ALWAYS guided “home” by the big blue star on the biggest funnels in the dockyards of the world, Phil Carroll had so many stories of his time at sea that his wife said he should write them down.

It was a time of change, when container vessels were beginning to take over from traditional cargo ships, dockyards were changing.  Phil’s wife said this sort of stuff of a bygone era should be captured somehow.  So Phil has.

The result is his book “Under a Big Blue Star - Exotic Voyages of a Deck Cadet”, published by Shakspeare Editorial UK based in Sandford. 

A delightful and informative book, full of detail for those with a technical interest, just as interesting for those of us without.  

Phil Carroll had joined the cargo ships as the change was beginning for the these to be replaced.  About to leave University, not attracted by any of the career ideas, he came across an advertisement for Blue Star Ship Management (BSSM).

Going to sea in the Merchant Navy attracted Phil.  He got a job as an Officer Trainee at £3,828 a year with Blue Star SM, it was the only British company which had deck cadets. 

Hampshire born, he grew up in Gosport in a naval environment, his father was in marine engineering.  Phil went to Newcastle University, then joined the Merchant Navy.

Five months later he had been round the world one and a half times on his first trip.  “It was great fun which is partly why I wrote the book.  When my wife and I talk occasionally about my seafaring life, she says I should write all this stuff down, because our children do not know much about it, we have five children between us and five grandchildren.

“This was on the cusp of the old-style cargo ships that would spend a long time in port because it took such a long time to unload their cargo.  It was a period of transition for British ships.”

Frequently through the book Phil says how fortunate he was to see that world, the experiences he had, the places he went to then.

“It was a period of change and transition from the old style ships with the old days of cranes and dockyards, to container ships that moved ship loads of tonnage quickly.

“After I decided to resign from Blue Star, I joined the Royal Navy for 24 years after which I was headhunted by the Australian Navy, I am a hydrographic surveyor.  We later spent five years in Cairns in Australia and then five years in Canberra.  

“It took two years to write the book, I did a lot of research to make sure my facts were accurate and correct.   


“I have written about the company because not many people know about Blue Star, especially as it no longer exists,” said Phil.  He did the drawings and diagrams and maps.

They moved here in 2019 and say they love it here.   Phil is a Volunteer Ranger at Killerton once-a-week doing such work as repairing fences, using strimmers to keep things tidy.

His wife leads a creative writing group with the U3A and helps with the Witness Support group at the Coroner’s Office in Exeter.

Phil says he is currently “scribbling away” at a second volume covering his subsequent Royal Naval career which he hopes to publish next year, the 40th anniversary of his joining the Royal Navy.  

“Under a Big Blue Star”  ISBN 9768-1-7397590-8-7 is available in paperback and ebook from Amazon and other online booksellers.