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In My Day They Were Called ‘Frogmen’: Latest Blog from Northern Diver

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Northern Diver
Northern Diver are a UK company that have over 40 years of diving expertise behind them and have gained a well earned reputation of excellence: researching, developing, manufacturing and supplying high tech diving equipment to commercial and leisure sectors. The company is also heavily involved in assisting, advising & supplying governments around the world in respect to military plus search & rescue diving requirements. I suppose my fascination with military diving began when I was a schoolboy and the ‘Crabb Affair’ became headline news. It was 1956. The idea that a British Royal Navy frogman and MI6 diver had mysteriously vanished whilst on an operation ‘nearby’ a Soviet cruiser berthed in Portsmouth Naval Dockyard had all the ingredients for a James Bond novel. In fact, the alleged underwater inspection of the cruiser’s hull by a frogman spy actually inspired Ian Flemming as he put pen to paper for the James Bond adventure ‘Thunderball’.

Lieutenant Commander Lionel Kenneth “Buster” Crabb OBEGM (28 January 1909 – presumed dead 19 April 1956) was a war hero. He was one of a group of underwater clearance divers who checked for limpet mines in Gibraltar harbor during the period of Italian frogman and manned torpedo attacks by the Decima Flottiglia MAS. They dived with oxygen rebreathers (Davis Submarine Escape Apparatus), which until then had not been used much if at all for swimming down from the surface. At first they swam by breaststroke without swim-fins. They did however have ‘plimsoles’!
On 8 December 1942, during one such attack, two of the Italian frogmen, Lt. Visintini and Petty Officer Magro died, (probably killed by depth charges). Their bodies were recovered, and their swim-fins and scuba sets were taken and from then on used by Sydney Knowles and Commander Lionel Crabb on future operations.
By the time Crabb dived under the Soviet cruiser Ordzhonikidze that had taken Nikita Khrushchev and Nikolai Bulganin on a diplomatic mission to Britain, he had actually retired from the Royal Navy but had been recruited by British Intelligence.
Many theories surfaced concerning Crabb’s disappearance: especially when a headless & handless corpse in a frogman’s suit washed up on a Sussex beach 14 months later. The body was of course almost impossible to identify (with the forensic technology then available). That fuelled even more elaborate ideas. Some suggested that the Russians had dropped a body into the sea but that Crabb had really been captured by the Russians and spirited away to Moscow (others suggested – all part of a pre-conceived plan by MI6 to plant a double agent in the Kremlin).
Many years later, a high ranking ex Soviet intelligence officer told an Israeli journalist that Crabb had actually been spotted on the surface alongside the warship and subsequently shot. Another Russian claimed that he had been awarded a medal by the then USSR for killing the frogman with a knife. Nothing could be conclusively proved as fact. Many experts suggest that as Crabb was 57 at the time of the incident, was known to smoke and drink heavily, that these factors combined with catastrophic equipment failure – oxygen poisoning or perhaps carbon dioxide poisoning – killed him outright or brought him to the surface where he then died. Over the years, various parliamentary questions were tabled by MP’s seeking the true facts on Crabb’s mission and eventual demise. All were met by ‘No Comment’ from the various parties in power on the grounds of the Official Secrets Act.
It is interesting to note that when the 50 year rule for public disclosure on the ‘Crabb Affair’ came up, the government of the day released some information ‘that back in 1956, Crabb was not the only diver investigating the Soviet cruiser but little other data was forthcoming. Currently, as far as the ‘Crabb Affair’ is specifically concerned (Freedom of Information regulations etc) further release of data is withheld till 2057!
To read more of Northern Diver’s latest blog, click here.

Gear News

Gear Maintenance: Episode 1 Masks – Sponsored by Dive Rite (Watch Video)

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Everything you need to know to make your scuba diving mask last a lifetime! Welcome to Gear Maintenance!

If you want to support Divers Ready! (for free!) support our sponsor for this series of videos: Dive Rite

To enter to win the ES155 Mask from Dive Rite, you need to:

  1. Subscribe to Divers Ready! if you haven’t already: https://www.youtube.com/c/diversready?sub_confirmation=1
  2. Enter the contest here: https://gleam.io/LOgJt/dive-rite-es155-mask-giveaway

A scuba diving mask is a seemingly simple piece of kit, but there are things that can wrong with it. Proper care, cleaning and preventative maintenance will help you keep your scuba mask in the best condition for years and years. We’ve packed this video full of hints and tips covering storage, protection, cleaning, defogging and maintenance to help you protect the investment you’ve made in your dive equipment.

Oh, and here’s the soft case I recommend. (Yes, this is an affiliate link. Purchases made through this link m ay earn me a small commission at no additional cost to you.)

Mask case: https://amzn.to/35b6Avj

Good luck to everyone!

D.S.D.O

James


Subscribe here: http://bit.ly/DiversReady

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Miscellaneous Blogs

5 Women Divers With YouTube Channels That Inspire Divers Ready (Watch Video)

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Another in the series of weekly videos from Divers Ready! This video was originally produced to coincide with PADI Women’s Dive Day 2019 but it’s worth celebrating everyday!

Ahead of PADI Women Dive Day 2019, it seemed appropriate to shine a light on the awesome content these 5 women divers are putting out.

We made this as a tribute video to 5 female rockstars of the diving world whose YouTube Channels have inspired Divers Ready in one way or another.

Links below! Head over and hit their subscribe buttons!


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