SCOTLAND’S top Royal Navy diver, based at HM Naval Base Clyde, flies to Rome today for multi-national discussions about the best way to recover the remaining bodies trapped in the luxury liner Costa Concordia.
Lieutenant Commander Kevin Stockton will meet with experts from Italy, Germany, Sweden and Denmark to discuss the options open to divers in what is now the sixth week since the liner keeled over off the coast of Isola del Giglio.
His departure for the Italian capital follows contact made by the Italian authorities to the Royal Navy in Portsmouth. The Royal Navy is keen to stress that the talks are only at the preliminary stage and that Stockton will return to Britain on Friday whatever the outcome.
Lt Cdr Stockton is Commanding Officer of the Northern Diving Group, which is also the Royal Navy’s elite bomb disposal unit, and is based at Falsane.
In December, they won the Royal Navy’s 2011 Diving Unit Effectiveness Trophy after responding to 120 explosive ordnance device call outs in the year, including crucial forensic work on the Celtic postal bombs investigation.
In that case, they dismantled the packages by hand, photographing and x-raying them before handing them over scientists and detectives.
And, in another incident, they were airlifted to a nuclear submarine in the Atlantic and worked for 36 hours non-stop to free a fouled propulsor and allow the submarine to return to patrol as quickly as possible.
Two divers are always on ten minutes notice to deploy anywhere for explosives disposal and within 24 hours a five-man team can be sent anywhere in the world for fleet maintenance and repairs.