HMS Fife D-20
Blanco Encalada D-15
Message Board

May 8, 2018

I am a retired member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, working in British Columbia Canada. I was trailing my wife around an antiques shop in West Vancouver the other day and came across this silver dish (showing below) for sale in the shop. I assume this is from the Officer's mess on board, not the "Other Ranks". Upon seeing this, I googled the name and read about the HMS Fife. Luckily it is the only ship ever named that, as far as I can tell. Thought it might be of interest to you and your members/associates. This dish is a long way from home!

Roy Bergerman


June 22, 2017

I'm looking for an old boyfriend who was serving on HMS Fife in 1983 called Paul Davies (Jan), I think he was a chef and was originally from Cornwall,I also remember him having a so called Kevin,I think.Any news would be appreciated.

Many thanks,
Evelyn O'Neill

May 1, 2017

I was on H.M.S. Fife 69/71, I also remember the big fire, and the refit in Malta. I too remember Pete Hubble, Fred Mckay, Knobby Clarke, Zombie Pitcher, Buck Taylor, Jono Johnstone and many more. Also my brother
in-law ,Paddy Ed Kiely ex AB, sadly passed away in 1999, who also served on the Fife from 68/71. I also remember Captain Scott, as I was the youngest on board in 69, so cut the commissioning cake in Chatham, with his wife.

Chris (pusser) Hills

Apr. 11, 2017

We were sister ships up the Far East in the early seventies. Had a group of lads off the Fife on board. Special mate was a 3 badgeman nicknamed Huggie,  gunner, who got pissed on squirt on the day he was meant to rejoin Fife, happened 24hrs later. Love to meet with those guys sometime,  have a photo somewhere.

Ian Jacques (Jake) ex Signalman
My opponent on Waikato was Bones, gunner.

July 26, 2016

I joined the Fife September 1970 in Malta just as she was finishing the round the world cruise expo 70. Had the engine room fire after an exercise not long after I joined. When we got back to Pompy was in dry dock for what seemed like years me. Steve Roles and Phil Bradshaw ran the beer boat in the forward seaman's mess, ended up going AWOL for a couple of weeks. 14 days number 9s 30 days stoppage of leave and pay and a hundred pound fine. Steve got 60 days and Brad, I think he got dishonorable discharge after serving in dq s, I'm still in touch with Steve.

Paul "Yorky" Gilbey
A/B Radar

Apr. 29, 2016

Most interested to read your blogs from ex "Fifers". I served on her from 1976 to 1978 as a Sickbay Petty Officer my MA was Eddie Baines and my Doctors were Peter Brown followed by Sean Bennett. I lived in 4 Mess at the forward end of the Burma Way until my B13 came through then I had to move into the Chiefs Mess a few metres aft on the opposite side. I had a really happy time onboard and we had some good visits although not too far abroad. Quite a bit of time in the Med and I also found the Queens Jubilee Royal Yacht escort duties and visits very interesting. My run ashore "oppo" was usually Billy Budden the PO Reg.

Malcolm Baldwin
Dorset, U.K.

Apr. 5, 2016

I was on HMS Fife as well buck Taylor and his guitar solos, spent many a watch on bridge with Jim Reeves he usually got weather right lol he guys I'm trying to recall date and year when we had that major fire off cypress fill me in if you can seaman Steve Foley now in California since 1985 all the best shipmates.

Stephen Foley

Feb. 27, 2016

I was on the Fife for the round world trip in 1970 what a great ship that was, with a fantastic crew. The trip was great expo 70 Osaka, last ship in the navy to have the rum (Hawaii) last call Malta families flown out, only to be ruined if you like by a fire. Someone put about the POGI being injured, that was Ron Shindler, I was Gunners party and he was my boss, and yes being tied up in Malta was great. Would luv to hear from Pusser Hill, Fred Macky, Buck Taylor, or anyone else who wants to get in touch.

