Portsmouth-based navy divers to head off on Afghan deployment

IN ACTION Leading Diver Craig Waghorn, left, and Lieutenant Commander Al Nekrews
IN ACTION Leading Diver Craig Waghorn, left, and Lieutenant Commander Al Nekrews

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TWO Royal Navy divers will swap the sea for the dusty plains of Afghanistan on a mission to deal with the deadly threat of roadside bombs.

Lieutenant Commander Al Nekrews and Leading Diver Craig Waghorn will deploy next week as the navy’s first high-threat team specialising in handling improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

The Horsea Island-based duo recently qualified as the navy’s first high-threat IED operators and will be in Helmand province for six months working with two bomb disposal experts from the British Army.

Lt Cdr Nekrews, 39, who will lead the four-man team in the warzone, said: ‘Up until now, the specialist high-threat operators in theatre have all been from the army’s Royal Logistic Corps, so I’m immensely proud to be the first from the Royal Navy to carry out that role.

‘It will be a long way from the marine environment we’re used to working in, so it’s a hugely challenging role but I’m looking forward to getting out there and getting the job done.’

The specialist divers, who are used to working on minehunter warships, will be on call in Afghanistan to go to the aid of front-line troops when they discover the IEDs laid by Taliban fighters.

The indiscriminate home-made devices have killed and maimed hundreds of troops and thousands of Afghan civilians in the warzone since 2001.

LD Waghorn, 28, said: ‘The role of bomb disposal ultimately saves the lives of our serving personnel so it’ll be good to be part of a team that can make a real difference.

‘It’s great for the navy’s Clearance Diving Branch and the Royal Navy as a whole that we now have this specialist high-threat bomb disposal capability.’