Royal Navy’s elite divers show off their skills in front of world’s future military leaders at Portsmouth Naval Base

FUTURE leaders of armed forces from across the globe have been given a taste of the Royal Navy’s military might during an explosive demonstration.

Friday, 22nd March 2019, 6:14 pm
Updated Friday, 22nd March 2019, 6:16 pm
Defence personnel from 59 nations were given tours of naval assets, including on HMS Middleton
Picture: Habibur Rahman
Defence personnel from 59 nations were given tours of naval assets, including on HMS Middleton Picture: Habibur Rahman

Senior officers from 59 nation states, who are earmarked to be the next generation of military top brass, witnessed the display at Portsmouth Naval Base.

The contingent of 257 defence personnel - which includes 160 rising stars from Britain’s own military forces - were visiting the navy HQ as part of a major conference shining a light on what the Senior Service is capable of.

‘Frogmen’ from the navy’s elite Fleet Diving Squadron stood front and centre as they showed  off their talents, from identifying mines and destroying improvised explosive devices, to using special forces-style tactics to launch a stealthy counter-terrorism raid on a ship.

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Defence personnel from 59 nations were given tours of naval assets, including on HMS Middleton Picture: Habibur Rahman

Watching on was the new commander of the unit, Commander Al Nekrews.

The decorated 46-year-old, who was a student on the last training course, said: ‘These guys really are the best of the best.

‘We deliver capabilities that are not only unique to the navy but unique to defence.

‘So demonstrating that not only to the international military students but also to our own sister services, within the air force and the army, was a very proud moment.’

Pictured: Lieutenant Colonel Stepan Stepanyan of the Armenian army Picture: Habibur Rahman

During the two-day visit, the group of officers were given tours of the nation’s new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, Type 23 frigate HMS Northumberland, as well as patrol ship HMS Tyne and minehunter HMS Middleton.

Stepan Stepanyan is a Lieutenant Colonel with the armed forces of land-locked Armenia. Despite his home nation not having its own navy, the officer said his time in Portsmouth had been ‘very interesting and informative’.

He said: ‘We don’t have a navy as we’re a landlocked country but the principal of naval forces and methods of how Great Britain delivers and imposes its naval powers on different regions is very interesting.

‘We have something to learn from this, not how to use our non-existent naval forces but how to create and develop national military powers in general.’

Some 257 defence personnel from 59 different countries attended the event at Portsmouth Naval Base Picture: Habibur Rahman

Lieutenant Colonel Ahmad Alwidian, of the Jordanian Armed Forces, was impressed by Britain’s naval power and maritime history.

He said: ‘We don’t have a naval force like Britain because Jordan has a 25 kilometre-long coastline, which means we only have patrol boats. So it was very impressive to see such a big boats and warships here.’

RAF Wing Commander Tom Holgate said he had learnt plenty - not just from the navy but his fellow students.

‘We’ve learnt just as much from the international students here today as hopefully they have learnt from us, so it’s great to have them on board, they bring a different flavour to things,’ he said.

Royal Navy Captain Patrick Douglas helped to organise the day. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Royal Navy Captain Patrick Douglas helped run the course and insisted it helped to forge lasting international friendships.

He added: ‘I have been in the navy for 30 years and very seldom have we worked in isolation, very often we find ourselves working with close partners.

‘Whether that be with our friends in the Gulf, our American colleagues or further afield - if we can understand how they work and what they’re able to bring to the joint environment, the better we can work together.’


Commander Al Nekrews, head of the Royal Navy's Fleet Diving Squadron. Picture: Habibur Rahman
Royal Navy fleet navy divers performing an under water demolition exercise in Portsmouth as part of the Advanced Command & Staff Course (ACSC) Picture: Habibur Rahman
Ahmad Alwidian of the Jordanian Armed Forces. Picture: Habibur Rahman