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Archive for the tag “HMNZS Waikato”

In The Navy…The Captain’s Chair

If only the Captain's Chair was this comfy!

There is no more sacred place on a warship than the seat on the bridge where the Captain sits on watch…this is generally off-limits to anyone and everyone else unless by invite (as my ‘little brother’ was). Sometimes on night watches when I was on the bridge as Assistant Officer of the Watch (AOOW) and required to maintain visual from the front of the bridge, the officer of the Watch (OOW) used to sit in it giving off the impression he had seniority to do so…lazy pricks…you should have seen them jump on those occasions the Captain did pop up to the bridge unexpected!

Anyway this story is leading somewhere… Read more…


Sure-fire way to become sterile (not recommended)…

I am reading a book at the moment that made reference to something about radar emissions making men sterile, and it reminded me of a ditty from my time in the Navy – I laugh at it now, but back then, and for a while after I didn’t think so.

HMNZS Waikato in Procedure Alpha


At the time I was posted on HMNZS Waikato (F55) and from memory we were returning into Auckland Harbour after a three-month long cruise around Aussie, up through Asia and back home via an unscheduled stopover in Fiji. As it had been such a long tour of duty, entering harbour required all crew except those required on duty to be lined up on the upper decks in full formal dress in a manner known as Procedure Alpha. This is quite a sight with ratings lined up around the entire waist of the ship (the flush deck) while officers were assembled around the upper decks and bridge. My ‘station’ was above and slightly aft (toward the rear) of the bridge.

We were all in position by (no relation) the time the ship approached Alpha Buoy which indicates the start of the entry into harbour, and it would take about an hour to enter and berth alongside Calliope Wharf in the Devonport Naval Base. So here we were. lined up like penguins in warmer than normal conditions and pretty much just doing that…standing. About half an hour since lining up the WEO (Weapons Electrical Officer) wandered out onto the bridge wing (a balcony off the bridge) to take his position when he happened to look up at us lined up. He just stared for what seemed like minutes before muttering; “That’s right, I was meant to turn off the ‘whips’!” Whips are the term used for the multitude of aerials located around the ship. Each of these have a red circle painted about 2m across with a warning worded something like this; NO STANDING INSIDE AREA FOR LONGER THAN 10 OUT OF EVERY 60MINS.

Arrow marks where we stood frying our testes...


Shit! So for all we knew, standing there at least half an hour non-stop, our ‘swimmers’ were nuked beyond recognition giving us the likelihood of producing 6-fingered off-spring!

PS…as a lot of you know this had little or no effect on my bullocks…however Katie thinks it minced my brain instead!

Government-Funded Drinking…

It would be fair to say that the public perception of navy personnel centres around either women or drinking. In this ditty, I will explain that even the most hardened of drinkers can be bettered, and by who?

Waka-too, The War Canoe

I was on HMNZS Waikato at the time, and after our ‘work up’ in Aussie, we proceeded on a three-month tour around Aussie into South East Asia with a return to NZ via Indonesia (and at the time, a transit inside the Great Barrier Reef, however circumstances had us detour, but that’s another story).

I was flatting with a mate who was also in the Navy, was a rating on Waikato as a Steward (similar to a waiter I guess) to me and my fellow Officers. When we embarked on this trip, for reasons that escape me at this time, we made a pact that we were to lay off the booze for this trip. All went well until we got into Port Klang which is the entry into Kuala Lumpur. After the normal processes in docking, we hosted a Cocktail Party on board (there are some beaut tales of these too) for local dignataries which I was to attend as host, and Harry in his normal duties. During this party, I befriended a local who was a business owner, and he and his wife offered me a lift into KL afterwards in their chauffeur driven limo.

I got Harry to get ready and we were driven in, shown some of the special places around town such as the King’s Palace (where they were dining the following night) and they set us down into the night life district so we could have some fun – as an aside, I had found out my girlfriend of the time was sleeping with someone else in my absence, so I was keen to make amends, but that’s another story yet again.

The place they directed us too was the place to be and outside on the ‘specials’ board was details of what was on and specials on drinks, and the one of notice was that a pitcher of beer was $14 Ringitt which equated to about $NZD3-4, and our reasoning was that the Cokes and orange juice we had gotten by the last month would be cheap as chips.

