The Deep-Sea Scout Branch of the Scout Movement was formed in 1928 as a birthday present to the founder, Baden-Powell. It was officially launched in July of that year and was announced in the Headquarters Gazette in the August, with it being reported as far afield as the New York Times (external link). The first conference of Deep Sea Scouts was held at the “Coming of Age” World Jamboree held at Arrow Park, Birkenhead in 1929.
The aims of the branch were to enable Scouts afloat to get in touch with their fellow Scouts in ports throughout the world and to afford them the opportunity for continuing their Scouting activities in their sea-going profession. Originally, Scouts working on ships could join the Deep Sea Scouts, sometimes forming ships’ DSS crew. Armed with a list of worldwide contacts, they could remain active in the Movement on their travels and keep up-to-date with our seasonal magazine “Scouts in Ships”. Such crew included the 1st HMS Kelantan Deep-Sea Rover Scout Crew, the crew aboard the aircraft carrier HMS Glory (external link) and the aircraft carrier HMS Theseus (external link).
A peak was achieved of over 3000 members, but as the Merchant Navy and Royal Navy have shrunk in size, so did the membership of Deep Sea Scouts.
Previously the Branch had been run by the Headquarters Programme and Training Department at Gilwell. But with changing times it was found that the Branch would benefit by moving to come under the umbrella of the National Scout Fellowship. As a result, from 5th April 1991, it was decided the Branch would be known as the Deep Sea Scout Fellowship, operating as an autonomous unit within the Scout Fellowship. This has allowed us to incorporate members that have served at sea, friends and relations of serving or served members, and to keep the number of Deep Sea Scouts viable.
As from 2010, with the advent of Scout Active Support Units, the name was changed back to the original name of “Deep Sea Scouts”.
Today, the Deep Sea Scout membership list includes serving and retired members of the Armed Forces, officers and crew in the Merchant Navy, fishermen, yachtsmen and women, oceanographers and many others who have strong connections to the sea.