Robert Royan joined the maritime training ship HMS Conway in 1944 at the start of a career in the Merchant Navy which was to last forty-six years. During that time he was to witness the build- up of the UK merchant fleet after the war and also the end of this sea-going era during as British crews faded away and the fleet increasingly operated under flags of convenience.
We follow the young Robert Royan’s two-year training course and early voyages as a cadet and trace his career through the ranks until he obtained a ship as master in 1970. His long service with Clan Line and its connections was recognised in 1988 when he was appointed Commodore.
There were few ports of distinction at which the author did not dock during his career and his descriptions of visiting them make absorbing reading. The tension in Calcutta on the day Ghandi was assassinated was especially memorable as was having to deliver a ship to the breaker’s yard on a beach in India.
From small cargo ships to cruise liners, and the biggest container ship of the time, Robert Royan’s deft handling of both vessel and crew illustrates what life at sea is all about. It is an account which brings back many memories to those familiar with the sea.