I bought the first round and fuck me if they didn’t cost $18MR for the two! I handed Harry his drink, and without saying anything, we decided together to hit the piss, and make up for lost time. We started on the pitchers and you would have thought we had been lost in a desert for months that speed in which we consumed, and soon fellow shipmates had joined us and we owned a corner of the club where locals and tourists alike (an Aussie lass to a real shine to me) joined in our party. As is with these carry ons, we started having sculling races with these pitchers (the equivalent of at least a couple of long necks here). When the local bar owner/manager came over, we thought we were going to be asked to leave, but instead he showed his appreciation of our skills and invited us to take part a drinking competition they held there regularly.

The Aussie I met in the bar...

The boys nominated me and a another shipmate (name escapes me, he was a Greenie which is in the Weapons and Electrical branch) and sometime later we were stood on stage with a menagerie of other people made up of some locals and other tourists (including the Aussie bird who after as many pitchers as I had was looking quite desirable). We were then handed our glasses of beer, about the size of a 12 ounce or schooner and me and my Navy mate just looked at each other thinking this is a breeze; I remember saying to him I could snort it up my left nostril quicker than the others could drink it. That is until they passed us our straws!

The harsh reality...

When the ‘go’ was given I was amazed at how hard it was to drink through a straw quickly, at least I should say beer, and I really struggled. At one point my mate complained that his straw wasn’t working to which I yelled out the side of my mouth it was due to the fact he had his pressed against the base of the glass! I finished, and actually thought I had won only to find the winner was a five-foot nothing Malaysian girl (I say girl as she looked all of 18) who had not only finished but by the time I had finished (into second place) she had walked off the stage and received her prize!!!!

Talk about being put in your place…although I did cherish my prize, a locally made green-tea cup.

PS…some time later that night (actually the following morning), I was awoken by the Third-in-Command of Waikato as he found me where I fell asleep…no word of a lie, I was climbing down the ladder that lead from the deck just under the bridge to the Officers Quarters, but had my chin rested on the lip of the hatch opening I was gong down through…so was asleep standing up. He generally was very stern and disciplined, but even he admitted he was impressed and let me crawl into my pit without a further mention.

OK, this is my bed, but where's my ship?

In the Navy…The Gunnery Range

>When a RNZN Ship comes out of refit (a process to cover the rust with more layers of paint, fill the hold in with new cement, restock the bar fridges etc) they then ship off to Aussie for Sea Acceptance Trials (SATs) which is a sort of a WOF for warships. It involves a series of different exercises including speed trials, fire fighting drills, war games, and gunnery (or weapons) testing.

The old (now retired and sunken) HMNZS Waikato (F55) was carrying out such gunnery testing off Beecroft Peninsula using it’s 4.5″ twin turret. Nowadays turrets on warships are automatic, hydraulics and electronics load, aim and fire on targets over the horizon, however the Mk6 Mod 4 guns on “The Waka-tooo” (Waka-too, the War Canoe) were completely manual – “Gunners” (Gunna do this, Gunner do that) manually loaded shells (High Explosive, Armour Piercing, Star Shell etc) and cartridges full of cordite into a breech and rammed them shut. The Principal Warfare Officer, deep down in the bowels of the ship in the Ops Room and his team would load figures into what barely passed as a computer that would swing the turret onto its target (or close enough to it) and then a person cramped into a small space in top of the turret looking out a little window would confirm ‘gun on the range’ – this would be acknowledged back down below and then a moment of silence before the shells would be fired at their target up to 25,000 yards (about 12 miles) away.

Well this day off Beecroft, I was asked to be “Captain of the Turret” which was pretty cool as Officers weren’t normally ‘invited’ into the Gunner’s realm and it is about as close as you can get to the the shooting. Laid off the range about 10kms away, my job was to visually confirm the gun was aimed between two large coloured signs indicating the extreme edges of the range so falling shot would not put anyone (like the observation tower) at risk. Our helicopter was also flying above the range to provide ‘fall of shot’.

I called ‘gun on the range’ after judging the turrets were in fact aimed between the signs and the guns roared. Silence as everyone waited for the tell tale ‘puffs’ on the land…but I didn’t see any looking out my little window, but the first thing I heard was “Check! Check! Check!” in a thick Aussie accent. This came from the observation tower as our shells landed within a mile of them!!!! We were somewhere in the region of 5 miles off target!!!!

And of course you know who was to blame!

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