A.B. Barney Hubble
Gunners party

Reply 1
May 5, 2017

I recently read on your site about H.M.S. FIFE (D20), item number 26, Feb. 27, 2016 from A.B. Barney Hubble. I served with him , and I see he's trying yo contact me, Pusser Hills. Would it be possible to forward my e-mail address to him please?, as i would like to get in-contact with him.

Chris (pusser) Hills
H.M.S FIFE 69/71

Nov. 29, 2015

I was on the Fife for the 1st commission. I joined her after leaving HMS Cambridge gunnery school at Wembridge. I started on Fife in 1967 in Glasgow and left her in 1969 to go to HMS Osprey in Portland.

Bryan Mitchell
P/086644 ex seaman gunner

Oct. 18, 2015

Been going through my late father's (Gordon Walker) stuff and found this HMS Fife ships badge, I remember late 70's we took in sailors from Uk ships billeted to New Zealand families. I was approx 11 or 12 at the time and remember two sailors coming to stay at our house at Paekakariki, they gave this badge to our family. Fife berthed at Wellington, Paekakariki is a coastal town an hour away.

Ian Walker
Auckland, NZ

Ian has donated this badge to MaritimeQuest for preservation.

Sept. 13, 2015

I met a number of the HMS Fife crewmen on approximately May 21, 1987 at a Chicago restaurant. I owned a van at the time and I drove some of the crew to a pub. A galley #3 cook "Robbie" invited my girlfriend, sister and I to visit the ship. I married that girlfriend and in fact I told her I loved her for the first time in your ship - British soil. My wife and I hold that memory very dear. We visited Robbie and had a great time. Can you help me with info on Robbie and your last voyage as it docked at Chicago?

Eric Hann
Chicago, Illinois

May 16, 2015

I was the Naval Airman (Met) on Fife 1969 to 1971. My office was on the bridge. Ken Land was the Navs Yeo during same time.

Jim Reeves

Oct. 20, 2014

I served on fife 68 and 69 greenie we used two pubs near Gillingham Gate PRINCE OF GUINEA can't remember the other one stokers used it. Have a picture of Torrie Lau when we rescued 79 survivors when they got stuck on a reef. Did the world tour with Captain Cook.

Paul (taff) Jenkins
Bournemouth, U.K.

Aug. 18, 2014

Served on Fife as a Killick Bunting from 1st July 1975 to 9 October 1977. Did the Jubilee. Pretty good draft.

Bob Blackburn

July 2, 2014

I was another of those that traveled from Portsmouth to Glasgow for Fife's first commission. I was a junior Greenie. I even still have an identical pewter mug, just like the one in the photo. (Though a bit battered and worn now) I have a slight recollection of a PO Louth. I played rugby for the ship's team and was lucky enough to play in all the ports of call during that world cruise.

I especially remember being raided by the police during the after game celebrations in Washington D.C. They were a bit touchy at the time because of the recent race riots that had been happening throughout the United States. Possibly the most memorable thing I should recall is the fact that whilst in Sydney, Australia I was one of many (I suspect) that met up with some of the local talent (female). The one slight difference may be that last month we celebrated our 43rd wedding anniversary.

Graham (Robby) Robinson

June 11, 2014

I have a silver mug with the following inscription:

J. W. Louth
HMS Fife
1st Commission

I inherited this from my aunt, who was stationed in Europe during the mid 1970's.  She was a Command Sergeant Major in the U.S. Army.  I haven't been able to find any images or specific information about this mug or P. O. Louth. I would appreciate any information concerning its value and history.

Thank you so much,
Beth Pullen


May 13, 2014

I travelled with the rest of the ship's company by train from Portsmouth to Glasgow for Fife's 1st commission. I enjoyed the nine month world tour in 1968. Had some great runs ashore in Singers, Hong Kong, New Zealand, The States and so many more. I was a junior stoker at the time and I remember when we saved a ferry load of Fijians which had gone aground and we got freedom of the city of Suva. If you remember me, I still live in Poole, Dorset and sometimes meet up with Clive (Pusser) Hill. Names which I remember, Les Anscombe, Shiner Wright, Rigger Bolton, Jock Ellis, Sarny Craig, Frank Mulholland. If I remember any more I'll post them later.

