The Mariner's Mirror Podcast


Iconic Ships 19: HMS Agamemnon - Nelson's Favourite Ship

Our series on Iconic Ships continues with one of the most battle-honoured ships of Nelson's Navy: HMS Agamemnon. Today we got back to those days of the wooden walls to hear about this 64-gun Third Rate that saw service in the American Revolutionary War, the French Revolutionary War and the Napoleonic War. She fought in many of the major naval battles of those conflicts and had a reputation as being Nelson’s favourite ship. After a remarkably eventful career her working life ended in 1809 when she was wrecked off the River Plate on the coast of Uruguay. The location of the wreck has been known since the early 1990s but in recent months has become the focus of efforts to preserve it, as the wreck is threatened by erosion, treasure hunters and ship worm decay.

To find out more Dr Sam Willis spoke with Mary Montagu-Scott, director of the museum in the historic shipbuilding village of Buckler’s Hard on the Beaulieu River in Hampshire, where HMS Agamemnon was built. Mary has always had a passion for maritime heritage, the sea, and sailing. She is currently active in maritime archaeology, keeping boatbuilding skills alive and as a trustee to the National Museum of the Royal Navy, HMS Victory, HMS Medusa and is commodore of her local yacht club. Mary's dream is to dive on the wreck of HMS Agamemnon, built in Bucklers Hard in 1781, and to see this great ship's story brought to life again on the original slipways.


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Maritime Special Forces 2: Combat Divers

This is the second episode of a two-part mini-series on the history of maritime special forces. In this episode we explore the history of combat divers - an elite within an elite.Combat divers must pass selection twice – firstly into their chosen elite military unit before passing a specialist combat diving qualification. Units are extremely small; they use specialist kit and vehicles; their work is dangerous and lonely; and their operations are cloaked in secrecy. Their history is rich and fascinating and runs from the Second World War to the present day, as so powerfully shown in the recent attack on the Russian Nordstream gas pipeline in the Baltic Sea. As their kit and equipment has constantly evolved, so has the nature of their work and their capabilities. To find out more Dr Sam Willis spoke with former Royal Marines Commando Michael G. Welham, a man with extensive military and commercial diving experience and author of the recent ‘Combat Divers: An illustrated history of special forces divers’. Sam and Mike discuss the Second World War roots of combat divers working in Grand Harbour, Malta to protect allied shipping; managing risk underwater; navigation underwater; equipment and weapons; the use of marine mammals in underwater warfare; and a variety of operations that highlight the changing challenges of special forces divers over time including the actions of Soviet Spetsnaz divers in Swedish territorial waters during the Cold War.