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Award for Clyde Royal Navy bomb disposal expert

12 September 2016
A Royal Navy Clyde-based Royal Navy sailor has been recognised for his outstanding work in Explosive Ordnance Disposal.

Leading Diver Scott McAllister is part of Northern Diving Group (NDG), the unit responsible for bomb disposal across a huge swath of Scotland and Northern England.

Scott recently picked up an award for being NDG’s “sailor of the year”, the prize in recognition of his part in a mission to a remote Scottish village where a large amount of unstable explosives were found near to a Primary School.

On the night of November 6 last year, Scott arrived by helicopter at Scoraig, south of Ullapool, in the Scottish Highlands.  A local resident had happened upon a supply of explosives and detonators stored in an outhouse just meters from the village’s Primary School.   

While with Northern Diving Group I have been involved in many rewarding tasks such as the 2015 annual ensign change on HMS Royal Oak.

Leading Diver Scott McAllister

The previous owner of the shed had been involved in the quarrying industry and was licensed to hold a supply of plastic explosives.  But after the owner had passed away they lay forgotten in the locked outhouse. 

By the time they were discovered some years later, it is estimated that the explosives were around 30 years old and had deteriorated to the point where they were potentially unstable, making Scott’s mission a particularly dangerous one. 

After inspecting the scene, Scott used his Explosive Ordnance Disposal expertise to tackle the situation, safely moving the plastic explosives and detonators to a nearby beach where a controlled explosion was carried out.

“When we landed on a grassy field it was in complete darkness,” said Scott.  “All we could hear was the helicopter blades turning and it was a couple of minutes until we could see the flashlights of the local police who were standing guard on the shed.  It was pretty exciting to be flown to a job by helicopter.”

Scott was joined at the award ceremony by his girlfriend Xophie Hooper on board historic warship HMS Victory at Portsmouth.  Afterwards there was a celebratory meal in the vessel’s Wardroom. 

“I was surprised and honoured to achieve this award,” said Scott.  “It goes to show that hard work, determination and motivation goes a long way to a successful and fulfilling career.”

Joining the Royal Navy in 2007 aged 19, Scott immediately began training as a Clearance Diver.  He passed his dive course in 2008, achieving the title of “best phase 2 trainee”.

Soon after, he joined the Faslane-based First Mine Counter Measures Squadron (MCM1) where he became part of the crew on board a Sandown Class mine hunter.  For the next five months he was deployed to the Gulf with HMS Pembroke, helping to protect the vital waterways in the region.

His first service with Northern Diving Group came in 2010, and in 2012 he gained promotion to Leading Diver.  The next year Scott received his first award from the unit being crowned “clearance diver of the year”.

Another Gulf tour followed as well as a time spent helping train and improve the water capabilities of Bahraini forces. 

Returning home and to Northern Diving Group, Scott took up a position as Leading Diver in Surface supplied diving equipment where he impressed NDG’s Command with his drive and organisational skills.  He then took up his current role as “Buffer” – a naval term for a senior seaman sailor – where he supports the planning and running of the group.

The Perth sailor is also one of the only Rescue Chamber Operators for the NATO Submarine Rescue System in the UK and is an air diving supervisor.

Asked about the highlights of his naval career so far, Scott said: “While with Northern Diving Group I have been involved in many rewarding tasks such as the 2015 annual ensign change on HMS Royal Oak.  I then had the honour of co-presenting the ensign I removed to Edinburgh Castle’s War Memorial with HRH Princess Anne.”

HMS Royal Oak was sunk in Scapa Flow, Orkney, in 1939 and is a designated war grave.  Each year Royal Navy divers from NDG visit the site and descend to change the White Ensign, the iconic flag of the Royal Navy. 

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