Colin (Ted) Ray

Apr. 21, 2014

I joined Fife in early 1975 as a MEM.  The big fire was legendary, as also was colliding with Tidespring during a RAS!!! Spent a couple of years on her going round the med and the big refit in Portsmouth where Exocet replaced one of the big 45 guns. Unfortunately for me, I got drafted off on the very day she left for a 9 x month deployment escorting the Royal Yacht Britannia in 1977 for the Silver Jubilee. Not a happy bunny as did all the work, but never got to play!!! Good mates with “Woody Woodcock” and “Howie Yelland”. I wonder where they are now?

Mike Swain

Mar. 7, 2014

I was very interested to read the comments regarding the fire on board Fife, I too was there at the time. From my memory of the events, and I thought they were fairly clear, I understood a number of facts. Having been the HQ1 runner, and this is where I am a little confused as another member has claimed this position, perhaps there were two of us, I was privy to a much wider view of the ongoing battle than most others.

The fire was initially announced as in the GTCR (Gas Turbine Control Room), I remember this clearly, although it was in fact in the GTR (Gas Turbine Room) and was probably reported in the first instance from the GTCR. Damage control sections 2 and 3 were closed up and I belted off to HQ1 which was well forward of the greenies mess and up by the helm station and the ops room. Whilst the comms systems held up the runners job was as a standby position. I remember being a bit frustrated at not being involved as I had done the ships firefighting course at Whale Island the year before and was well trained. However as the fire progressed and comms system's failed I was sent on errands aft relaying messages.

This was no easy task as the power systems had also failed and we were down to the gloom of Emergency Lighting (AELs) which were OK in practise, but amid the smoke, water and mayhem barely sufficient. I remember well negotiating my way down the starboard passageway and just forward of the GTR where a cook was boundary cooling a 440v fuse panel which was still live until it erupted off the bulkhead to add to the effect. I was on my way to the starboard seaslug magazine to find out what was going on. On opening the watertight door, which just above the greenies mess, I was confronted with a sight I will never forget. Through the gloom of AELs the fire party was boundary cooling in the magazine and the water was collecting and boiling and the compartment was full of steam. The fire party was swinging about in the missile racks to keep out of it. The drain cocks were in the GTR and shut and could not be opened. This was just one of the problems of design.

Richard Scott is dead right when he quotes his father. The whole thing was a balls up of design, but where else do you keep the compressed air cylinders? They were huge, not just your dive tank thing they stood as high as the deck head and were about a meter in diameter and I think there were about 20 of them, all along the forward bulkhead and down the port side and at 4000 psi. A massive amount of air that was being liberated into the GTR,  big problem as it could not be shut off. Then of course there was the gas turbine fuel, kerosene free flowing into the turbines and again not able to be shut off. So here we have the firefighters nightmare, Fuel, Heat and an air supply none of which could be stemmed until one or another ran out.

The air was the one to go but not for hours and that was when the super heated steam from the boiler room was introduced. This had the effect of removing any oxygen in the air so extinguishing the fire. Bill Scott was a fine skipper, I met him a few times with my cap off and he was usually lenient. It was down to him that I eventually became a submariner. He had been in Seraph when they launched "The man that never was". He would tell us sea stories on the cctv system which is how I know and I was much in awe of him. He also had us do a fire practise every single day. I did these for two and a half years in Fife and undoubtedly our expertise saved the ship and probably some lives.

We sailed back to Malta under our own steam albeit with a bit of a list to port and a damaged prop shaft. We had two anyway and four steam turbines still going. The list was on purpose as one of the HP air cylinders had exploded and made a hole in the ships side close to the waterline. Richard Scott talks of firing off the seaslugs, but if my memory serves me correctly this could not be done as the 24v system that moved the missiles in the mag. was out because, you guessed it, the generating system was in the GTR and engulfed in the inferno otherwise I think they would have gone, there were 16 on board.

