OA Sword – 2021

Lieutenant Commander Thomas Forbes Royal Navy – Citation

Excited and eager to begin his appointment to the Defence Diving School (DDS) as a Diving Officer in the Summer of 2019, Forbes found himself selected for November Ceremonies and subsequently for State Ceremonial Duties until the end of the year.

Throughout November Ceremonies he constantly demonstrated superb leadership skills, motivating and inspiring his guard during the often long and sometimes arduous periods of drill practice and set a very strong example to others.  After performing his duty at the Cenotaph with aplomb he remained in London as, for only the second time in history, the Royal Navy formed the Queen’s Guard.  As 2 I/C of the Queen’s Guard, Forbes drew praise for his powers of communication, showing great affability when entertaining senior officers and dignitaries and is reported to have been a credit to the Service throughout.

Set to return to DDS in January 2020 and ready to play his part in a major overhaul of diving training and training documentation at the dive school, he was trawled again, this time as XO to an MCM1 crew in Faslane as they prepared for Operational Sea Training (OST).  He took the news without complaint and despite not being trained on Single Role MCMVs he attacked the role with vigour, proving an asset to the ship and mentoring and coaching the junior wardroom with great success.  Expecting to return to DDS and his family home in late February he was trawled for a fourth time to remain with the ship through OST finally returning home some six weeks later.  It is testament to his character and leadership that he did not let what must have been disappointing news affect his performance in anyway, and he is credited with being a key part of the crew’s successful sea training. 

Since returning to DDS his can do attitude and abundance of spare capacity have been of real benefit to the DDS embodied in the way in which he immersed himself in the task of rewriting all diving Lesson Specifications, rallying others to help get this vital work finished in time for training to resume.  Within weeks of being back he had prepared, delivered and improved the first Diving Officers Safety Management course, closing a regulatory training gap spanning several years and all under pan MOD scrutiny.  He delivered several DSMO courses on his own and has strived to continue to improve the quality of the course for future generations of diving project managers.  He also successfully led and delivered a SABA Mod1 equipment trial to enable the return to service of this vital piece of diving equipment. 

Photo of Lt Cdr Tom Forbes being presented with the OA sword by Commodore Andy Jordan RN, Deputy Director Ships at DE&S.
Lt Cdr Tom Forbes is presented with the OA sword by Commodore Andy Jordan RN, Deputy Director Ships at DE&S

He passed his Diving Officer board early and took over as Project Officer for the delivery of Pre-Deployment Training.  Reaching out to key stakeholders, such as FOST, he has redesigned the Defence Watch Diving week, a week of robust training undertaken by all trainee Clearance Diving Officers and Ratings that simulates diving under challenging operational circumstances onboard an MCMV.  The week is now far more akin to what the student divers can expect to experience once qualified and is backed up by supporting scenarios, signals, tasks and briefs which have really added to the training value and which DDS will no doubt use for many years to come.  Although normally delivered by the more senior Diving Officer 1 he was the obvious choice to take over delivery of the Minewarfare and Clearance Diving Officer’s course, one of the premier and most complex courses that the DDS delivers, and he has risen to the challenge, showing a maturity and risk awareness far beyond what might be expected of someone of his experience.

Steadfast, displaying integrity in spades and always putting the needs of the service ahead of his own, Forbes has performed in an exemplary fashion since joining DDS and is very strongly recommended for, and deserving of recognition.