Lieutenant Commander Tony Hampshire hands over to new Commanding Officer of NDG, Lieutenant Commander Chris Stephenson (right).
Royal Navy bomb disposal experts at HM Naval Base Clyde have a new Commanding Officer (CO) with the arrival of Lieutenant Commander Chris Stephenson.
Chris, who has previously served as Mine Counter Measures Staff Officer to the Faslane Flotilla, takes over from Lieutenant Commander Tony Hampshire as CO of Northern Diving Group (NDG).
Tony commanded the unit from January 2016 to July 2018 and now it’s time for something new – and it’s not just a new job for Tony as he is all set to up sticks with his family and move over 3,000 miles away to start a new life in Canada, as part of an exchange programme with the Canadian government.
Speaking of his time as Commanding Officer of NDG, Tony said: “It has been an honour and a privilege to Command Northern Diving Group for the past 30 months. To be the figurehead of a team of professional and capable operational clearance divers has been the pinnacle of my Royal Navy career, and it is with great sadness that I move on to the next challenge.”
New CO, Lieutenant Commander Chris Stephenson, pictured left, successfully completed his Mine Warfare and Clearance Diving Course in 2004 and then deployed as Operations Officers and Executive Officer on board HMS Chiddingfold where he took the ship from refit and then deployed to the Gulf to conduct mine clearance operations in Iraqi waterways. More recently, he was appointed Chief of Staff (COS) to Commander 1st Mine Counter Measures Squadron prior to commencing duties as the COS to Mine Warfare Battle Staff. This deployment encompassed many high-profile exercises in the Gulf region, involving multi-national Mine Counter Measures forces.
On his return from the Gulf, Chris took up further duties with Mine Counter Measures Squadrons and an appointment with UK Maritime Battle Staff before assuming Command of the Northern Diving Group on 25 July 2018.
Chris said: “It is with significant pride that I take over as Commanding Officer of Northern Diving Group and look forward to leading the group in continuing to provide a high readiness capability for Diving and Bomb Disposal to the Fleet.”
The Northern Diving Group (NDG) is one of two Fleet Diving Squadron area diving groups whose mission is to provide diving, Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) and In-Water Maintenance and Repair (IWMAR) to the Fleet.
Comprising more than 40 Royal Navy clearance divers and support staff, NDG is located at HM Naval Base Clyde.
To aid Civic authorities, NDG provides a perpetual high readiness team of Maritime Explosive Ordnance Disposal (Maritime EOD), or bomb disposal experts. They cover an expanse that starts from the high-water mark in Liverpool and stretches 12 nautical miles out to sea clockwise around the coast to Hull, encompassing Northern Ireland, the Scottish Western Isles, Shetland and the Orkneys. This vast area was exposed to many bombing raids in WW2 both on land and at sea, and the team continues to find and deal with such items of hazardous historic ordnance that could still pose a significant threat.
NDG also has an Improvised Explosive Device Disposal (IEDD) responsibility which takes into account Glasgow city and airport.
NDG also provides underwater engineering support to naval ships and submarines at HMNB Clyde along with a worldwide deploy-able capability for in water operational maintenance and repair of all Fleet units.
Unique to NDG is the support and manning of the NATO Submarine Rescue System (NSRS) which can be deployed at very short notice to attend to submarine emergencies. NDG divers work closely with their French and Norwegian counterparts to ensure a readily available, worldwide, deployable capability.
NDG personnel are trained in four different diving sets along with the ability to operate many underwater tools and equipment, including re-compression chamber operations, to support their mission.