There were other problems with fire pumps and bilge pumps as the wiring was burnt to cinders which is why the emergency cable running came into play. HQ1 was an interesting place to be as it turned out. The only casualty I know of, which was quite amazing really, was the POGI and was caused by somebody shutting a hatch on his head, rumour had it on purpose. Mind you a POGI has a pretty thick skull so he just had a bit of a sore head for a while, not too different from a 4.5 going off in your ear!!!! A whole ward at Bighi (sic) hospital had been cleared for casualties.

Those are my memories of that incident, they may not be entirely accurate, but I was just a lowly REM. I did work on the seaslug guidance system 901 and was involved in the failed launching at Subic Bay which was quite funny really, but that's another story! The outcome for a bunch of young and randy sailors was great, Three months alongside in Malta with cheap booze and very pretty girls, some of them anyway. One could get totally shiters on 10 bob drinking Perno!

Richard (Jock) Lacey
REM1 P107606

Feb. 25, 2014

I served aboard HMS Fife 1968-1971 and have distinct memories of the “great fire” which have been refreshed in reading the comments of other correspondents.  I too remember the ox-blood stink in the breaker rooms which lasted for months after.  Richard Scott's comments regarding his father's fears and dilemmas also strikes a chord as we all knew that it was a close run thing with the distinct possibility of firing all of the Seaslug missiles as the paint in the missile magazines was melting and blistering. 

The fire was first seen by a young ERA doing routine rounds (I think that it might have been Garry Hale but my memory is not what it used to be!) and he made a valiant attempt to snuff it with hand extinguisher, but it very swiftly became out of control.  I think that the original cause was hydraulic oil feeding the stabilizer bursting a thin pipe and pouring onto a nearby diesel (or perhaps gas turbine) generator.

The fire was obviously considered by the news media to be of some significance because it actually made it onto that evening's 6 o'clock TV News back home in the UK .  After all the excitement was over and we could breathe a sigh of relief we were amused by the content of that broadcast.  My wife, who was watching the news, later told me that it said “Guided missile destroyer HMS Fife, exercising in the Mediterranean, is fighting a severe fire and that having exhausted all on-board firefighting foam additional drums of this vital substance were being helicoptered in from -----GIBRALTAR”  As my wife knew that we were on exercise in the eastern Med she wondered why not from Malta which was much nearer if it was that desperate.  In fact of course, the foam was being dropped by Sea King from Ark Royal's flight.  As I recall Fife ended up spending several weeks in Birzebuggia (now a thriving container port in Malta) being “hospitalized”. Although the fire was indeed severe and reached critical proportions the external signs were little – blistering and scorch marks but internally it was a very different story.

My own input in this drama was little.  I was CEA1 looking after S.I.N.S., gyros and other navigation equipment and was therefore, originally, detached from the main firefighting drama, but when things became really tense and electrical power distribution went critical I had a small team running damage control cables along the main 2-deck passageways in order to ensure that the power breakers in the breaker rooms could be by-passed such as to keep the fire pumps running for boundary cooling purposes.  Although we had all learned about the use of these cables during damage control exercises and the like I certainly never expected to see them in use for real.

Geoff Roberts
Ex Chief Petty Officer

Feb. 13, 2014

Regarding the HMS Fife reunion, there was a very successful one in 2012. It is hoped it will be bi-annual!
Details and a shed load of ex Fifers are on the HMS Fife Facebook page!

Gavin "Dougie" Douglas
(D20 - 1986 to decommissioning)

Oct. 28, 2013

I was onboard Fife during this major fire and remember being in a fear nought suit for what seemed liked at least 24 hours. I was too young to be scared although I did get a bit concerned when people were going to the upper deck with lifejackets on and I was still boundary cooling.

Kind regards,
David Evans
(JMEM at the time)

Apr. 28, 2013

During a recent de-clutter I came across my 1969 - 1971 commission book for HMS Fife and a couple of news letters of the world tour. I decided to search the internet to see what else I could find and discovered this splendid site.

