Royal New Zealand Navy | Navy Today - Issue 240, February 2020

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Contents 06 Whakaari/White Island

26 Husband and wife train together

10 Waitangi Day Commemorations

30 RNZN Chef of the year

15 AOTEAROA readies for sea

32 Marathon in Antarctica

20 Commodore Melissa Ross

34 Invictus Games

23 Defence Housing

35 Mislaid medals returned

“ Everyone, to a person, did their bit and did it very well. I’m really proud. I really am.” ~ Lieutenant Commander Tim Hall, on the Whakaari/White Island operation.

06 Navy Today is the official magazine of the Royal New Zealand Navy. Established to inform, inspire and entertain serving and former members of the RNZN, their families, friends and the wider Navy Community. Published by: Defence Public Affairs HQ NZ Defence Force Wellington, New Zealand


Editor: Andrew Bonallack Email: Design and Layout: Defence Public Affairs


Printed by: Bluestar Private Bag 39996, Wellington Distribution: Email:

10 Contributions are welcomed, including stories, photographs and letters. Please submit stories and letters by email in Microsoft Word or the body of an email. Articles up to 500 words welcomed, longer if required by the subject. Please consult the editor about long articles. Digital photos submitted by email also welcomed, at least 500kb preferred. Stories published in Navy Today cannot be published elsewhere without permission.

Winners of the Ahoy Waitangi Navy competition

Front Cover: Whangarei Primary School

Copy deadline is the 15th of the month for the following issue. Subject to change. Views expressed in Navy Today are not necessarily those of the RNZN or the NZDF. Defence Careers: Phone: 0800 1FORCE (0800 136 723) Changing Address? To join or leave our mailing list, please contact: Email:

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Back Cover: Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Pukemiro

Yours Aye

Deputy Chief of Navy

Tēnā koutou! It is my great pleasure to be writing my first Yours Aye to you as Deputy Chief of Navy. The holiday period seems to be a distant memory with many of our sailors involved in activities early in the New Year. 2020 is the dawn of a new decade and despite all the activities that keep us busy, it is a good time to reflect on what has been to give us better clarity about what lies ahead. Many of our recent achievements are covered in this edition of Navy Today. There are some happy moments, some historic moments and some moments tinged with sadness. What is common throughout these articles, however, is the professionalism of our people despite often challenging circumstances, comradeship and espirit de corps and the importance of the sea. And if I think back during my time in the Navy and read back in history, these themes will be common throughout our Navy’s history. I recently visited the Tamaki Leadership Centre in Whangaparoa. As I’m sure many of you are aware, the Centre became a temporary home to around 160 New Zealand and Pacific Island evacuees who were returned from China, the centre of the Coronavirus. While there were many challenges, I was proud to hear from our colleagues in the Ministry of Health and Police about the professionalism, enthusiasm and positive attitude of our sailors. They have been doing a fantastic job to help keep our communities safe by ensuring the evacuees were kept safe but isolated from the rest of the population, until they could be cleared to return home. BZ to those involved. As we embark on this New Year and new decade, I look forward to seeing our Navy meet its operational commitments including HMNZS MANAWANUI deploying to the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise, and the continued renewal of our

“ They have been doing a fantastic job to help keep our communities safe by ensuring the evacuees were kept safe but isolated from the rest of the population, until they could be cleared to return home.” fleet with the arrival of AOTEAROA and HMNZS TE KAHA at Devonport Naval Base this year. I also look forward to meeting and interacting with many of you – our sailors, our civilian staff and our families and finally, I look forward to being part of a team that will look at the future of the Navy and where the next decade will take us. What I can predict in the future is that we will continue to face challenges, we will continue to demonstrate comradeship and espirit de corps, and the sea will continue to remain important to our nation and our region. We are all sailors in the New Zealand Navy He heramana mātou o te Taua Moana o Aotearoa

Commodore Melissa Ross Deputy Chief of Navy

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From the WON


Warrant Officer of the Navy

As we begin 2020 and think about the challenges, highs and lows we will encounter, it is timely to think about the role we will play as Senior Rates in delivering our Mission and Vision.

As Senior Rates, we must continually strive to attain higher levels of personal and professional competence in order to be more effective as leaders. We Senior Rates must relish taking on challenging tasks – that is what we are developed and trained to do.

Senior Rates are the leadership cadre that ensures the mission of their unit of our Navy can and will be achieved. We do so by sustaining and motivating our junior sailors by teaching, coaching and mentoring by instilling a sense of unity, purpose, good order and discipline – demanding compliance with standards, tradition, culture, customs and common courtesies. This is achieved directly or indirectly through our actions and behaviours. Senior Rates are looked upon to manifest and embody our values of Courage – Tū Kaha, Commitment – Tū Tika, Comradeship – Tū Tira and Integrity – Tū Māia.

Because Senior Rates are closest to our sailors, they have the greatest sphere of influence and effect on accomplishing organisational goals and achieving mission success. They can also cause the greatest disruption and be negative influencers for their subordinates through poor attitude and demeanour.

Senior Rates must be professionals undeterred by chaos, complexity and uncertainty; during these times they must be a calming presence. When sailors or junior officers look up from a difficult task for purpose, strength and guidance, it must be a Senior Rate they see first.

The traits, qualities and competencies Senior Rates develop enable us to carry out fundamental roles and responsibilities as the team-builders, force-multipliers, problem-solvers, implementers, and enforcers who take plans and orders from concept to completion. Given our experience and ability to influence and guide others, Senior Rates are a decisive factor in the Navy’s ability to battle through challenges, adversity, and uncertainty.

Senior Rates are required to be curious. Curiosity is both a critical thinking skill and an exercise in vigilance. Curiosity is a personal trait that is learned, yet requires practice to remain sharp. Curiosity demands an alert frame of mind and an understanding of how things operate, whether that be equipment or ‘systems’. Finally, Senior Rates play an integral role in the grass-roots application of our divisional system. Through regular interaction and their ability to build trust with the sailors, the lead Senior Rates are best situated to nip burgeoning situations from escalating.

Combat System Specialist Wayne Dyke Warrant Officer of the Navy

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BRAVO ZULU AWARDS 2019 Recruit numbers increase From this year, recruit intakes will increase as the Navy prepares to receive AOTEAROA into the fleet and welcome back a refurbished HMNZS TE KAHA later this year. The Navy is aiming for 240 sailors per year from the two Basic Common Training intakes. This means between 140 to

150 trainees will arrive at the Devonport Naval Base gate this month, with attrition accounting for some between then and graduation. Previously around 90 recruits graduated each intake. Officer intakes will also increase to 60 officers per year.

The Commander W.J.L Smith Trophy No. 6 Squadron The Fleet Seamanship Award Bill Morley Seamanship Training Facility The Monowai Trophy HMNZS CANTERBURY The Chatham Rose Bowl and Efficiency Pennant HMNZS WELLINGTON Naval Support Command Customer Service Trophy National Museum of the Royal New Zealand Navy Naval Support Command Efficiency Trophy Operations Training Group The RNZN Safety Award (Individual) LT Meyrick Pereira, Engineering Officer, HMNZS WELLINGTON The RNZN Safety Award (Unit) HMNZS PHILOMEL

Popular attraction Navy museum staff welcomed their 1,000,000th visitor through their doors in January. Devonport resident Helen Conley crossed the milestone while visiting the museum with her 12-yearold grandson Shane, from Palmerston North. She was

presented with a gift voucher for the museum’s café and a gift box of items from the museum shop. From left, museum manager David Wright, Helen Conley and Shane Conley, with museum personnel Māia Week, Marica McEwan and Charis Boos.

