDS) newsletter 'Rope Signal' can be accessed via this link:


Issue 1 (2018) of the Historical Diving Society Newsletter  



I was particularly saddened to read of the death of Ray Sutcliffe, seen second left here during an HDS UK/HDS Italia working equipment weekend on Horsea Island (see entry for 29 Apr 07 in News Archive 18) and will miss our engrossing conversations.



10 Feb 18 - Steve Window installed as a Liveryman


Congratulations to MCDOA member Steve 'Steamy' Window (third left) on being elevated to a Liveryman of the Honourable Company of Master Mariners.



Steve informs me that he has just resigned from Simwave in Rotterdam where it was wonderful assisting in bringing Europe’s most advanced simulator centre into service.  He is returning to the UK next week and is planning to move back into mainstream maritime education.


9 Feb 18 - Awards of LS&GC and clasps


Congratulations to PO(D) Gareth 'Buffs' Buffrey on being gazetted for the award of a clasp to his Long Service & Good Conduct medal and to PO(MW) Andy 'Mickey' O’Rourke, LS(MW) Dan Baker and LS(MW) Andy Broomfield on being gazetted for the award of the Long Service & Good Conduct medal.


8 Feb 18 - Gentlemen Who Lunch


For a variety of reasons, I was the only member of the MCDOA's 'Not Quite the Last of the Summer Wine' trio available to host ex-RN CD1 Dave Humphreys for lunch at the Fox & Hounds in Denmead yesterday but we had a thoroughly enjoyable meal nonetheless.  Jackie, the establishment's landlady, provided us with a sumptuous dish of freshly-made chicken & ham pie which we washed down with a couple of pints of Doom Bar. 


Dave is visiting the UK from Lugarno near Sydney in Australia where he moved 20 years ago.  We are fellow members of the RNCDA and each had our challenge coin ready to produce on demand.



7 Feb 18 - RN Minewarfare Heritage: New book now printed and available to order


'Home Waters: Royal Navy, Royal Canadian Navy, and US Navy Mine Forces Battling U-Boats in World War I', written by your humble Webmaster in collaboration with prolific American author David Bruhn, a fellow MCMV CO in the Gulf, has now been printed and is available to order (see entry for 21 Jan 18 in News Archive 61).  I will be donating all my proceeds towards Project Vernon, the campaign to erect a monument at Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth to celebrate the minewarfare & diving heritage of HMS Vernon which previously occupied the site.


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


They Opened the Seaways by Richard DeRosset portrays a mine detonation off the port quarter of USS Richard Bulkeley.  The wooden-hulled minesweeping trawler was sunk with loss of life while participating in post-World War I clearance of the North Sea Mine Barrage stretching from the Scottish Orkney Islands to Bergen, Norway.

Book Description
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 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.


Click here to read foreword by Dwight A. Messimer


Click here to read foreword by Rear Admiral Paul Ryan USN


Click here to read foreword by Rear Admiral Paddy McAlpine RN (MCDOA past-President)


6 Feb 18 - A tweet about our President


This photo was tweeted today by MCDOA member Justin Hains, the Commander of Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 2 (SNMCMG2) embarked in the survey vessel HMS Enterprise and shows him with MCDOA President Roger Readwin (Captain Mine Warfare and Patrol Vessels, Fishery Protection and Diving):


MCDOA member Justin Hains with MCDOA President Roger Readwin on board HMS Enterprise

somewhere in the Black Sea


4 Feb 18 - RN EOD Heritage: A new book from Chris Ransted


My old friend Chris Ransted is the author of several magazine articles and books about EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) including Bomb Disposal and the British Casualties of WW2 and Disarming Hitler's V Weapons: Bomb Disposal - The V1 & V2 Rockets.


Chris has just published his latest meticulously researched contribution to the genre.  Bomb Disposal in World War Two covers all aspects of this topic including the work of HMS Vernon-trained RN, RNVR and RANVR bomb & mine disposal personnel who amassed 23 George Crosses (the UK’s second highest award for gallantry) and at least 134 George Medals (including 16 bars) during operations at sea and on land throughout the UK and further afield.



Front and back covers of Bomb Disposal in World War Two

by Chris Ransted


Here is the flyleaf blurb:


For this book, Chris Ransted has researched some of the lesser known events and personalities relating to the early years of Explosive Ordnance Disposal in the UK.  Daring acts of cold blooded bravery, and ingenuity in the face of life threatening technical challenges, are recounted throughout the book. 


Included are numerous previously unpublished accounts and photographs that describe the disarming of German bombs, parachute mines, and even allied bombs found at aircraft crash sites. In addition, the book contains the most comprehensive account ever published of the Home Guard's role with the Auxiliary Bomb Disposal Units, and details of conscientious objectors' involvement with unexploded bombs.


This is not only a valuable research tool for serious researchers already well read on the subject, but also a fascinating read for those with no previous knowledge of wartime bomb disposal at all, and of course a must read for anyone interested in the subject.


Chris dedicates an entire chapter to mine disposal operations and even mentions the MCDOA in the acknowledgements:




This book is not only a highly recommended read but is also a useful reference source for anyone interested in our bomb & mine disposal heritage.  Less expensive copies are available to order online here..


2 Feb 18 - RN Diver EOD training at DEMS


The Forces Network website contains this article, including an informative video, describing the training of RN divers in Elementary Underwater Explosive Ordnance Disposal at the Defence EOD, Munitions and Search Training Regiment (DEMS) at Bicester in Oxfordshire (see entry for 17 May 15 in News Archive 50).  The article and video feature LS(D) Ed Maddy, AB David Kerrigan, AB Euan Wallace and AB Jamie Trickett.






The Forces TV website also contains this article including a video demonstrating practical assessment tests in the lake at DEMS involving Clearance Diver Life Support Equipment (CDLSE) and featuring course instructor PO(D) Nige Froude.



1 Feb 18 - Calling old JUFAIR hands



Members of this group will be aware that the new UK support facility in Bahrain is to be re-commissioned as HMS JUFAIR.  The UKMCC (Maritime Component Command) HQ, which will have responsibility for the move into JUFAIR and the running of the facility, would like to combine the old with the new ensuring that the rich history of the previous HMS JUFAIR is fully recognised in the new establishment.  However, making contact with those who served in the old HMS JUFAIR has proved difficult.


If anyone has any memorabilia or photos they would be willing to gift or stories to share from their time there, please email Cdr Ceri Marsh, the Legal Advisor to UKMCC & CMF, via this address.  She will take copies of photos, etc., and return them to the owner if preferred.



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