‘Inspirational’ clearance diver Settle dies

DIVING NEWS

‘Inspirational' clearance diver Settle dies

Settle

One of Britain’s most highly decorated post-war clearance-divers, Warrant Officer Diver Terry Settle, has died at the age of 76.

The Daily Telegraph carried an obituary by military historian Capt Peter Hore RN, who wrote that Settle was “remembered equally for his cool head as for his inspirational leadership”.

Settle was born on 2 February, 1945 in Epping, Essex. His father, a Royal Navy diver, had helped to clear the Suez Canal in 1942/43.

Settle joined the navy as a boy seaman in 1960. With the frigate Berwick he took part in the Indonesia-Malaysia confrontation of 1963-66 and, with the frigate Ajax, the British withdrawal from Aden in 1967.

Over 25 years working as an explosive-ordnance clearance diver his awards culminated in the Queen's Gallantry Medal (QGM), and also included three Commander-in-Chief’s commendations for bravery and expertise, while in 1980 he was awarded the British Empire Medal for military service.

The QGM followed an outstanding exploit in September 1984, when Settle led a dive-team to investigate after a number of ships had been hit by mines thought to have been laid by Libya in the Gulf of Suez.

His ship, the minehunter Gavinton, found an unidentified object half-buried in mud at 42m at the exit of the canal, wrote Hore. In poor visibility Settle photographed and surveyed the mine and used airbags to tow it into shallower water. Suspecting it to be a new type of Soviet mine, he obtained a Soviet spanner from the Egyptian navy and used it to deactivate the device, which contained 600kg of explosives.

Five months later in the Persian Gulf during the Iran-Iraq war, Iraq struck the supertanker Fellowship L with an Exocet missile 2m above the waterline. The device ended up in the forward tank, which contained 23,000 tonnes of crude oil, but failed to explode. When asked if he would be able to investigate within three weeks, Settle replied: “Twelve hours max.”

The oil was pumped out but, with France’s Exocet manufacturer uncooperative, Settle had to make his own assessment on rendering the missile safe. He arranged its lifting from the bottom of the tank and disposed of it in deep water.

4 April 2021

Also in 1985, Settle’s Fleet Clearance Diving Team worked to clear the Grand Harbour in Valletta of wartime ordnance – though the divers had to conceal their identities because Malta’s prime minister Dom Mintoff had ordered British forces off the island.

They managed to remove large amounts of weapons and explosive devices, and dismantled wrecks often in difficult and dangerous conditions – with Mintoff as an occasional observer.

Settle later became an instructor at the Defence Explosive Ordnance Disposal School. He retired from the Navy in 1995, but ran his own health & safety consultancy called Settle For Safety. He died on 2 March, leaving his wife Margaret and two sons.

biggest

LET’S KEEP IN TOUCH!

Get a weekly roundup of all Divernet news and articles 🤿

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Related Divernet Posts

Diver Magazine Relaunch

Diver magazine needs YOU!

Are you still lamenting the demise of Diver magazine? Well now you can help resurrect an icon as we seek to bring back the magazine

Turtles of Raja Ampat

Turtles of Raja Ampat

The Raja Ampat Creature Feature Series: Turtles Raja Ampat is the perfect diving location to find four of the seven ocean turtle species of the

manta ray and diver over reef in Komodo

Divers pitch into Komodo manta probe

Manta rays choose to stick around Indonesia’s Komodo National Park in unusually large numbers – and, according to a new diver-led study, this community could

female diver holding pair of Fourth Element Tech fins

Tech fins inspired by humpback whales

Whales provided the inspiration for optimising efficiency in Fourth Element’s latest fins, according to the Cornwall-based manufacturer. The “turbulence disruptors” on top of the blades

Last Breath portrait of Woody Harrelson

Woody dives into Last Breath remake

A new version of the British documentary-thriller that captured the imaginations of divers in 2019 is about to be previewed at the Cannes Film Festival.

Follow Divernet on Social Media