The RNZN Reserve Division Trophy HMNZS OLPHERT Joe Simms Memorial Award AMUS Priscilla Scanlan The Civilian of the Year David Murray, SSTS Manager Hot Shot Photo of the Year LT Jordan Markham

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y Andrew Bonallack B Editor

The call came through at 1600, Monday 9 December 2019.

Offshore Patrol Vessel HMNZS WELLINGTON had arguably done their bit for the year. From October, TUIA 250 commemorations had combined with rigorous fishery patrols in the South Island. Now the crew, albeit at the start of a working week in Devonport, were in that comfortable buzz that comes from the pleasant proximity of Christmas and summer holidays. The ship was being prepared to lock-up for a month. Lieutenant Commander Tim Hall, at home playing with his children, took the call from Headquarters Joint Forces New Zealand. “Have you piped leave yet? Don’t do it. Be prepared to sail.” Whakaari/White Island had suddenly erupted at 1411, with devastating consequences to a tour group of nearly 50 people. Local operators and helicopters raced to the scene, retrieving as many survivors as they could.

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WELLINGTON was the ‘on-call’ Navy ship for search and rescue operations at eight hours’ notice. The Officer of the Day received a phone call, telling him to ensure the ship’s company are on board. Joint Forces called LTCDR Hall back at 1700, ordering him to sail. By 1900, WELLINGTON is on her way to the Bay of Plenty. “This is something you accept,” says LTCDR Hall. “Everyone’s head space was: we are done for the year. This sort of thing doesn’t often happen, and doesn’t seem to happen at Christmas time. We’re always happy to go and do our jobs, and to do something like this is really meaningful – but to paint you a picture: quite a few people on the ship hadn’t left for the day yet. So they had said ‘see you tonight’ to their families, and then didn’t go home for the next two weeks.”

Whakaari/White Island

At this point people on Whakaari White Island were missing, still unaccounted for. It was possible this was still a rescue operation. By the time WELLINGTON arrived, on Tuesday morning, the ship’s aim was to support New Zealand Police’s search and rescue efforts. “We had a five-mile exclusion zone to enforce around the island. We’d call boats on the radio, asking them if they were aware of the exclusion zone. They would say, yes, we are, and thank you, it means a lot to the community to have you here.” During the day WELLINGTON’s SH2G(I) Seasprite helicopter flew missions over the island. “We were getting as much of a look as we could, looking for signs of survivors. Unfortunately there were none, but we were able to get some useful reconnaissance of the area to aid the planning for the recovery operation.”

The Seasprite also picked up a Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) team in Whakatane. They had a Remotely Piloted Aerial System (RPAS) to survey the terrain and take atmospheric readings. But the wind, at 35 knots, was too strong to launch it, so the FENZ team stayed the night on WELLINGTON. The following day, the police launch DEODAR arrived, and the FENZ team launched from their boat. “They flew up the valley and confirmed people would need protective gear. We needed to know, could we breathe the air? The gas monitoring equipment showed that more often than not, you would need breathing gear of some kind.” At 1000, while the FENZ team were still flying RPAS from DEODAR, WELLINGTON remained as ‘On scene commander’ and was monitoring progress from a short distance away.

The bridge team were watching closely the smoke and ash being emitted. The Flight Observer, who had got a very good look from the Seasprite the previous day, was the first to notice. “Does that look different to you? It definitely wasn’t doing that yesterday.” The pattern of emissions was different, said LTCDR Hall. “We used the IR sensor from the weapon system and we could see what had previously looked like a gentle simmer had changed to an angry boil – hot ash like a geyser being ejected a few dozen meters skyward. We phoned Joint Forces, asked them to ask GNS Science if they could check their sensors, and call us back.” The bridge team did a bit of searching themselves on the internet. “We found the GNS GEONET website for Whakaari/ White Island, and there was this line on a graph. We weren’t sure of the exact meaning, but the line was going up.”

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With the hairs on the neck prickling, it was time to play it safe. “We got everyone (DEODAR and FENZ personnel included) out, we recovered our boat, and got out to a mile. Joint rang us back, saying GNS had confirmed increased activity and recommended we stand off to five miles.” Thursday was a big day, he says. “That was a big planning push ashore. We sent the Chief Bosun’s Mate, the Operations Officer and Executive Officer to Whakatane to join the planning team. We had the aircraft up flying over the island, continuing to search. We had a Littoral Warfare team from HMNZS MATATAUA flown out from Whakatane and got them conducting an underwater search with their AUV, but nothing was found. On shore, the plan was worked out. A specialist team made up of Explosive Ordnance Disposals (EOD), Police Disaster Victim Identification (DVI), and Army Mortuary Affairs and medical staff, would come on board in the evening, to be taken to the island in the morning for the recovery.” There was a lot of equipment involved, he said. “We got the last boat in at 0040.” 19 personnel were transferred by boat that night, with a further five by Seasprite the following day. Friday’s mission started at first light. The wind had stopped almost completely so the ash and gases from the volcano were lingering in

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Whakaari/White Island

the humid air. The plan itself was quite thorough with contingencies for all scenarios, including another big eruption, says LTCDR Hall. There were eight known victims, and at least six were on the island. An eight-member EOD team, kitted out in extreme protective gear and closed-circuit breathing apparatus, went ashore via WELLINGTON’s RHIBs, and proceeded into the valley to the locations of the victims. “The team recovered the bodies. They were transferred to an NH90 helicopter, which brought them to WELLINGTON. Everything was done by noon.” The police took custody of the bodies at this point, transferring them to Whakatane. “It went smoothly, thanks to the absolute professional performance of all the personnel involved,” says LTCDR Hall. Colonel Rian McKinstry, speaking to the NZ Herald later, said nothing could be done to change what the volcano might do next. He described how the soldiers were exhausted, severely dehydrated, and on their hands and knees after removing their gear, gasping for fresh air.

In the meantime, the search continued for the remaining two missing persons, now believed to be in the water. Over the weekend, a dive team from MATATAUA arrived to assist police in the search, which was ultimately called off. To get the team from MATATAUA on board, WELLINGTON had to get alongside in Tauranga to embark the 9-tonne containerised recompression chamber so the dive team could get deep enough to complete the task properly. Exactly a week after the eruption, the nation held one minute’s silence. WELLINGTON embarked family members of some of the victims, and held a ceremony on board, at White Island. “That was quite a moving ceremony. Meeting and talking to the families there was very emotional for all of us, and allowed us to share their grief – that we had all been feeling in such close proximity to the scene of the disaster.”

The following day, WELLINGTON is redeployed to answer a distress call. 200 nautical miles north-north-east of Whakatane, a crewman on fishing vessel Connie S has been injured. With a doctor on board, they travel the rest of the day, all night (through stormforce winds and very rough seas), and the following morning, to reach the American-registered vessel and effect transfer of the fisherman. LTCDR Hall says his ship’s company understood why they were there. “Everyone had to be very flexible, the whole time, because we didn’t know how long we were going to be away for. It was difficult, but they just got on with it. The Maritime Component Commander asked me who the standout people were, but everyone, to a person, did their bit and did it very well. I’m really proud. I really am.”

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A Tri-Service Waitangi

5 February 2020

For the first time in history, a triservice 100-person Royal Guard of Honour ventures onto the Waitangi Treaty Grounds.

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It’s not Waitangi Day, but the evening before, with around 1,000 guests and members of the public settling in for a commemoration of words, music and waiata to honour Māori service in the New Zealand Armed Forces. The White Ensign isn’t flying, as it might typically. The day is for all three services. The honour had begun earlier that day, with the opening of Te Rau Aroha (the gift of love) on Treaty Grounds, a museum dedicated to the service of Māori in the Forces. Now, Governor-General Patsy Reddy and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern sit with the three Service Chiefs and guests as the guard marches on.

