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Seaman's role played no part.

Dubai

Yesterday, was Father's Day. But for little Cameron and Skye McColl in Gosport, England, there was no telephone call from their Dad, Timothy, telling them he was proud of the seven and four year-olds.

Every Father's Day, no matter where he was, their Dad always called.

It's been three weeks since the Royal Navy Leading Seaman disappeared without a trace from a Dubai night club. His ship, HMS Westminster, sailed without him, resuming its anti-piracy patrols between Aden and Somalia.

The 27-year-old Scottish sailor was classified as an Above Water Warfare (AWW) specialist -- a role that saw him have indepth practical and technical knowledge operating the latest anti-ship, anti-aircraft and anti-missile weaponry and sensors deployed on the frigate.

"It's highly unlikely he was suffering from post traumatic stress disorder," Dr Lars Davidsson, a consultant psychiatrist and expert on the condition and suicide, told Gulf News yesterday. The British-based expert said from the details known of MacColl's last moments, he wasn't displaying any of the classic symptoms of the condition that often strikes men in uniform.

Days before his ship docked at Port Rashid, MacColl's AWW team were involved in an incident that may have had an impact on the father of two. Three Somali pirate skiffs were intercepted by the frigate. The would-be pirates were subdued by a Royal Marine boarding team while their boats were set ablaze and sank by MacColl's AWW crewmates.

The frigate has been involved in anti-piracy missions since February.

A month before MacColl's ship docked in Dubai for reprovisioning and refuelling, the frigate was involved in a high-risk takedown of a suspicious dhow in the Indian Ocean.

When Marines and Royal Navy crew boarded the dhow, they found 70 bales of pure cocaine stashed away under deck in an engine-room compartment. When it was weighed and assessed, the illicit 180-kilogram haul had an estimate value of nearly Dh100 million.

The dhow had been stopped based on information supplied to counter-narcotics authorities.

And last year, HMS Westminster played a key role in Nato operations in enforcing no-fly resolutions over Libya as rebels fought dictator Muammar Gaddafi's regime. The frigate was deployed on anti-aircraft picket duties, watching out from hostile aircraft trying to attack rebel on the ground and Nato planes in the sky.

"There is nothing to suggest that his role on board the ship had anything to do with his disappearance," Lieutenant Commander Mark Hankey of the Royal Navy told Gulf News yesterday.

"This case is highly unusual," he said from the Combined Maritime Forces command centre based in Bahrain. "We simply don't have cases of servicemen going AWOL (Absent WithOut Leave) any more."

Hankey said that Dubai Police was taking the lead role in the investigation.

"Obviously the Royal Navy, the Ministry of Defence, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the British Embassy in Dubai are working very closely with Dubai Police," he said. "But it's quite baffling for every one that it's been three weeks without any movement in the case."

A reward has been offered through a text message circulated to all Dubai taxi drivers.

A spokesman for Hampshire Police, the local constabulary for MacColl's home of Gosport, told Gulf News yesterday that they hadn't received any new information in the case and were passing on any leads to the Ministry of Defence.

MacColl's wife, 25-year-old Rachael is expecting the couple's third child in October and friends of the family have organised a website www.bringtimmyhome.co.uk to keep the case fresh and to try and generate new leads in his baffling, sudden disappearance.

Officials in Dubai are keeping a close watch on local morgues and hospitals in the event a body matching MacColl's turns up.

So far, nothing.

"That's clearly good news for the family," Dr Davidsson said. "In this type of a case you can never rule out anything, but it is very unusual."

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:7UNIT
Date:Jun 17, 2012
Words:662
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