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Commanding Officer TOROA: 1981 – 1983

Commander K Laverty VRD* RNZNVR Commanding Officer HMNZS TOROA 1981 - 1984.

Commander R. (Dick) Laverty, VRD*, MSc, PhD (NZ), FNZIC, RNZNVR

Commander Richard Laverty was born in Dunedin in 1932, and has lived there most of his life, except for 6 war years in Auckland, and 4 post-doctoral research years in Cambridge England.


In 1950, as the youngest son of a marine engineer who served in the RNR in 2 World Wars, he volunteered for the Royal New Zealand Naval Volunteer Reserve, to meet the requirements of the Compulsory Military Training Act, but was allowed to defer his training for 3 years while completing his B.Sc.


In January 1953, he joined RNZN as an Ordinary Seaman for 14 weeks Basic training at HMNZS TAMAKI, then on Motuihe Island, near Auckland.  On Completion of basic training he was categorised as an Electrical rating, on the basis of his science training, and posted to HMNZS TOROA.  This was followed by a week alongside on HMNZS BLACK PRINCE, as an electricians mate 2nd class.


In January 1954 he had a month at sea on HMNZS ROYALIST during the Royal Tour.   He joined in Wellington, spent a night in Thomson Sound, and then sailed for Hobart to join with ships from Australia, Britain, India, and Canada, for a Fleet review and inter-ship competitions.


In 1956, now qualified as an acting Leading Electrician’s Mate, he was invited and attended the Officers Selection Board, and was subsequently commissioned as an Electrical Sub-lieutenant.


In January 1957 he undertook further sea training, going to Sydney on the frigate HMNZS Rotoiti in company of other NZ and Australian units.  Not qualified professionally to be an electrical engineer officer he transferred to the General list of Officers in 1961.   He was subsequently promoted to acting Lieutenant after completing General List Officer promotion courses.


Between 1961 and 1964 he took leave in England on post-doctoral training in medical research, rejoining TOROA in 1965, having taken up a position at the University of Otago Medical School, initially in research and then as Senior Lecturer in Pharmacology.   He was consequently re-categorized as an Instructor Lieutenant.


During the period 1965-1984, he resumed active participation in the activities of TOROA.    Duties mainly included New Entry or Training Officer responsibilities, and tutoring senior ratings on classroom instructional technique, or for their naval examinations.


During these years, he served at sea around the North Cape on the Survey Vessel HMNZS LACHLAN, in the Otago waters on the frigate HMNZS BLACKPOOL, and to Bounty Island on the frigate HMNZS CANTERBURY.   There were numerous trips on the Division’s attached SDML, usually delivery trips to and from Auckland for annual refits.   He was also involved in a number of training courses at HMNZS PHILOMEL and also assisted in running courses at the training facility HMNZS TAMAKI, then at Narrow Neck.


An additional occasional duty was being Honorary Aide-de-Camp to three Governor Generals; the Right Honourable Brigadier Sir Bernard Fergusson, GCMG, GCVO, DSO, OBE (1962-67), the Right Honourable Sir Arthur Porritt, GCMG, GCVO, CBE, KStJ (67-72) and the Right Honourable Sir Denis Blundell, GCMG, GCVO, KBE, QSO.  (72-77).   He was also attached as Honorary staff to the Royal Household for the visit of Prince Charles and Princess Anne.


In 1968 he was promoted to Instructor Lieutenant Commander and awarded the Volunteer Reserve Decoration (VRD).   In due course he was promoted to Instructor Commander.    When Specialist branches were abolished shortly after, he reverted to the General List of Officers and was awarded a clasp to his VRD.


In1980 Commander Laverty was appointed Commanding Officer of HMNZS TOROA, a position he held until his retirement in December 1983, early due to health problems.   One feature of his time as CO was to see the launching and commissioning of HMNZS MOA, first of the new steel inshore patrol craft, though he did not ever sail in command of her.


Commander Laverty had been appointed as Professor and Head of the Department of Pharmacology, University of Otago in 1980, from which position he retired as Emeritus Professor in 1998, though continuing as a consultant to the Ministry of Health and to commercial organisations.

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