The parade is meant to recreate the march of the 28th Maori Battalion, who marched onto the Treaty Grounds up the still-existing Nias track in 1940, prior to departing with the 2NZEF for war. The Master of Ceremonies tells the chronology of service, from World War I to World War 2 and beyond, while the screens display photos of those who had given their lives in service. But it is the NZDF Māori Culture Group who hold the audience, singing a medley of historic waiata and karanga. The finishing New Zealand Defence Force haka, with the Māori Culture Group, band, and others joining in, is powerful, and those lying on the grass get to their feet and surge forward with the TV cameras. The guests give a standing ovation.

6 February 2020 The White Ensign flutters from the flagstaff, as HMNZS WELLINGTON is anchored in the bay opposite the grounds. While the previous day’s service had been impressive, this is the true Waitangi Day, with an official dawn service at the Treaty Grounds. Later, the Waitangi Bridge is closed to traffic – walkers only – and seemingly every square inch of space is taken up with a parked car, regardless of the angle, or even if four wheels are touching the ground or not. It’s a time for walking, barefoot on the kikuyu grass or hot tar seal as hundreds move towards the Treaty Grounds, or gather on the beach to watch the waka being launched. There will be more performances from the Māori Culture Group, then the NZDF Ceremonial Guard will march on. A midday flypast from the Black Falcons, the RNZAF aerobatic team, is a new addition to the tri-service composition of the commemorations. On board WELLINGTON, Petty Officer Seaman Combat Specialist Angus Wells supervises the firing party, with three saluting guns positioned on the flight deck for the midday salute after the flypast. The team “range the rounds”, testing them in the breech to make sure there’s no jams. Shortly before firing, the officer of the watch will use engines to swing the ship on its anchor to present its starboard side to Waitangi. Keeping the five-second interval requires the gun director to say quietly, “If I wasn’t a gunner, I wouldn’t be here,” followed by “Fire!” The blast, smoke, and occasional orange flame is impressive, and at the Treaty Grounds cameras are held high. The events of 5 February were so substantial that an evening Beat the Retreat parade is considered unnecessary. A protest group wanders back down to Waitangi, holding flags on wrist-thick bamboo poles and looking pleased with themselves. Both the Deputy Chief of Navy and Chief of Navy continue a meet-and-greet in the Waitangi market. It’s easily over 30 degrees, and everyone, from the three services to the protesters, has done their bit. It’s time for lunch, perhaps a swim, and a relaxed conclusion to a sunny public holiday. Above: Second, third and fourth images courtesy of Ruth Lawton Photography.

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All aboard for

Ahoy Waitangi y Andrew Bonallack B Editor

The school buses come down the hill at Opua, and HMNZS WELLINGTON is there, looking large in the morning sun and ready for a day out. Two Northland schools, Whangarei Primary School and Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Pukemiro, Kaitaia, have won Ahoy Waitangi, a Navy-sponsored primary school art competition. The winning year five and six classes now have a day at sea to look forward to. With the Chief Bosun’s Mate, Chief Petty Officer Marine Electrician Euan La Trobe, answering eager questions in the ship’s hangar, it takes a moment for the 44 children to realise WELLINGTON has quietly slipped her lines. They race to the rails as the shore slips past. Everything is fascinating. Children try the gym equipment, pester the medic with questions, and explore the sleeping quarters. Fire hoses are lashed to the stern, and the

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youngsters see how far they can reach with jets of water. But it’s the RHIB ride that makes a few pause. From the viewpoint of a 10-year-old, it’s a big climb up a ladder to the seaboat, in helmet and lifejacket, and it’s a long way down as the boat is lowered from its davits. One girl whispers to herself: “I’m strong, I’m brave, I’m strong,” then determinedly climbs into the boat and holds on. The squeals start as the coxswain powers the RHIB away from WELLINGTON, indulging in sharp turns, spins, and coming tantalisingly near the hoses on the stern. One child can’t stop giggling on his return. “That was so good,” he says happily. Another is mildly outraged. “I told him not to get me wet, and he got me wet!” She points an accusing finger at the coxswain. It’s 35 degrees in the sun and no-one is worried about a slightly damp child.

A spread of food comes up from the galley. The sailors eye up the garlic bread and sausages, but wait their turn and join the children for lunch on the flight deck. Whangarei Primary School teacher Teresa Battersby, who came with 24 children, says the experience was amazing. “I don’t think the kids understood how big this was, but when they got halfway down the hill at Opua, they said wow, there’s the ship. They’ve had a ball today.” Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Pukemiro teacher Raihera Heka, with 20 children, says the children were over the moon to be invited. “How often do you get to do something like this? It was pretty exciting and more than what we expected. Hopefully one of them will have a think about joining the Navy in the future.” Third and fourth placed schools, Kawakawa School and Ruawai College, enjoyed a visit from a Navy Seasprite helicopter and crew on 4 February.

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Workplace Safety Skills: First Aid Competency y Director of Naval Safety and Health B Commander Raymond McLaughlin

From left, Naval architect Dale Stringer (RNZN Technical Authority), a recovered Greg and LT Sam Mayhew (HMNZS MANAWANUI). Absent is LTCDR Tim Johns.

I thought I would start this first Safety contribution for 2020 with an article on one of the skillsets required to be held and maintained by all NZDF personnel. This skillset is often the basis of the ‘Good Sorts’ type of story frequently published in the HMNZS PHILOMEL Bulletin and I am referring to the Workplace First Aid training that we receive. First Aid refers to the emergency or immediate care you should provide to an injured or ill person until full medical treatment is available. While the NZDF is working to achieve a positive and generative safety culture where safety performance is maximized and safety behaviour is integral, a best practice Safety Management System still requires emergency preparedness and response. All personnel across the Naval System must be prepared and able to respond to apply First Aid in their workplace. Even though I make the reference to workplace First Aid, the level of preparation and response is equally required outside of the Workplace.

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One such recent ‘Good Sorts’ is an excellent example of First Aid preparedness and response. Three Naval personnel were mountain biking late last year and came across Greg, a solo civilian mountain biker who had crashed on an isolated trail in Woodhill forest. Greg was on his feet and stated he was alright but he appeared dazed. While others may have accepted this and ridden off, the three remained to determine what had happened and how Greg actually was. It became apparent that there were probably internal injuries so they stabilized and remained with Greg for two hours until medical assistance arrived, then helped stretcher him out of the forest to the ambulance. I met Greg by happenstance after the accident and learnt that he had two breaks in his pelvis, multiple broken ribs and a brain bleed concussion – his recuperation is still ongoing. He was genuinely grateful that the Navy mountain bikers had happened upon him and had provided assistance. Like all NZDF personnel who respond in these types of situations they are a great indictment of our values and training.

I raised this accident as a ‘Safety Moment’ at a recent meeting and a colleague added that he had just undertaken the Workplace First Aid Refresher course and how beneficial he had found it for a variety of reasons. The Maritime Medical Development Unit at DNB offers this course, code N15010. On the NZDF ILP Course Plan page there are fifteen courses planned for 2020. There are also eighteen Workplace First Aid Refresher courses (N15014) planned for 2020. So if you have undertaken either an initial Workplace First Aid or the Refresher course within the last two years, brilliant. If you haven’t undertaken either one or the other within the last two years then there is plenty of opportunity available through the Maritime Medical Development Unit. After all – you never know if you will need this skillset for a shipmate, workplace colleague, family member, friend or even a total stranger.