Firstly, through your site, may I offer my condolences to the family of James Mullen (HMS Fife D20 – Photo Gallery, Message 10. Jan. 2, 2013 ). James was a fellow mess mate and I remember him well.

Secondly, (Reply 1. Aug 11 2012 ). I would like to thank Richard Scott for sharing the ‘Rear Admiral Sir William Scott Collection' of his father with us and also for his account of the fire.

Thirdly, regarding the message posted by Rupert Berryman (Rear Admiral Sir William David Scott Collection, Message 1, Dec 19 2012). I too would be very interested to hear a more detailed account of the events and would appreciate this message being forwarded to Rupert.

I was a CEM at the time and remember being in the middle of watching the Sound of Music in the dining hall when the alarm was sounded. As the HQ1 runner I spent the entire time taking hand written messages between HQ1 and the scene of the fire. Each trip became more dangerous as I waded through increasing water levels created by the boundary cooling. Electrical panels sparked and exploded and the smell of the ox blood foam in the water has never left me.

I remember that we came real close to jettisoning the sea slug missiles and I was present when a team entered the magazine to cool the blistering decks. One of them being James Mullins mentioned above. I also felt rather concerned when I learned that the ships company were donning life jackets and making their way to the upper deck. As a switchboard watch keeper I conducted post fire rounds of the turbine room and have vivid memories of the awful smell and sight of the charred remains.

The Fife fire featured as a part of my SD Officer's course some years later but unfortunately the old grey cells aren't what they used to be and I have forgotten much of the detail. Any further information would be much appreciated.

Many thanks,
Tony Merrick

Jan. 2, 2013

Just to notify all former Shipmates, James Mullen, Weaponry Engineer on Fife passed away the day after boxing day. (Was on board during infamous fire). The funeral will be held in Plymouth 09/01/13 St. Jude's crematorium 10AM.

Chris Fagg
CI RM Cadets Red lodge, Cambs

Aug. 20, 2012

I served with Chris [pusser] Hill on the Fife flight back in 1970/71. The other crew members were: Les Stevens, Pat Slattery and myself; Ian Robertson {radio mech}. The senior rates: SMR Baker, wagger Welch, Norman Anning, Ken Speers, Rod Weatherall and the two radio guys{my bosses} Ging Oram and Ned MC'Combe.

Ian Robertson

June 22, 2012

I served on board HMS Fife in 1970 and 71 as a mechanic on the ships flight. During that time we experienced a nearly catastrophic engine room fire. It happened during the Lime Jug exercise in the Med about November 70. I have been unable to find any reference to this in all my on line searches. Can you help? I'm sure that someone out there has either articles or pictures of the incident.

Christopher J. Hill
Mobile, Alabama, USA

Reply 1
Aug. 11, 2012

It is once in a blue moon that I Google HMS Fife, but I just have, and having seen your query, thought I should do what I can to help out.

I was not a crew member of the Fife, but my father was the captain at the time, so I thought I might help out with what I can remember of what he told me about the fire (unfortunately, he is not around any more to help out himself, having died in January 2006). You will have to forgive my less than perfect recollection of conversations that would have taken place decades ago, but here is what I can recall, though a lot, if not all may be Old Hat to you already.

He certainly confirmed that it was almost catastrophic. Apparently it started because of a pretty stupid design fault. Apparently oil from somewhere was dripping down onto a very hot surface somewhere in the gas turbine room, and this had ignited. Things were not helped by the fact that there was a whole lot of oxygen bottles stored nearby, which started exploding and feeding the fire. I can remember him in his inimitable way describing to a naval pal of his how oil was dripping down onto a very hot surface right next to a load of oxygen bottles right underneath the sea-slug magazine- "Bloody good design, that…". What was more inexcusable was that the danger posed by this oil drip had been identified by the ship's engineering people months before, and they had suggested some pipe or something be installed to harmlessly feed the oil away but this had been vetoed by the powers that be at HQ.

