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Fascinating read. Thank you.


always nice to read stuff that never made the news due to secrecy etc, we should never forget these men as even though it may sound trivial now, it must have been quite a mission back then, especially with the technology back then compared to what we have today…

Douglas B urgess

Pity you could not recover the body of DAS who had been trying to restore the computer. No word because of secrecy on recovery of the nuclear weapons .


Yes. The references to crypto and stuff in the safe is a bit of red herring.


It’s an old wives tail I’m afraid.

All the nuclear weapons had been recovered to Hermes and Invincible by this point (30 in total), with 1 on RFA Regent. No WE.177 on Coventry.

There is the possibility that inert surveillance or training rounds were onboard, but even then its unlikely as they were also recovered to the carriers and eventually moved to RFA’s returning to Ascension. 7 transfer cases were damaged whilst this was undertaken.

Sheffield also categorically had no NDB aboard. It did sail with an inert surveillance round but that was removed at Ascension.


Yes yes. Thats the official version/versions because they did mislead and lie previously. Doesnt matter now of course as the RN did routinely carry these weapons but varied with the ship and other matters. Naturally it would be very irresponsible to leave anything like that just 100m down and all credit to the divers that did recover the weapons.

Whos ever mentioned Sheffield anyway , but because of the long time it took to sink any crypto and nuclear warheads could have been removed.
Coventry was a different matter.


There have been plenty of ex-RN crewmembers, including from Coventry, who have commented on the removal of nuclear weapons/inert surveillance rounds from the ships heading down south and exactly what was onboard the ships.

Sheffield was boarded by a naval party to recover weapons. They were carried by a Junglie. They recovered 3 Sea Skua and fire fighting apparatus and some other bits and bobs that could be lifted off in a net. There was no attempt to remove anything else. As the ship was burned out and it was believed that the fire would reach the Sea Dart magazine no further attempts were made. RN personnel who carried that out have talked about it…they managed to access the helo weapons magazine, ony Mk.46 there and no attempt was made to remove them.

The official version of events is correct.


Yes. of course the official versions are always completely and utterly correct. No doubt about it


Real adventure………

Bernie Lobb

RIP Paul (Pooh Bear) Callas


Fascinating! Brave men all: those who served, those who lost their lives, and those who dived to recover sensitive items.

Susan Hall

Thank you, a most interesting read. Why weren’t the bodies recovered? As a non seagoing former Wren, I not too sure of the rules!


It would officially be a war grave.


Didnt apply it seems for the Glomar Explorer ( there was a separate Glomar Challenger) recovery of non nuclear powered but nuclear missiles-Golf II class sunken Soviet sub K-129 NW of Hawaii

The interesting part was CIA knew where to look using sosus data which multiple sites could give location within 5nm
1968 was a bad year for sub sinkings with these 3 others as well, INS Dakar, MN Minerve and USS Scorpion


Yes I think so. I have read about it. But it was a long time back.

Andrew Deacon

I only discovered recently that there were burials at sea of those that died at sea right to the very end of the war. I believe that was the first conflict that bodies were optionally repatriated but only those that died on land. Perhaps more bodies would be repatriated in a conflict today.


US veterans or even deceased but active duty personnel can still chose burial at sea from a naval vessel – ashes from cremations can be used instead



Supportive Bloke

A very interesting first hand account of a very dangerous mission: well executed.

A quiet moment contemplating the realities of war.

RIP all those forever young.


Very interesting and sad at the same time. Those sailor’s left behind, forever on duty.

Thanks for this article.


This diving operation was done in a time when divers were breathing plain compressed air, which beyond 120 feet/40 meters becomes a very dangerous affair.
Today with Nitrox(Nitrogen/Oxygen) a dive to 300 meters is a much more manageable and safer operation.


Sorry but your knowledge of diving gases is sadly lacking! Nitrox is for depths shallower than “normal” compressed air, 40m is also an American (PADI) limit 😉 saturation dives are done on reduced oxygen mixtures, and they were well known in ’83 just think about the North Sea Commercial divers for instance. Try to dive on nitrox to 300m and you’ll be dead in no time!

Ray Sinclair

Helium/ Oxygen mixture
Owing to the expense of helium, heliox used in deep saturation diving, on a closed circuit breathing diving helmets.


A deeply saddening but necessary job. Hadn’t realised HMS Coventry went down so quickly. May those remaining on watch, rest in peace.

It puts the Nord Stream gas pipe explosions into perspective. At 100m deep, the perpetrators would also have to use a form of diving bell. Hmm, I wonder who has the capability, but also who can profit from this sabotage?


Some are saying that Russia is behind it, but I fail to see how doing such a thing would profit them at all.

Chris Taylor

The Nordstrom explosions – has to be the US. Biden very clearly promised to do it. I think sensible Germans were realizing that this coming winter is going to be nasty and were planning to negotiate with Russia. By blowing up the pipelines Biden rendered this pointless. He also of course threw Germany to the wolves, they will have their worst winter since 1945 – 46 and their economy will be grievously damaged, they have no way out. But that’s merely collateral damage in the drive to emasculate Russia.


There are still plenty of land pipelines mostly through Poland- who substantially benefitted from gas transit fees. They were bitterly opposed to the Baltic sea pipelines for that reason


It’s technically beyond Poland. They have one Kilo and don’t appear to have the necessary kit. But as you say the pipelines are a motive. They were opposed to the pipelines because of Russia. Many don’t know NS pipelines were German ventures. Russia didn’t want to build NS2.

I think we can write off Norway too.

Sweden has an interesting history of underwater skullduggery.

Which of the US vessels in the area was carrying the swimmer delivery vehicles that’s the question.