AOTEAROA The final stretch home y Andrew Bonallack B Editor It’s starting to feel real for Captain Simon Rooke, Commanding Officer designate of Maritime Sustainability Capability (MSC) vessel AOTEAROA, which is nearing completion in South Korea. It’s probably starting to feel that way for the nine members of AOTEAROA’s Ship’s Company, based in Ulsan as part of the 16-strong MSC Integrated Project Team as AOTEAROA progresses her sea trials off the coast of Ulsan. At time of writing last month, the builders’ sea trials were complete, and Hyundai Heavy Industries were now entering contractor sea trials, demonstrating a range of required criteria to the customer, the Ministry of Defence. “After contractor trials, fitting out continues and if required, rectifications, before another short period at sea in April for confirmation trials,” says CAPT Rooke. “She’ll have a month alongside, from April to May, for final works including a docking for a final paint touch-up. The schedule has MoD deciding whether to accept the ship in early May, and all being well she’ll sail shortly thereafter.” A Hyundai delivery crew will sail AOTEAROA to New Zealand, arriving at the end of May or early June. In the photo, AOTEAROA sits properly at her waterline, due to the ballast water tanks being full, although AOTEAROA does not have any cargo fuel on board. “In this case it was to simulate full load condition for the handling and manoeuvring aspects of the trials HHI were undertaking.”

Ballast tanks are separate from fuel tanks, he says. “When the ship is full of fuel, generally speaking the ballast tanks are empty, but if we need to, as fuel is used or issued to other ships, we may choose to ballast down. The consideration is usually balancing the stability and sea keeping considerations with the fact that the greater the total displacement, generally speaking more power is required to push it through the water.” The ship’s total complement is 65, with 35 posted to AOTEAROA so far. Of the crew, the engineers have been the most involved in Korea, while other crew are based in Auckland preparing for delivery, and attending training courses, which have been in New Zealand, Korea, Norway and the United Kingdom. A large number of the junior members of the Ship’s Company will join by early May. It’s CAPT Rooke’s aim to give as many of his Ship’s Company sea time on AOTEAROA as he can, prior to her arrival in New Zealand. This means rotating his Ship’s Company on board as AOTEAROA is tested as sea, including the delivery voyage to New Zealand. Maritime requirements for a tanker means that only 12 passengers are allowed in ‘MV’ AOTEAROA, but he’s not planning on being one of them. “I’ll come out on the pilot boat, or I’ll be standing on the wharf as she comes alongside. I’m getting my familiarity training during the Contractor Sea trials. It’s important to me to give other members of the crew a chance to also learn from the sea time during the delivery voyage.” There won’t be an opportunity, prior to the delivery voyage, for the

ship to test her Replenishment at Sea (RAS) capability. CAPT Rooke has seen AOTEAROA’s RAS gear extended, but only in trials on land. “Progressive release of capability including RAS will occur during Introduction Into Service once our ship is Commissioned.” However, they will test ‘replenishment station keeping’ during the sea trials, with a HHI-built frigate, destined for the Philippines Navy, planned to conduct RAS Approaches. “HHI will station the patrol frigate about 40 metres off the beam, with one of our navigators on board so we can get observations of how AOTEAROA ‘feels’ to be alongside, from the receiving ship’s perspective.” AOTEAROA’s commissioning date is 18 June, which is during the customisation period after delivery. There is also plenty of crew training, before starting her Sea Acceptance Readiness Checks (SARCs). “It’s three months, but I guarantee you it will feel much shorter for the Ship’s Company. The good part is we’ll have tours for our people to see our Navy’s newest ship – I’m told MANAWANUI can’t wait to hand the torch over as the ‘tour’ ship.” The 2020 diary includes visits to Wellington and the ship’s ceremonial homeport, New Plymouth. In 2021 the ship will practise RAS evolutions with the newly-returned HMNZS TE KAHA. In January 2022, AOTEAROA will travel to McMurdo in Antarctica, as a modern polar-class vessel. “It sounds like a long way off, but with so much capability that needs to be safely and fully realised, AOTEAROA will be very busy between delivery and deploying to Antarctica.”

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Southern Ocean Patrol Vessel It’s no longer just about a “third OPV”. The Defence Capability Plan 2019 has set in motion the journey towards a dedicated Southern Ocean Patrol Vessel (SOPV), built to commercial specifications and designed for longer deployments in an ocean we’re still learning about. Crossing the 60-degree South parallel each year has been a dedicated routine for the hard-working Offshore Patrol Vessels HMNZ Ships WELLINGTON and OTAGO. The Government has now signalled the requirement for a dedicated Southern Ocean Patrol vessel, freeing up OTAGO and WELLINGTON to operate with greater frequency north of New Zealand. An early precursor of the Navy’s intent to operate further and wider was signalled with the decommissioning of two out of four Inshore Patrol Vessels in October (Navy Today #238). The SOPV Integrated Project Team, that recently presented at the PACIFIC 2019 Maritime Exposition in Sydney, is to deliver a ship by the late 2020s that enables whole-ofgovernment efforts to monitor and

As this article goes to print the project is in the process of finalising user requirements for the capability. Work has commenced on drafting the Business Case that will need to consider alternative delivery models, including the purchase and conversion of a suitable second-hand vessel or leveraging a partner-build programme. The current project timeline anticipates delivery of the Southern Ocean Patrol Vessel in 2027.

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respond to activity in the Southern Ocean and Ross Sea. Firstly, the vessel has to be “icecapable”, compliant with the 2017 Polar Code, and designed for the formidable sea conditions and environment of the Southern Ocean. The waters around Antarctica are actually cooling as a result of glacier melt and ice concentrations, meaning the extent of ice is increasing year on year. Robert Galvin, Project Lead, says the transit to 60 degrees South and beyond includes sea conditions not found anywhere else in the world. “Wave buoys within the sea ice of the Ross Sea have dispelled the myth that the Ross Sea ice significantly dampens waves, as it does in the Arctic. “Human factors need to be considered, such as the extreme cold and 24-hour daylight, all of which makes operations significantly more difficult and dangerous.” The vessel, operating some 2,000 nautical miles from New Zealand, would need an endurance of 35 days

or more, with 25 days ‘on station’ and five-day transits either side. In the past, Offshore Patrol Vessels would operate for around half that period. Three years of wave buoy data shows the Southern Ocean has a peak significant wave height greater than the North Atlantic. On average, the Ross Sea is at sea state 5, but has periods where waves are greater than 10 metres. What the project team has weighed up is this: if we create the ideal Southern Ocean ship, capable of operating in these conditions, we effectively have more than just a Navy vessel undertaking fisheries patrols. Why can’t the ship also provide support to science and research? This would mean the Southern Ocean Patrol Vessel could undertake the traditional fisheries monitoring in the Ross Sea, but could also be tasked for resupply, scientific and logistics support to the sub-Antarctic Islands and support of scientific research in the wider Southern Ocean.

Southern Ocean Patrol Vessel

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Our People 1. WOCSS James Harper during a tour of the rescue submarine LR5 on MV Stoker, held as part of Exercise Pacific Reach 19. 2. LT Stephen Knowles achieves his D-Cat category upgrade, and subsequently conducts his first embarked flight on a Seasprite SH2-G(I) from HMNZS WELLINGTON as aircraft captain.


3. CDRE Mat Williams takes command of the fleet from CDRE Tony Millar, in becoming the Maritime Component Commander. 4. AMT(P) Peter Henwood, HMNZS MATATAUA, is promoted to Leading Hand by CPOMT(L) Richard Rowley and Henwood’s girlfriend, Lauren. 5. MID Aidan Folger at the fo’ard end of HMNZS HAWEA’s Ship’s Company as they man the rails, ready for a busy week of training. 6. AET Awhina Owen holds firm during the Seeport Festival tug of war competition. 7. Standing with their Deputy Chief of Navy, CDRE Melissa Ross, are ( from left), CDR Julie Fitzell, CAPT Lisa Hunn and CDR Kerry Tutty. 8. Fiona Jameson is promoted to Commander, with her daughters and husband LTCDR Andrew Jameson helping change her rank slides.


