HE JOINED the Royal Navy as a fresh-faced 18-year-old keen to stretch his sea legs.
Now 29 years later, Chief Marine Engineering Mechanic John ‘Buck’ Rogers is celebrating after clocking up 5,000 days on the waves.
The 47-year-old is currently on a global deployment with Portsmouth-based HMS Daring.
Over the course of his career, Buck, from Petersfield, has served in 14 ships, but says his time on HMS Daring has been the best.
As reported in The News, the warship was recently sent to the Philippines on a humanitarian relief mission codenamed Operation Patwin.
Buck said: ‘On HMS Daring, we are coming to the end of what has got to be the highlight of anybody’s career and the best deployment I have ever been on.
‘There has been a lot of very hard work, including Operation Patwin, and all the hosting in all the countries we have visited.
‘I am now awaiting my next shore draft, then one more sea draft, so I may yet be able to reach 6,000 days.’
Buck has served on board HMS Naiad, Avenger, Battleaxe, Ambuscade, Arrow, Beaver, Monmouth, Boxer, Iron Duke, Invincible, Edinburgh, Exeter, York and Daring.
Commander Angus Essenhigh, the commanding officer of HMS Daring, said: ‘During our extraordinary deployment, Chef Rogers reached a milestone in his own career with separated service equivalent to more than 27 standard six-month deployments.
‘During our deployment he has brought his considerable experience to bear and he can be rightly proud of his achievements, both in the humanitarian relief in the Philippines and in enabling the first Type 45 to circumnavigate the globe.’
Buck’s first ship was HMS Naiad, and he says it remains on his favourites.
‘We lived in a mess square with people drinking and smoking all around you all hours of the day,’ he said.
‘There is no way you could do that now. I tell the younger lads about it and they look at me in disbelief. That is where I learned to be a stoker, and the rules to survive were work hard and play hard.’
Several other ships followed before Buck served in three Type 21 frigates – HMS Ambuscade, HMS Avenger and HMS Arrow – therefore becoming part of the Type 21 Club.
‘We had some good deployments to the West Indies and played some good rugby there, as well as meeting some wonderful people,’ he added.