Poland has a higher capability than you think

Double Eagle SAROV systems to be used for mine countermeasur (MCM) operations. The system will be delivered for the Polish Navy´s Kormoran II class MCM minehunters begin built by a Polish Consortium. Delivery of the systems is scheduled for 2021-2022

And what does MCM involve looking around the seafloor for and then doing ?


Nordstrom is an American Department Store…not a pipeline..

“Biden very clearly promised to do it.”

This is utter cobblers. But if it isn’t lets see the proof…why don’t you provide a link for Biden clearly promising to blow up Nord Stream…


CT, Germany had been warned by NATO that they were too dependent on Russian energy in advance of this crisis. That does NOT mean NATO blew up Nord stream.

So what was Germany thinking? We want cheaper russian energy, and we don’t care. We will carry on using polluting brown coal and we will shut down our german built nuclear power plants because of Fukushima.


Us once was just as dependent alongside Europe on Saudi- Middle east oil.
hence the various invasions.
Energy supply is a national security issue , not a nice to have
Then theres the reliance on China for the essential manufactures of the modern world and not just household products but industrial essentials from steel to chemicals

Last edited 1 year ago by Duker

Good work by the divers and due respects to the crew of the Coventry.

Wild comments below about America cutting energy supply to Europe imagine the propaganda if that was true. Putin knows the pipeline won’t get used in his lifetime and he is sending the message that he can mess with the West’s seabed infrastructure


Wild comments below about America cutting energy supply to Europe”

‘Wild’ isn’t the word I’d use…..Mental perhaps…

Bernard Campbell

well done lads I always wondered how it was done – did all the missiles and ammo left get destroyed – ex Coventry crew myself pre FI .Later joined Hms Southampton only to be involved in the collision with Torbay which also included working with your diving section for a few months . brilliant work well done.

Ray Sinclair

Thank you ?
All the Sea dart missiles were intentionally destroyed. Basic ammo proves no prize for the Soviets at the time. There was one 1000lb bomb unexploded in the wreck as well , just to add to the drama.

Supportive Bloke

As we now know from the Soviet Russian junk being used in Ukraine the Soviets would have learned a lot from Sea Dart or the computer systems.


Dave Wolfy

Soviet weapons caught the West out in the Yom Kippur war.
What is odd at the moment, the Russians cannot deal with ex-Soviet weapons as used by Ukraine.

Gurkhamum Wendy


Well done Navy Divers, you did a good and brave plus necessary dangerous operation.

The only failure of the mission, was not bring home killed in action Sailors bodies, to their families.

As families of those who died on HMS Coventry, when they read this account, will always wonder if the dead sailor body, the navy divers came across, was their love one?

As from a service family, include members who served in the Royal Navy and Royal Marines too, also we are a service family who lost 9 family members in war too.

One of our family members killed, his body was never found, so the family has no military grave to visit or remember him by.

All we have is, only a name on a World War One Memorial in France, plus his name is also on a village Cross of Sacrifice in Worcestershire too!

We can only imagine, what families of HMS Coventry, will go through, after reading this account!

Thank you for yours service though, not always our service personnel, are honour and remember officially, for what they do for the rest of us, thank you.

Namaste Gurkhamum Wendy and Wheelchaircharlie39 David (disabled veteran) too

Ray Sinclair

Thank you ?
The fallen sailors are in their sacred resting places as is tradition with military sailors who remain forever on watch.
The divers were purposeful in not knowing the names of the sailors. Nothing to be gained from the information for the families. To know they died doing their duty to Queen and country, in the highest service and defending the ideals of Western democracy.


Really . And the UK involved in the joint attacks on the Suez canal ( France) or Iraq ( US)
And the RAF involved on the attacks on Libya in 2011 with Nato during the 1st Libyan civil war.

Was it all about western democracy or oil?


One of the unique aspects of naval service. From the battles dating back to antiquity through the world wars to the Falklands, with few exceptions, the sea has been the grave of the fallen.


This is a fantastic read and those involved deserve far more public credit than they were awarded.

Ray Sinclair

Thankyou ?
One of the Royal Navy’s most dangerous and harrowing dives to recover NATO secrets. Has gotten little to no recognition, as a journalist it’s my role to change that.

Bloke down the pub

There seems to be a reticence on the part of RN leadership to push for honours to be awarded for outstanding service. While they may think that the Senior Service is above such tawdry baubles, the impression created in the public eye is that , unlike the other services, the Navy doesn’t do anything noteworthy.

pat sexton

Greta read well done.


A great read, thanks for sharing.

ship fixer

Remember some of these brave chaps transferring onto Stena Inspector moored in Stanley Outer Harbour during that period when I was on there. Seem to recall Coventry’s radar transmitters were in Seapread’s welldeck also

Ray Sinclair

The team did recover the radar, and it was stowed on the well deck, I have an image of that somewhere as well.

Keith Robinson

I’m Puzzled in your article when you have to open the Captain’s safe you say you used oxy arc for cutting, I’m an ex artificer diver and we used this equipment back in 60s I’d have thought it would have been redundant by your time. I was teaching divers the use of seafire when I was on the port diving team mid 60s. I much admired your achievement in what you did

Ray Sinclair

Hi Keith,
It was thermal lance cutting equipment , we trained in the use of the equipment at Clucas marine , Reg Clucas invented Kerri cable.
Trained in sea fire in the late 70s at Horsea Iskand defence diving school. Sea fire would probably not have been anywhere near as efficient as thermal lance cutting into the ship. Hope that clears up your question.

Ray Sinclair
Paul Mason. HMS Antrim 1982

Just finished a book called Diver by Tony Groom who relates the same story’s but there is no mention of him in this account??

Ray Sinclair

Tony was not on this operation. He was a member of FCDT 1. The Blackleg team comprised mainly of divers from FCDT 2 led by John Dadd, during Operation Corporate.
Hope that helps.