9. OMT(P) Sydney Prisk delights youngsters while demonstrating the fire hose on the flight deck of HMNZS CANTERBURY during the Seeport Festival. 10. CDR Graham MacLean promotes ENS Kyle Butcher to Sub Lieutenant, gifting him with his battered copy of Sub-Lieutenant: A personal record of war at sea.

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First Female Rnzn Commodore Becomes Second-In-Command y Andrew Bonallack B Editor

In 1996, Melissa Ross broke new ground as one of the first women to serve on a warship on an operational mission.

On 6 December, she became the first woman in New Zealand naval history to achieve Commodore rank, and the first woman to be posted as Deputy Chief of Navy. Commodore Ross, of Ngāpuhi descent, was promoted at Te Taua Moana marae in Devonport. She then reported for duty at Devonport Naval Base, taking up her role as second-in-command of the Royal New Zealand Navy. Her family, from Hokianga in Northland to Kawerau, Bay of Plenty, where she grew up, attended the ceremony. She went to Kawerau College (now Tarawera College) and trained in mechanical engineering at Christchurch Polytechnic, while also representing New Zealand in volleyball. Two years in, her sister in law, serving in the Navy, suggested the Navy as a career. “I was looking around for an engineering role, but I didn’t know anything about the Navy at the time.” She joined the Navy in 1993. It never occurred to her that a female marine engineer didn’t at that time have the same opportunities as her male counterparts, but women serving

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at sea had only been going since the late eighties, and in support vessels only. Women were not permitted to serve in frigates until 1994. She was one of the first, heading to HMNZS SOUTHLAND and then HMNZS WELLINGTON to the Arabian Gulf, as part of a multinational interception force (MIF) enforcing the UN sanctions imposed on Iraqi trade. “The frigates weren’t set-up for women. In SOUTHLAND, they just partitioned off part of the senior rates mess deck with plywood for our quarters. During my time in WELLINGTON, Navy learnt a lot about deploying women during and after that trip. But I am glad we had leaders who had the courage and gave women the opportunity to have a career in the Defence Force.” Two high points of her career were the commissioning of HMNZS CANTERBURY, in 2007, and the introduction into service of frigate HMNZS TE KAHA. “Both programmes of work were challenging but extremely rewarding. We had some great people who really worked hard to introduce the capabilities that have done some fantastic things for New Zealand.”

She is excited about her appointment as Deputy Chief of Navy. “This is a really big role, at a time when a lot is happening in the Navy. We have ships being delivered, and returning from upgrades, and we have to ensure we are ready for the next step of bringing them in to service.” What keeps her excited in her career is knowing what the Navy contributes. “We make a difference to the lives of New Zealanders. Whether that is in our communities during natural disasters, whether that is for our nation protecting our resources or whether that is internationally with partners to ensure stability globally.” CDRE Ross has two Masters degrees, most recently as a graduate of the Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy in the United States. She is strongly interested in the development of women in the military and was co-chair of the NZDF Women’s Development Steering Group, which she helped create.

“ With women in the Navy, we still have work to do to create the environment where they can thrive. While this does benefit women, it benefits all of our sailors. We need to continue to attract the best talent so we can deliver to New Zealand and for the people of New Zealand.” ~ Commodore Melissa Ross Deputy Chief of Navy

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Hard work in the homeland Translate for six countries, brush off your number one uniform for a royal guard, and get hands-on with HMNZS MATATAUA’s specialist hydrographic gear. But first things first – invite your family for a meal with your colleagues. That was the impressive list of thinkon-your-feet operational and familial duties for Able Marine Technician (Propulsion) Young Hoon Roh, of South Korean descent. He found himself back in South Korea, attached to MATATAUA’s Military Hydrographic Team 3 at Jinhae Naval Base for a Multi-National Mine Warfare Military Exercise (MN MIWEX), involving mine warfare and hydrographic specialists from Korea, New Zealand, USA, Philippines, Thailand, and France.

Hydrographic underwater surveillance operations, including mine hunting, is not normally on the daily remit for a Marine Technician. He had never put his hands on an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) before. However, MATATAUA likes everyone to be familiar, so in a short space of time, he learnt the basic concepts and was able to deliver mission and equipment briefs in English and Korean. His language skills extended further than just the RNZN team, because no-one else had Navy personnel with dual language skills. AMT(P) Roh ended up fielding every enquiry as the translator for all nations. He was the point of contact for the Korean Navy, as well as ordering food, handling transport, and bargaining with taxi drivers.

The team arrived on a national holiday, allowing them a chance to acclimatise. By coincidence, AMT(P) Roh’s grandmother’s family lived in the same city, Changwon, so the team invited his family out for a traditional Korean meal the night before the start of the exercise. It was the first time his grandmother, uncle, aunt and cousin had seen him in five years.

AMT(P) Roh says he was impressed with how well the RNZN team familiarised themselves with Korean culture. “Some of the team members had already been there before and the rest quickly caught up with the principles and the local Koreans were very friendly to us Kiwis and easy to get along with incredible hospitality. It turned out that both Koreans and

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Above: AMT(P) Young Hoon Roh, LHST Tim Sherriff, AHSO Ana-Marie Conroy, POHST Greg Carter, AHSO Kenneth Woodall.

Kiwis are both pioneers at engineering. We gave the Korean Navy a very good impression about how we were a highly organised, hard-working bunch.” After the exercise he brushed off his number one uniform. He originally intended to observe the naming ceremony of AOTEAROA in Ulsan, but with one ceremonial guard member short, he was asked to step in. “Overall, it was an amazing opportunity and experience the Navy offered me. Every single moment while representing the RNZN in motherland South Korea, has been very motivating and proud for me. I’m so stoked that our two countries have had strong and positive affiliations since the Korean War.”

Defence Housing

Defence Housing

Personnel at HMNZS PHILOMEL live and work in one of the most extreme housing markets in New Zealand. Navy housing makes it possible to keep personnel close, but their availability is coming under pressure. Navy Today explores the issue. New Zealanders are used to the iconic “state house” street frontages in our cities. Most have been privately owned for years. But there are whole streets of uniform houses in the Auckland suburbs of Belmont and Devonport that have been available for Navy personnel for over six decades. The Navy houses of Devonport were constructed in the 1950s and, prior to 2011, there were 381 units and houses available to Naval staff. Today, there are 297. The subsidised rent makes them highly desirable. As a national baseline, all rentals for Defence Housing (more than 1800 in total) across New Zealand are based on typical rental properties in Palmerston North – considered the equitable

norm for New Zealand. This means the rent for a two-bedroom home is set at $330 per fortnight. A threebedroom is $380. It’s a good deal, and a hefty subsidy when compared to the rental market on Auckland’s North Shore. It helps keep skilled personnel close to the base, and reduces the risk of attrition of key personnel unable to cope with the Auckland housing market.

How does it work? Alex Duley, Devonport Customer Support, says Defence housing is prioritised based on need, with a single person being the lowest priority. “We don’t have single room accommodation (apart from barrack accommodation), although single people can apply. We really only have two, three, four bedroom houses. For tax reasons and legality, we can’t give a house to two couples.” People can apply as a married or recognised relationship couple, or as a solo parent with custody of a minor. People posting back from overseas, and in need of somewhere quickly, are top of the queue. “They do a housing application, I check their status, and they go on the waiting list. It’s very straightforward, but you don’t get a house the next day. Right now, there’s 45 on the waiting list.”

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Right: What the future could hold for Defence Housing.

