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Monday, January 5, 2015

NZ Navy's No. 1 dies

There's a story behind this humble man.

A Royal New Zealand Navy legend, Shiu Hang Che or "No 1", has died aged 88.

In a "Crossing the Bar" notice, the Royal New Zealand Navy said Shiu, "the
Navy's much-respected No 1", had died peacefully at the North Shore Hospital
on Monday.

"RIP No 1 and Bravo Zulu," the notice said, using the flag code for well

Virtually everybody who has served aboard New Zealand warships will have
sailed with him.

And in the senior service where crisp uniforms are an absolute requirement,
Shiu played a vital role in shipboard life.

He had been laundryman, a civilian posting, on nine New Zealand navy ships
and served in two conflicts aboard them - the Korean War and Malaysia

"Where ship go, I go," he told the New Zealand Herald 18 years ago when he
first came ashore.

"Sometimes it is dangerous, you don't know what time you will be killed."
Chief of the Navy Rear Admiral Jack Steer attended a ceremony at Devonport
Naval Base in August to celebrate Shiu, whose last seaborne posting ended in
1996 with the decommissioning of HMNZS Wellington.

He continued working, serving at the shore training base HMNZS Philomel.
His first ship in 1947 was the Royal Navy's St Brides Bay. He served on six
Royal Navy ships which had a contract with Hong Kong laundrymen to serve the
fleet based there.

New Zealand picked up the system and Shiu joined the New Zealand Navy as a
civilian in 1957.

He sailed aboard the Royalist, Rotoiti, Pukaki, Taranaki, Blackpool, Otago,
Waikato, Canterbury and Wellington.

For almost 40 years of his career he lived on board ships even while
alongside in Devonport, returning to his family in Hong Kong for one month a

On Canterbury the ship visited Shanghai in 1987 and Shiu got to spend four
days with his family.

He became a New Zealand citizen in 1989 and in 1992 he bought a house here.
His wife Boon Shau and one daughter Wai Lai moved to New Zealand, leaving
his three sons behind in Hong Kong.

When he was 70, Shiu said there was hardly anybody in the navy who did not
know him.

"Everyone says hello - I am granddad to them," he said.

"Everybody call me No 1 ... that's a pretty good name, No 1."

Picture:  Shiu with Chief of the Navy Rear Admiral Jack Steer.

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