I gather that things were not helped by the fact that the ship was going flat out back to Malta at the time- in part because my father had been appointed to head the enquiry into the Ark Royal's collision with a Russian destroyer on the exercise. Anyway, it was very touch and go, and my father spent most of his time and mental worries monitoring and watching the temperatures in the sea-slug magazines: he really was on the verge of ordering that the whole lot be fired off in quick succession to save the ship from being blown apart. He told me that in defiance of all regulations (the flight deck was officially deemed too small to allow Sea-Kings to land), Sea Kings from Ark Royal were ferrying fire-fighting equipment over (but being on that part of the ship you will have known all about that).

As you probably know, the fire was eventually extinguished by rigging up some piping or something from the steam turbines, leading it into the gas turbine room, sealing the gas turbine room off, and then drenching it with steam. My father certainly found it very stressful, and the ship's doctor prescribed him something pretty damn strong to get him sufficiently unwound to get to sleep (and after taking it, "everything was just beautiful….."!).

After the event when they were clearing up the mess, the engineering folks found and gave him some fantastic molten metal "sculpture" picked up from the floor of the gas turbine room, formed of metal which had melted and then solidified. I don't know whether my mother still has it buried away somewhere. For some reason I myself have the album of his photos during his time on the Fife. My favourite picture is one of him sitting at a table talking to the Head of the Nigerian Navy during a courtesy call. The look on his face is an absolute picture- clearly being fed a load of incomprehensible drivel and wondering something long the lines of "God, who IS this bozo….?!"

I also heard from a pal of mine who joined the navy, albeit in the late 70's (I never joined myself!), that the Fife fire was taught as a case in his damage control training, so I don"t know if anyone in that department could shed any light.

Anyway I hope thus helps put a little bit of flesh on the bones. With Best Wishes.

Yours Sincerely,
Richard Scott
(Rear Admiral Sir William David Scott, K.C.B., C.B Collection)

Reply 2
June 15, 2013

I was on HMS Fife 69 - 71. You were in the Comms mess. I went ashore with you in Long Beach California. I have recently got in touch with Tony Slater and Roger Coe (Land Rover Driver) - remember them? If you want to get in touch, we can have an electronic chat.

Graham Fry (RO2(W)

Apr. 16, 2012

There is a bit of a kerfuffle going on down here in Devon regarding a guy named Robert Mitchell that claims he was a Royal Navy Commando and carried out all sorts of amazing missions in Malaysia and Vietnam. He reckons that he was left behind in a hospital in Singers (probably BMH) after he burst an ear drum on a diving course when HMS Fife was out there. His story makes Walter Mitty pale by comparison. Anyone know him?

Vic Balsdon
Former Royal Marine (1959 - 68)

Reply 1
Sept. 29, 2012

I unfortunately spending my Singapore visit in BMH.  During my stay in the hospital, I do not remember meeting a Robert Mitchell (Mne)

Dave Smith 
J Seaman

Apr. 12, 2012

There is an HMS Fife reunion in February 2013, more info on face book!/events/351028161601896 /

Kindest regards,
Bob Thornby
Regional Head Pistol Coach

Oct. 28, 2011

I was on fife 1971 to 1974.

R. P. Star

Mar. 20, 2010

Just seen the page concerning HMS Fife, and I notice that the second picture in the sequence says "HMS Fife in 1973". In fact it was taken by the ships helicopter as the Fife sailed into Singapore in 1970 on it's second commission, the self-same pic is in my commissioning book. Also "B" turret was taken off on return to the UK after the big fire in the Med in 1971 which is another point of age. Apart from that a great little page that you have created. Thank You.

Best Wishes,
John Francis
Oxford, England

Feb. 16, 2009

I served on Fife from 1969 - 1971 and 1973, but have yet to hear of a Fife reunion.

Best Wishes,
Nick Meachin (now in Crete)

Jan. 20, 2009

I served on the Fife-1967-69 (stoker, me1) would like to know about reunions (if any).                                     

M. Austin

Nov. 13, 2008

I served in the Fife 1969 -1971 and have yet to find a Fife reunion. Any ideas?

Best wishes,
David Evans

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