A perception that there are more Defence houses available at Whenuapai is incorrect, she says. “They are just as tight as we are,” she says. “And you can’t be on the Devonport waiting list and also on the Whenuapai list.” Six years is the maximum amount of time allowed in a Defence house. “I tell people, don’t go on the housing list until you really need it.” What is changing? In 2012 the Government announced they would hand back Devonport’s Navy housing and property to Ngati Whatua Orakei in a treaty settlement. It’s also been acknowledged that the existing Navy housing is old and in some cases past its useful life. The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) is looking to provide housing of a better quality by seeking government approval to invest in new modern housing. Once Government approval is secured, NZDF intends to refurbish and retain 27 houses on Calliope Road and build 226 new houses on available land owned by an external party, like a private developer or iwi. This option was chosen because it met all the requirements and offered the best value for money, with fewer risks. The Navy housing register, the subsidies, and the means to apply remains the same as things sit now. But the future Navy tenancies in Devonport will, for the most part, involve subsidised modern houses, on leased property.

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It means, ultimately, the Navy will retain a baseline provision of 253 Devonport houses, based on an estimation of the number of regular force personnel who have more than five years’ experience, but less than nine, with a partner and/or dependants. The houses are intended to be within 30 minutes’ commute from Devonport Naval Base. What other accommodation options are there? Navy personnel who are not in NZDF accommodation are entitled to the Operational Enabling Allowance Posting Readiness (OEAPR) after three years’ service (Defence Force Order 3, Chapter 9). OEAPR contributes towards the additional financial cost for eligible Regular Force members. Entitlement to the allowance is determined by length of service, rank and posting region. Subject to availability, all Regular Force members are entitled to occupy barracks. Personnel still receive OEAPR if they are temporarily in barracks but those permanently in barracks will not. What’s important right now? The time may be right for Navy personnel to consider buying a house. Mortgage rates are at record lows and further changes are pending to house deposit rules. From 1 October 2019 it may be possible to buy a house with as low as a 5% deposit. The Force Financial Hub has also negotiated preferential banking arrangements with ANZ and Westpac bank which

offer discounted mortgage rates to Defence personnel. For many, KiwiSaver is the vehicle through which they are buying a house. In July and August , first home purchases from the NZDF Savings Schemes totalled 43, including 21 in the Auckland region. The recent housing expo in October brought together key Force Financial Hub providers and building companies to meet with interested personnel and their families. More events are planned this year. The Force Financial Hub runs Financing a Home seminars at Devonport Naval Base, including evening sessions for partners. Dates and locations for the programme are available through or the local family and community adviser. The NZDF mortgage broker service is also available to help members obtain mortgages and complete homestart grant application forms. The tools page includes a useful mortgage calculator to help you determine what is affordable. If you are in subsidised Defence Housing or barrack accommodation, use the time to save for a house of your own. To find out more Google Force Financial Hub or email

Defence Housing

Buying your first home

y Suzi Phillips, Senior B Communications Advisor North

When Chief Petty Officer Steward Nic Irvine bought her first home she had lots to learn – later she invested in investing and she now owns several properties. Her message to her fellow sailors wanting to get into the property market, is do your homework, be persistent and be flexible about the options. Doing your homework means learning what’s involved in buying that first home, from the difference between a fixed or floating mortgage to what is happening in the market and where is a good place to start. Doing your homework also includes learning how to make your money work for you, getting into the habit of making rent/mortgage payments for the future even if you don’t have to right now, making savings where you can, and knowing your financial limitations, so you don’t over commit. CPOSTD Irvine also says, “Don’t stop at the first no from a bank or mortgage broker. Look at all the different options for getting into your first home and be flexible.” That flexibility includes all the options, from investing with a trusted friend or friends, to taking on flatmates, and going halves with your parents. There is also “rent-vesting” where you rent in the area you want to live, but buy that first home elsewhere in New Zealand where property is cheaper, to get onto the property ladder.

“There’s more than one way to get a foot on the property ladder and the right time is as soon as you can,” she says. CPOSTD Irvine is from Whangarei and has spent 20 years in the Navy, mainly as a Steward and also in the Flight Deck Officer role at sea. Her career highlights so far include the old Canterbury decommissioning deployment and Op Antarctica in 2004, instructing for the Recruit Training Squadron, and a four-year posting to Maritime Operations Evaluation Team. She is now the Ward Room Mess Manager at Devonport Naval Base. She bought her first home at 26 years old, back in 2007 in Glenfield, going halves with a good friend from the Navy and taking on a flatmate. “The Navy has a great resource of good people for potential flatmates,” she says. “Back then the deposits were small, but the interest rates were high and it was at the peak of the property boom,” she says. “The conversation literally started with ‘have you got $5000 to buy a house because I do and we could buy a house together’. “I didn’t know anything about buying a house and looking back I probably did over-commit myself a bit, so there were serious sacrifices that had to be made,” she says. “I was at sea for four to six months at a time and that helped a lot.”

Those budget-driven sacrifices included a constrained social life and no independent overseas travel. Ten years ago the resources available within NZDF to help with a first home were limited, but now the Force Financial Hub gives employees access to free financial courses, free or discounted financial advice, a mortgage broker service, and quality savings schemes, including Flexisaver. “In 2007 we were able to get a small low interest loan from the NZDF Benevolent Fund to help us with the deposit on our first home and that got us over the line,” says CPOSTD Irvine. “It was also the first loan we paid back. There was no KiwiSaver back then or a way to use your Superannuation.” Three years after she bought her first home, her friend headed overseas and she took on the full mortgage. “I did a property investment course, Property Apprentice, in 2011 which taught me how to make property investment work,” she says. “Some friends thought I was crazy spending $10,000 on the course, but it has definitely worked and paid off financially.” She now has houses in South Auckland, West Auckland, Tokoroa and Wellington with a good property manager the key to those investments. “If you can’t afford to buy your first home in Auckland, buy out of Auckland to get on the property ladder and learn first-hand about the property market,” she says.

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First married couple complete BCT y Suzi Phillips B Senior Communications Advisor North

No public displays of affection, physical contact or fraternising, was the instruction to recruits Natalie Williams and Orson Paine, before their Basic Common Training (BCT) began in September. The two Navy Band musicians are the first married couple to complete the Navy’s BCT at the same time, and two of the first seven Navy Band musicians to complete a full BCT programme. “We had a meeting with the Divisional Officer at Recruit Training School (RTS) who outlined those expectations were for all trainees on the course,” said Ordinary Musician Natalie Williams, 25. “But he also did highlight that it was acceptable for us to sit next to or across from each other during classes and meals, if we had them at the same time.” “The key point was making sure we stayed professional at all times while at RTS,” says Ordinary Musician Orson Paine, 26. “This was both to fit into the NZDF regulations on fraternisation, as well as serving as an example to other potential couples that might also be on training.”

and we could submit letters to our instructors to pass on to our spouse when they handed out mail to the recruits,” says OMUS Williams. Their conversations were confined more to those letters, and they also had a daily “BCT Bandie catch up” where the band members met for a few minutes in the boot-locker after lunch times to checkin on how everyone was coping. “Orson and I were able to talk briefly with the rest of the team during these times. It was those moments of contact, along with Church services on Sunday that kept me going during Phase 1,” says OMUS Williams. Fitness was another learning experience and during training, OMUS Paine lost 10kg. OMUS Williams said the fitness training challenged her most. “I realised I was a lot more anxious and it impacted how I saw the rest of the training and changed my goals, from just doing my best to learning how to survive under different circumstances,” she said.

They were put in different divisions and so for the first six weeks of the 15-week course, they had very little time together.

“That was good because I learned how to deal with the anxiety that I didn’t know I had. Those skills will always serve you well through anything you do.”

