These are a collection of memories from Able Radio Operator David Wistrand of his time on HMNZS HAKU P3565.
I joined HMNZS Haku in January 1967 – Four of us ex the home delivery voyage of HMNZS Santon from Singapore to the UK (returned in December 1966) were subsequently posted in the New Year to Haku. They were:
Coxswain PO Regulator Stan Harper
POME Egbert Humphries (Humphreys?)
Able Seaman Tom Dooley
The others on board were:
Lt (RNZNVR) Brian Allpress
Able Seaman Barry Sadgrove
ME 1 Shorty Kane
EM1 Had just posted off and a new one arrived who lasted a trip to Tauranga and back and then got replaced as well.
(in remembering these names the vision blurs so don’t take it as gospel)
If I remember rightly sailed in the next few days for 1967 Waitangi Day celebration which was spent ferrying people around between various ships and places for the weekend. This was followed by a fishery patrol around to the West Coast, to Onehunga at least, but remember at one time being in New Plymouth and poking our nose into Patea.
I left in August the same year. Volunteered to do an EW Conversion Course to avoid the Commodores inspection but the timing was out so did the inspection anyway and then the course.
Take it you have the radio fit out etc so wont go into that but we used to monitor Single Operator periods on the RNZN Morse broadcast WV’s 0800 to 1000 then 1200 to 1400 then 1600 to 1800 and 2000 to 2200. On the Haku I would come off the last sked and take the wheel until 2359.
Events I remember.
- In the Bay of Plenty the CO was rowed ashore at Whale Island to observe FFV activity. We spied him waving frantically so the dinghy was rowed ashore to pick him up and Haku raced out to intercept the FFV inside NZ’s 3 miles zone. The arrest was made and plans to enter Whakatane were made but this turned out to be unsafe due to weather and instead entered Tauranga escorting the FFV. From what I can gather the law was in such a state it was unworkable – but in the end the dory and catch were confiscated. Some months later we were sailing out of Wellington and it was rough as guts and I received a signal in (cannot remember to code Britex?) but it was a one time pad book code that was never used. I had done it once under basic training so took a while to sort out and it said “Well Done” the CO from the NZ Naval Board – The CO was pleased but was painful at the time.
- It wasn’t long after that we were in the Bay of Islands again and it was arranged we take an ex UK Army General and another hanger on for a trip around the Bay of Islands. Got to the hole in the wall at Piercy Island and it was decided to give it a go. Bad luck caught a wave half way through and smashed the port bow into the rocks. Came out the other side with a 2 foot square hole above the waterline. We made a patch of canvas and tacked it on, painted it black with a white strip to match the rest of the boat and motored into Opua for repairs. A shipwright came up from Auckland and put a temporary repair in place, the CO got the local reporter drunk and nothing more was ever heard of it.
- Another time we were alongside in Russell for the night and in the morning switched the radio on for the sked and it wouldn’t work. CO who was an ex RNZNVR Radio Operator said have a look and spot the obvious, so pulled the radio out and poked around and saw a valve that wasn’t glowing and said we needed a replacement. Next day one arrived via NZ Road Services but before I plugged it in, flashed up the radio again and it worked. Reported that the replacement valve was the right one, pat on the back and away we went.
- Were in Bluff when decimal currency changed sailed for Stewart Island on the day before and come back a few days later and it was all over. Delivered DOC staff around two or three sites. Went dear hunting (of which I had done some) with the 303 onboard. Took a shot at one bounding through the scrub and was promptly relieved of the rifle. Only other event was bouncing on the bottom of some bay in the south of the island, just a bounce but time to leave. In Half Moon Bay went to the pub with a transistor radio I could hear the WV Broadcast on (MCW) but forgot my pen so had to borrow one from the barman (no signals anyway)
- Same trip we were in Bluff and the lads went to a local dance. Wall to wall women and no blokes (or very few) so we kept dancing with the prettier ones each time but sadly got pissed again and left alone. Next morning had hangovers like hell so when the weather forecast came through added some height to the waves and knots to the winds which made it dodgy to sail so stayed another day.
- New Plymouth ashore again drinking the cocktail of the moment “Chocolate Soldiers: (tia maria, brandy and orange in equal parts) sailed in the morning, let go the ropes and vomited all over the stern. Those were the days.
- Also remember being alongside in Onehunga so got dressed in our number 8’s tiddly while polo neck jersey’s and sea boats and went in Queen Street in Auckland and hung out being big time sailors from the ML’s and impressing the young sailors who were ashore in regular uniform. Also in Onehunga we were loafing around in the forward cabin playing cards when the CO came on board ropeable. He had spied a beer bottle floating down past the ship and thought we had been drinking and had thrown it out the porthole. Took him a while to settle down and in the end was quite happy we were just loafing.
- Were in Opua again and four of us went for a beer (in Kawakawa) from the pub ended up in a farmhouse miles away at a party. Sometime in the night Stan Harper arrived, he had tracked us down from the pub to the farm. The CO had been phoned and told we had to get a signal of ship shore. It was in code again. So couldn’t raise anyone along side so sailed and eventually received the signal and got it decoded and it was about a Russian Support vessel in the Antarctica . Never did find out who the PO of the Watch was in the Comcen in Auckland who was a dick.
- Would like to recognise Stan Harper as a gentleman coxswain. When we decommissioned Santon I was the postman with the seven pound postie fund. Tried to return it but no one wanted it back so in the end one of the AB’s had a birthday (Portsmouth) so spent the seven pounds on a lunchtime beer for us all. Got back onboard and the Subby want the money. Explained the circumstance and was told to see if I could borrow it or was for the high jump. No one had any money which was why it was spend in the first place but Stan heard and loaned me the money which I paid when we got home.
- Nelson – Forget what happened but hung over again the CO was spitting tacks so decided to sail and teach the crew a lesson about drinking to excess. Believe his plan was to get us sick as dogs etc. Guess who was the only one to get sea sick, but by the next morning was a nice day and all was forgiven.
If you want to read more Salty Dits on the ML’s see Books Sailors have Written under the Adverts Tab – Salty Dits by Gerry Wright.
What has become of some of these naval vessels – click on images to enlarge.