My name is Paddy Doyle. I am researching material for a personal family book about their deceased husband and father, Lionel Whitehead. I came across your website while doing that. Lionel was an engineer on Royalist prior to and at the time of the engine room breakdown at sea. I realise your site seems to be limited to those involved in communications but I was wondering if you could point me in the direction of where I might find information about other crew like Lionel who served on Royalist.

As an aside, I had a tenuous connection with Royalist myself. I was in the original Police Dive Squad who did the Navy diving course at Philomel. One of the exercises was to jump off the bow of Royalist which was at that time moored in the basin, (32 feet as I recall) and then climb up a jacob’s ladder back to the deck! Great fun !! Kind regards Paddy Doyle

If you assist Paddy in his quest please email him on


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  1. Frank Rands says:

    The name Whitehead is not on the crew list for the last commission.

  2. Jim D says:

    Good photo that. Anyone know where and when it was taken?

  3. Frank Rands says:

    Jim D, I believe the image was taken 13th August 1962 when Royalist was off Vancouver, Canada.

  4. Jim D says:

    That’s not a bad guess Frank…

  5. Dave Wistrand says:

    Related (but only just) When CS42 completed their Basic Training at Tamaki in April 1963 we were posted to Philomel and I remember one “old” salt taking us to his locker in one of the Philomel dormitories, He was an ex crew member of the 1962 USA cruise mentioned above – Anyway on his locker door was the first photo our lot had ever seen of a Playboy Bunny Centrefold in all her errr glory – this was quite staggering to 16 year old just ex schoolboys and will just leave it at that.

  6. gunther says:

    i remember when on leave in the early seventies,(72 or 73) working as a seagull on the wharfs, and being navy they put two of us in the bond store..where low and behold all these pallets of playboy magazines..(along with barrels of whiskey/bourbon etc) so when it was quiet (nearly all the time) we pulled out magazines and read them. the whiskey and bourbon was another story..

  7. Frank Rands says:

    Posted on behalf of Ian Jacques – Hi Paddy, I seem to remember a person of similar name who was a crew member on the Navy Reserve launch that came up the Opawa River in Blenheim in the mid fifties and I befriended him and ended getting a trip, along with a few others, out to the Wairau Bar before she sailed back to Wellington where she was based. The HQ for the Navy Reserve is HMNZS Olphert c/ Defence HQ. He would have in his early 20s then. Must have been about 1955 thru 58. They may have some record. You the same Doyle ex Wgtn Central in the 70/80s? I was on section 4 with Hamill Sleeth Carmichael and co.

    Ian Jacques (Jakesy)

  8. Jim D says:

    More info from Paddy Doyle:
    Some more info on Lionel Navy career from his writing. He joined in 1964 as a ERA 3 on Royalist. Sailed in April with GG Bernard Fergusson and family to 32 Pacific Islands then to 5th Cruiser Squadron in Far East. He mentions the trials of Refueling at Sea (RAS) and other tales. On one occasion RAS Taranaki when on completion they mortared Royalist with toilet paper. Commander at the time was a Captain Turner. Lionel was known in the navy as Vic Whitehead.

  9. DJR says:

    The tug belongs to C H Cates & Sons Towing, generally known as Cates Towing, which was the primary shipdocking tug outfit in the Port of Vancouver for much of the 20th Century.
    Cates was absorbed into the SeaSpan empire in 1989.
    Not having a number on the wheelhouse this was probably just a line handling vessel.

  10. Mike lodge says:

    I was on the Royalist from 63 to 66. I remember when we broke down due to salt water contamination of the feed water system, the Dampier came alongside to tow us off a Reef but we put a bloody big hole in her. I was on the Mess deck and next minute I was looking at the Chief Stoker shaving on the Dampier!
    It was terrible site watching them cut up the Royalist. She could have been used as a training ship.

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