“We were allowed to talk to one another as colleagues in communal spaces such as the boot-locker,

Things got easier once leave was allowed, says OMUS Paine. “It became a good deal easier to talk

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through our individual challenges. By that point we’d earnt some trust from the instructors as well, and they moved us around to be in the same duty watch so our leave times were all the same which was great. I’m very grateful that that was able to happen.” They are both from Adelaide and both accomplished musicians in their specialist instrument, each with a Bachelor of Music from the Elder Conservatorium, University of Adelaide and further post-graduate qualifications. OMUS Paine is a talented trumpet player who was Principal Trumpet with the Australian Youth Orchestra and with the Australian International Symphony Orchestra Institute. OMUS Williams played French Horn for the Adelaide Wind Orchestra, Co-Opera South Australia and worked as a freelance performer, along with teaching music in schools and directing youth brass bands across Adelaide. She says the idea of moving to a beautiful new country with new opportunities was exciting. “The RNZN Band was particularly welcoming with genuine, friendly personnel, a progressive and positive attitude towards music and modernday musicians in the Defence Force.”

School to Seas

The Royal New Zealand Navy is piloting a “School to Seas” programme this April in a move to increase gender diversity across the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) trades in its workforce. For one week, 32 year-13 female students will be based at Devonport Naval Base, getting a detailed insight and “hands-on” experiential learning in Navy technical, engineering and warfare careers. An emphasis will be on demonstrating how the students’ current STEM subjects translate into “real world” careers in the Navy and wider maritime industry. The concept models the Air Force’s “School to Skies” programme, which has been running successfully since 2017. Since the inception of School to Skies and other diversity initiatives, the overall representation of women in the Air Force has grown from 17 per cent to 19.8 per cent after remaining static for a decade. Lieutenant Commander Jacinda Johnston (pictured above), School to Seas project manager, is excited about the real career possibilities they’ll demonstrate to the students. She says the programme supports the organisational objective of 30 per cent female representation in the Navy by 2025 (currently 24.9 per cent). She wants to tackle some of the misconceptions about STEM career opportunities for women by showing how valuable these skills are to New Zealand’s substantial maritime industry. “We want the best talent for our organisation, but the competition is fierce. All of NZ industry is recruiting for youth in STEM, and we need a seat at that table,” she says. “Young women and their parents make assumptions based on our statistics. We simply struggle to

reach 50 per cent of our audience. But there are a lot of exciting opportunities in the maritime industry. It’s a massive part of New Zealand’s identity, culture and economy. There are a lot of future career options, and people don’t realise we’re part of a much larger team.” LTCDR Johnston started receiving applications within hours of the portal opening to students. “We know there is a demand – young women are curious and enthusiastic about the marine industry. We’re simply providing a platform to reach them.” The week-long course will target the roles of engineers, marine and electronic technicians and navigation warfare trades. “We also work on leadership, personal development and resilience. Anyone considering joining will need to work well in a team, especially at sea.” As well as showcasing how STEM subjects translate to the real world, the students will be exposed to the Navy lifestyle, and experience life on

board a ship. “Best of all, they get to interact with our fantastic servicemen and women. Mentoring and rolemodelling are a huge part of the programme.” The key success driver is the students get hands-on with the work. “Take this apart, put it together, build this, repair that, and problem solve. We’re going to teach them a lot of skills from scratch, get them on a level playing field, and show them how the same principles apply from the school classroom to the equipment. There is absolutely no substitute for doing! We aim to give context as they learn, showing how these skills contribute toward achieving the mission.” For example, students will learn about mechanical engineering, robotics, electronics and navigation. “I don’t want to give away too much,” she says. “But we want to build confidence at an individual level, and then leave them with new skills and a peer support network when they depart.”

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Shared experience helps siblings y Suzi Phillips B Senior Communications Advisor North

Coming from a close-knit family and a small town can have its challenges when you join the Royal New Zealand Navy – less so if your siblings and cousins are in the Navy too.

Siblings – Mikayla, Lukas and Quade George – each left home in the Northland town of Russell to pursue a career in the Navy when aged about 18 years old. Eldest sibling Mikayla, now 22 years, is an Able Weapons Technician based at Devonport Naval Base and was the first of her immediate family to join the Navy. “We are a close-knit family, so it’s been great to be around to support each other and share our experiences of being in the Navy,” she said. “We get a bit of banter from other sailors about having family in the Navy, and I often hear about my brothers from other sailors. That’s quite cool, I like that. “We compare experiences a lot, such as how different the BCT courses were and the differences in our graduations,” she says. “We keep in touch all the time and are used to supporting each other.” she says.

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When AWT George joined, she also had family support from some of her Russell cousins and her Aunty and Uncle – all of whom are serving in the Navy. “I joined the Navy straight from school. My Aunty who was already in the Navy suggested it to me, as a good career.” She did her Basic Common Training (BCT) at the start of 2016 and was glad of the insights from her cousin who had completed BCT in the intake before her. “She said, ‘if I can do it, you can do it’, so that gave me some confidence,” she says. “I went into it very fit from the sport I was doing, playing rugby 7s four times each week as well as touch and netball. I knew a bit about what to expect in BCT and that helped.” AWT George had played a lot of sport at Bay of Islands College in Kawakawa, including netball, touch rugby, rugby 7s, badminton, volleyball and table tennis.

George Family

“Moving to Auckland in 2016 was quite scary at first, going from a small town where I knew everyone to a massive city I’d not seen before.” After BCT, she did her electronic technician training, learning the basics of the trade, and then specialised as a weapons technician, as she preferred the more hands on weapons technician work. She trained at the School for Weapon Engineering and as a Weapons Technician she was mostly based on the Anzac frigates when not on shore and those trips are the highlight of her career so far. “I travelled in New Zealand waters on HMNZS TE KAHA and as far as Hawaii, during her delivery voyage to Canada for her Weapons Systems Upgrade.”

When her brother Lukas joined the Navy, he and AWT George flatted together for 18 months but have gone their own way now with his sister and her partner recently buying their first home.

“It was good having my sister here because I came to Auckland not knowing many people here and coming from a small town it was great having family in the Navy and having family close.”

OMT Lukas George, 20, joined the Navy in 2018 straight from college, as a marine technician.

“We are a close family and we three meet up quite a bit, such as playing touch rugby in the Thursday Hillcrest competition,” he said. “We also have our six cousins from Russell and have all grown up together, so it’s good support.”

“I had attended my sister’s BCT graduation and visited Base several times and enjoyed what I saw and that pushed me towards opting for a military career,” he said. “Before I joined, I didn’t know much about the Navy, I was just keen to travel and serve on a ship,” he said. He has since completed his Marine Technician course which is 16 months with time in both the academic school and the trade training workshop.

OMT George posted to his first ship in August last year, to HMNZS MANAWANUI, and is looking forward to lots of overseas travel with the ship this year. Their brother, Quade who completed his BCT in December, wants to be an engineer in the Navy. “He’s very hands on and practical and enjoyed building with my Dad before he joined up,” says AWT George.

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Navy Chef of the Year 2019 y Suzi Phillips B Senior Communications Advisor North An outstanding young Royal New Zealand Navy Chef who served at sea for most of her first year after training, was recognised with the inaugural Chef of the Year award at Devonport Naval Base in December. Able Chef Alice Wyatt, 20, from Gore, did her Basic Common Training from August 2018, later topping her Junior Caterers Course intake at Waiouru Army Camp. She was posted to HMNZS CANTERBURY three times in the past year – for Operation Hiki Ano, Exercise Talisman Sabre, and most recently for Operation Endurance.

And bad bouts of seasickness on board ship have not put ACH Wyatt off wanting to go to sea. “I joined the Navy because I wanted to travel, and I love being at sea. I’m very keen to get another opportunity,” she says. “I’ve tried all sorts of cures.” She says she has always wanted to serve in the military and joined after finishing her studies at Gore High School. “My mum is a wonderful cook and baker and I’ve grown up around food and baking,” she said. “I have a very sweet tooth and Mum’s carrot cake is my favourite.”

