Memoirs

DID YOU KNOW?

On 6 November 1947, WG (Gary) Stokes joined HMNZS Tamaki as a Boy Entry. Later his five sons all joined the RNZN – one a year for five years. Lyle in January 1971, Wayne in May 1972, Shane in January 1973, Brian in January 1974 and Glen in January 1975.

A NAVAL CAREER IN THE EYES OF COLIN ROSS – Pt. 47

The Ancient Mariners geared up in 1999 to attend the Air NZ Golden Oldies Festival in Adelaide.  This rugby festival was to finish a week before the Melbourne Cup.  I had always had a vision of attending one of these iconic horse races but there was the issue of what to do for a week prior to the race. Having always been intrigued by Outback Australia I picked up a few brochures and decided on one that would take me from Adelaide up to Alice Springs and then I could fly back to Melbourne for the cup. The more I looked at this outback tour the better I liked it.  It was departing Melbourne the Saturday of the final Golden Oldies dinner so I could travel north and pick up the tour on the Monday when it reached Dubbo.  Kerry also got interested in it so decided she would fly over and make a s...

A NAVAL CAREER IN THE EYES OF COLIN ROSS – Pt. 46

As previously indicated I had been enticed back to rugby.  The Navy Water Rats were playing in the local Presidents grade and the Ancient Mariners were set up to take part in the Air NZ Golden Oldie Festivals.  As I have related I first attended the one in Perth in 1991. The next one was in 1993 in UK and the cost was too much for most of us to attend, however in 1995 the festival was in Christchurch.  To reduce the cost we undertook all sorts of fundraisers.  From barn dances to stock taking and even laying a concrete drive. We flew to Christchurch in beautiful weather arriving the Saturday afternoon that Auckland had taken the Ranfurly Shield off Canterbury.  This was announced just before we landed so one of the things we did over the next week was to ensure we related to everyone we ca...

A NAVAL CAREER IN THE EYES OF COLIN ROSS – Pt. 41

In my memory 1993 was a year of surveying a lot and also spending a lot of time underway at sea.  It started with a bit of maintenance then off to the Bay of Islands for Waitangi day.  We were not deeply involved in the ceremonial part but the ship’s boats seemed to be in constant demand to transport people around. As most people remember one of the highlights of the ceremony at Waitangi is when the ships in the bay illuminate after sunset.  We were sitting bow on to Waitangi with the wind and tide, most other ships had the ability to flash up main engines and with their big propellers utilising one engine ahead the other astern could bring the ship’s head around to be beam on to illuminate and be spectacularly visible to the shore when they illuminated. Unfortunately, although we had main...

On re-joining as a CPO within the first month I had an Instructional Technique course.  For someone who had never been instructing this was a lifesaver and I guess an eye opener.  I suddenly realised that you may think you know a subject but actually teaching it was a different ball game.  It was also a great confidence booster being able to stand up in front of a group of people and educate them as well as yourself at the same time.  I would have to say that I thought I knew most of the engineering subjects I was required to pass on to young crew members but through teaching in the school I certainly learnt a lot more and also learnt some things about myself. I taught the Leading Hands Professional Course and also the Advanced Diesel Course.  So there was a bit of variety and depth of kno...

A NAVAL CAREER IN THE EYES OF COLIN ROSS – Pt. 39

On re-joining as a CPO within the first month I had an Instructional Technique course.  For someone who had never been instructing this was a lifesaver and I guess an eye opener.  I suddenly realised that you may think you know a subject but actually teaching it was a different ball game.  It was also a great confidence booster being able to stand up in front of a group of people and educate them as well as yourself at the same time.  I would have to say that I thought I knew most of the engineering subjects I was required to pass on to young crew members but through teaching in the school I certainly learnt a lot more and also learnt some things about myself. I taught the Leading Hands Professional Course and also the Advanced Diesel Course.  So there was a bit of variety and depth of kno...

