Warrant Officer Radio Supervisor Gary Rzepecky

Just to advise that one of our shipmates, Ex Warrant Officer Radio Supervisor Gary Rzepecky has been diagnosed with a health issue for which the prognosis is not too good. Zeppy as we fondly know him, has a faulty heart valve, damaged heart muscle and damage to his lungs. He is going to have an angio and then another echogram to see if anything can be done to extend his prognosis of two years.


He has had to give up work, will be going on a terminal benefit. Not allowed to fly, drive, drink alcohol, eat fish and chips or carry out any physical activity. Spare a thought for our shipmate and his wife Anne, and family.  If you wish to send Zeppy a private message, please forward to zeponthames@xtra.co.nz

Posted in General Updates | Leave a comment


Back in 1978 I was posted to the DDCEW Cell, Naval Staff, Wellington (HMNZS Wakefield).

In November 1978, the RNZN conducted a “Longex” exercise which included USS NIAGARA FALLS. Before the exercise began, the USS Niagara Falls and HMNZS Otago were berthed in Suva, Fiji. I was tasked with delivering a classified bag each in Suva. I delivered Otago’s bag, then I delivered Niagara Falls bag which was berthed behind Otago to a Radioman Chief (RMC) Jerry Whitworth who was the Niagara Falls communications officer. I duly returned to Auckland on the Niagara Falls as the communications liaison officer. RMC Whitworth was the perfect host and it was a great experience for me. I had access to their “Radio Central” (BWO/MCO). The only thing I was not allowed to look at was any signal that had a classification “NOFORN” written on it, which meant “No Foreign Eyes”.

After arrival back in Auckland, I disembarked USS Niagara Falls, and subsequently hosted RMC Jerry Whitworth during his stay. It was the least I could do after the hospitality shown by him and other Niagara Falls crew, including their Captain.

Now the interesting part, a USN Chief Warrant Officer and communications specialist, a John A Walker was the number 1 KGB asset during much of the Cold War. Walker befriended Jerry Whitworth, who would become a Navy senior chief petty officer/senior chief radioman, agreed to help Walker access highly classified communications data in 1973. A transfer had stopped Walker’s access to the data the Soviets wanted, but he recruited Whitworth to keep the data flowing—softening the idea of espionage by telling him the data would go to Israel, an ally of the United States.
This espionage ring was all happening, and had been so for a number of years, even while I was being hosted by Whitworth onboard his ship, and later in Auckland while I was his host in 1978.

To me Whitworth was just like anybody else you come in contact with. There was absolutely nothing to suspect that was suspicious during our time together. In fact he gave me his home address in San Francisco where his family lived if I ever wanted to visit him.

The YouTube link below was produced for Office of U.S. Naval Intelligence and Naval Investigative Service Command and can be viewed by clicking HERE or for further reading click HERE

John Walker has since died 2014 in a Federal Prison in North Carolina.

Jerry Alfred Whitworth was sentenced to 365 years for his part in the Walker family spy ring, which, at the time of Whitworth’s arrest, US authorities described as “the most damaging espionage ring uncovered in the United States in three decades.


Whitworth (now 77) is located at Atwater, US Penitentiary , and his release date is 15 March 2196.  For his Federal Prison link click HERE and type in 78095-011

Thanks John B for the interesting tale.  Remember Communicators BE VILIGENT!

Posted in General Updates | 3 Comments





Brent Bramley has made initial enquiries for the production of a Lapel Badge based on the above photo to commemorate the loss of the 74 from the USS Frank E Evans on 3 June 1969. This badge is suitable for wearing with your Civilian Dress on Formal and Informal occasions.

Anticipated cost, which includes postage to your home address from Australia is NZ$15, or, within Australia AU$12. A minimum of fifty pre paid orders is required, or the costs will rise considerably. Payment within New Zealand can be made direct to my Co-Operative Bank (PSIS) Account, and will not attract Overseas Transfer Fees. Payment in Australia can be made direct to my Westpac Account.

Expressions of interest are called for from all Blackpool shipmates of the 1968 -1969 Far East Trip. Please PM me, or email: brentbramley@optusnet.com.au – advising how many Badges you want.

Can you all also bring this notice to the attention of those shipmates who are not on internet, as I’m sure that all of us would like to pay our respects to the 74 of the Frank E Evans each and every time we put our tiddly Civvie rig on!!

Posted in General Updates | 1 Comment


This is an image of some of the ships company of HMNZS IRIRANGI taken outside the Frigate Block in Waiouru Camp.  When was it taken – Late 1976/early 1977 What was the occasion – Funny hat competition,  and can you name any of these sailors?


L-R   Stan Stobie, Mick Burrett, Dave Johnson (EO),  Jock Hilton, Wade Marshall, Lloyd Mitchell, Woolf Walsh, Ron Bryant,, Lawrence Hunt, ?, ?, David Jones, Frank Maika, ?, Dave Paku, ?, Hooky Walker, ?, George Randall, ?, Ian Napier

Posted in General Updates | 6 Comments

Plastic Sandals

Does anyone know when Plastic Sandals were first issued in the RNZN.  I joined in 1966 and they were certainly part of my kit but others may remember them much earlier. Please leave a comment to this post.  Thanks  Frank



Posted in General Updates | 17 Comments

Navy Helicopter Operations 50th Anniversary Veterans Open Day – 9 Sep 16

Greetings to all Veterans, Ex Servicemen and Women;

Calling all pilots, engineers, observers, helicopter loadmasters and support crew involved in Navy helo operations.

It’s been 50 years since New Zealand first took delivery of several Westland HAS Mk1 Wasp helicopters. Today naval helicopter operations are supported by No. 6 Squadron, operating the Kaman SH-2G(I) Seasprite from our ships.

On 9 September, we are recognising 50 years of hard work with a veterans open day at Whenuapai Air Force Base. We’d like to invite anyone who’s been involved in Navy helo operations to attend with friends and family to celebrate with us, share stories take a look at the new helos and flight simulator and see where their work has led us.


Thanks to Peter Lewis for the image

Events will begin at 1000 with an open day, hangar and simulator tours followed by a light lunch at the base preceding a Parade at 1400.

Please bring your children, grandchildren and friends to see how our current helo operations run, share dits with past colleagues and talk with the fleet today.

To register your interest to attend the commemorative events email 50YrsNavalHelo@nzdf.mil.nz

What: 50th Anniversary of Naval Helo Operations Vets Open Day
Where: Whenuapai Airforce Base, Whenuapai, Auckland
When: Friday, 9 September
Time: 1000 – 1500


Posted in General Updates | 1 Comment


This is an object of the past and I doubt that many of the current day communicators would have ever seen anything like it.  This particular bug belonged to an old and nold and was used regularly at HMNZS IRIRANGI in the 60’s.  Maybe WORS Bevan Lawes can recognise it and advise who the Operator might have been.  Or there maybe other communicators who owned similar devices and recognise this key.  If you still have your bug send a image of it and I will upload to the blog.


and another Key.  This time pinched, stolen, obtained from the Air Force what did MCU stand for?….  Operator will rename nameless..


This Key is owned by Paddy Long and was used extensively at Irirangi – 69 thru about 75 ….    69 was my first of three postings to ZLO :-} … the key also served on Taranaki, Paea and Canterbury !   Thanks Paddy.


Posted in General Updates | 5 Comments