A NAVAL CAREER IN THE EYES OF COLIN ROSS – Pt. 38

At the end of 1984 it was time to hand over and post off CANTERBURY.  I was posted back into the Fleet Maintenance Unit to complete my naval service.  Being discharged at the end of March 1995 having completed twenty years and three months. Having joined the navy straight from school I had no experience of looking for a job.  Luckily I heard through the grape vine that North Shore Hospital were looking for a shift engineer, so with CV I applied and was pretty relieved to win the position. So after a farewell from Devonport I started the following Monday at the hospital.  It was a job I loved and the best times were when all the day workers had left the site you became the go to person.  It was also a revelation in that you were in a sense working for or with women. This was a huge change f...

At the end of 1984 it was time to hand over and post off CANTERBURY.  I was posted back into the Fleet Maintenance Unit to complete my naval service.  Being discharged at the end of March 1995 having completed twenty years and three months. Having joined the navy straight from school I had no experience of looking for a job.  Luckily I heard through the grape vine that North Shore Hospital were looking for a shift engineer, so with CV I applied and was pretty relieved to win the position. So after a farewell from Devonport I started the following Monday at the hospital.  It was a job I loved and the best times were when all the day workers had left the site you became the go to person.  It was also a revelation in that you were in a sense working for or with women. This was a huge change f...

A NAVAL CAREER IN THE EYES OF COLIN ROSS – Pt. 36

We sailed for RIMPAC with the other fifty plus ships and had been divided into two opposing forces.  In the fleet were included the Japanese Navy and I believe this was the first time they had participated.  The Japanese Navy at the time was a purely defence force but their vessels were modern and pretty impressive. For the next ten or so days we powered around the Pacific carrying out all sorts of actions.  The most impressive feature was being plane guard to one of the American nuclear aircraft carriers.  To take up and remain in station we were almost at full power for extended periods while they flew off their aircraft. Watching the carrier spit out aircraft was really mind-boggling.  No sooner did one take to the air than the next was being fired along the flight deck in its wake. Pow...

A NAVAL CAREER IN THE EYES OF COLIN ROSS – Pt. 35

CANTERBURY departed Devonport at the beginning of the colder weather in NZ and was good to be heading north to a warmer climate.  The first day was full of the usual leaving harbour drills and from then on it was various exercises to get everyone up to speed for the expected RIMPAC requirements. We stopped off and fuelled at Pago Pago which I was starting to feel was almost a second home with the number of times I had been here to fuel.  We left Pago Pago and were to join up with the Australian Navy ships also going to RIMPAC. The day we expected to join them the ocean was clear, no ships.  The CO decided they must have been around behind the island we were just transitioning past so flew the Wasp off to go round and check behind the Island.  Just after the Wasp departed we altered course ...

A NAVAL CAREER IN THE EYES OF COLIN ROSS – Pt. 32

Once we had fuelled and departed from our tanker escort we had a long drag down to Pago Pago to ensure we continued carrying out the required pre-refit trials.  The weather as I recall although calm and flat was mostly overcast with high cloud obscuring the tropical sun. One of the things that remains focused about this part of the trip was the obvious sudden realisation in NZ that we may get this additional ship home to join the fleet as all of a sudden we started getting increasing signal traffic about our arrival home. The outstanding event that occurred was the saga of the helicopter.  The original intention was that on arrival alongside the Wasp would be lifted off onto a truck and transported to Hobsonville. Some bright spark had a sudden idea of flying the chopper off as we came up ...

A NAVAL CAREER IN THE EYES OF COLIN ROSS – Pt. 33

Returning from Xmas leave everyone was refreshed and ready to tackle the refit and conversion.  By mid January the crew had been pared down to a minimum manning level to safely accomplish the requirements of the refit. The first task for ships staff was the marking and removal of all the boiler internal gear.  The registration off all parts being removed from the ship was recorded on master sheets with where it came from and where it was being removed to.  This becomes really important when you are trying to find equipment that has been removed to either overhaul it or later in the refit to replace it on board. The other issue we had to tidy up was LACHLAN.  It was being utilised as the ship staff refit facility for the first time so we had to spend time setting up the workshop on board as...

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