Those experiences resulted in a busy first year with visits to New Zealand and Australian ports as well as Campbell Island in the Sub-Antarctic Islands.

While she has learned a lot working in the ship’s galley, she also enjoys baking and desserts, and gets to specialise in those when serving onshore, learning about making desserts in the Officer’s Mess at the Base.

“On CANTERBURY, we usually had 200–250 people to feed at each meal, so it’s a challenge cooking for those large numbers of people. Also at sea you are cooking in a restricted space and have to secure all your equipment for when the seas get rough.”

Fleet Catering Advisor, WOCH Wayne Mitchell, said the Chef of the Year award was awarded to ACH Wyatt for her demonstration of the NZDF core values to a high standard and strong personal traits that exceeded expectations for her experience level.

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“She has a knack for thinking outside of the box in order to solve difficult problems before seeking further assistance. This has led to her being trusted to complete functions by herself, even going the next step and taking charge of them – a task which is normally conducted by a two star Able or Leading Chef.” WOCH Mitchell said ACH Wyatt has a positive, supportive and respectful demeanour despite pressures placed on her as a junior member of the Galley. “She is motivated to going to and staying at sea despite experiencing a high level of sea sickness. This was seen by her volunteering to augment in the future on-board CANTERBURY.” Outside of the Galley and the Navy, ACH Wyatt regularly plays weekly sports, and has also been sighted playing the bagpipes – another family talent, this one learned from her uncle. She regularly played in Gore’s Hokonui Celtic group before joining the Navy.

Navy Scholarship

Right: Warrant Officer Cadet Caitlyn Ward receives her Chief of Navy Scholarship from Chief of Navy, RADM David Proctor at the Devonport Naval Base.

Commitment and dedication earns Naval scholarship y Suzi Phillips B Senior Communications Adviser Extraordinary commitment and dedication to the Cadet Force earned Rotorua student, Caitlyn Ward, a Chief of Navy Scholarship in December. Cadet Warrant Officer Caitlyn Ward, of TS WAIKATO in Hamilton, was commended for her “commitment to personal and professional development, courage to pursue her chosen career path, and dedication to supporting the development of other Cadets”. Her citation described her as “an outstanding young woman who consistently displays the four Core Values of the Royal New Zealand Navy, Courage (Tū Kaha), Commitment (Tū Tika), Comradeship (Tū Tira) and Integrity (Tū Māia), across all facets of her life”. CDTWO Ward says that when she found out she had won the $5,000 scholarship, she felt extremely lucky. She had just completed her final year at Western Heights High School in Rotorua.

“It was a relief to know that I would have this extra money to help take some of the financial stress away,” she said. “When receiving the scholarship from the Chief of Navy, I felt so privileged and honoured to think that he thought I was worthy and deserving of this. It was an amazing experience and a very lucky one for me to get the chance to be a part of.” CDTWO Ward played a major leadership role within TS WAIKATO, mentoring younger members of the unit and facilitating the development of other Cadets over her five and a half years as a Cadet. The citation for her award noted that she staffed several NonCommissioned Officer promotional courses for the Northern Area, including as the course Warrant Officer, “a position reflective of the respect with which she is regarded by officers, peers and cadets alike.

enable it to avoid being placed into recess, and has assisted in the development of a fair and vibrant culture. “Caitlyn is a very high-achieving and well-rounded individual, who has displayed extraordinary commitment to the unit and wider Cadet Force – travelling from Rotorua to Hamilton weekly to attend parade and other cadet activities, despite juggling other obligations that would have prevented other members from attending.” CDTWO Ward intends to study a Bachelor of Health Science degree at Auckland University of Technology, majoring in Paramedicine.

“She has been instrumental in helping to reshape and rebuild the unit to

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Southern-Most Marathon By Judith Martin Navy medic and former Gisborne man Max Neustroski can lay claim to a feat not many others can – he has won a marathon in the most southern continent in the world, Antarctica.

AMED Neustroski said the race was a fun thing to do, and he had prepared with shorter runs whenever the Antarctic weather allowed, and some time on the base’s treadmills.

“I’ve had a bit of time to acclimatise down here so I started the race in a thermal, tee-shirt, light jacket, tights and shorts, and socks. I ended it in just a tee-shirt, tights and shorts.”

Able Medic Neustroski, a former Gisborne Boys’ High School student, won the McMurdo marathon in a time of three hours 42 minutes. Along with three other New Zealand Defence Force personnel – Major Andrew Thornton, Corporal Flea Beaven, and Lance Corporal Robin Goomes – he joined 50 other competitors on the start line for the marathon.

“It was interesting running in soft and compacted snow, but the views of the mountain ranges, Mount Discovery and the Ross Ice Shelf were amazing,” he said.

The marathon was a first for Major Thornton who came third with a time of 4:19:00. It was also LCPL Goomes’ first marathon, and she went on to complete the ultra-marathon (52km) and claim first place with her time of 6:04:00.

He has competed in a marathon in New Zealand before, but mainly prefers CrossFit activities and cross country running. The race was held on the Ross Ice Shelf (a glacier the size of France connected to the continent and floating on the ocean) and provided interesting running terrain with areas of soft snow, compacted snow, groomed ice and slippery ice.

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The race course was simple with a five km hydration station to break up the four 10km straight runs to Phoenix Airfield (the turnaround point). As in any endurance event runners needed snacks and hydration, however, Antarctica is known as the coldest, driest and windiest continent on earth so there were a few additional things to consider such as clothing layering to ensure the correct temperature was maintained.

While AMED Neustroski can usually be found working as a medic on Navy ships, his job in Antarctica is communications operator where he works shifts with three others, communicating mainly with science programme personnel throughout the continent.

Tower de Force

Tower de Force Challenge in March

“Every day we see the way the NZDF and other emergency first responders apply their skills and dedication to conduct more than 2,500 missions annually in New Zealand, successfully rescuing around 750 people and directly saving more than 200 lives,” says SkyCity Corporate Event Manager, Lizzie Leuchars. “In recognition of these extraordinary individuals and to celebrate their bravery, dedication and courage, SkyCity Auckland in association with the NZDF proudly presents ‘Tower de Force... Rise to the Challenge’ for its fourth year,” she says. The Royal New Zealand Navy team are the defending champions for the Tower de Force military and first responders’ skills challenge that will be contested again in March at SkyCity’s Auckland Sky Tower.

“This exciting urban relay-challenge is a multi-discipline fitness event that pits team against team from different organisations, in a battle of skill, agility, teamwork, stamina and brute strength.”

Teams from the Navy, the New Zealand Army, the Royal New Zealand Air Force and New Zealand Defence Force Veterans will join first responder teams from Police, St John Ambulance and the Fire Service, as well as the SkyCity Rigging Team to contest the event on Saturday 21 March from 1pm to 4pm.

The Tower de Force challenge supports the Key to Life Foundation and Gumboot Friday Trust to raise funds and awareness around mental health and suicide prevention.

Top Right: 2019 Navy team members AMT(L) Benjamin Ruddiman and LMT(L) Travis Nock train for Tower de Force. Above: AMED Max Neustroski takes to the stars in last year’s challenge.

The mixed teams competing in the challenge will be made up of six participants plus four support crew.

On the day, NZDF Cadet teams will also compete in the Tower de Cadets 2020. Last year the No. 5 (Rodney District) Squadron, Air Training Corps team took the 2019 prize. Tower de Force will begin in front of team supporters and the public, at 2pm with a brief military ceremony at Sky Tower Plaza for the raising of the New Zealand Flag. At 2.15pm the challenge begins with each team dispatched every 15 minutes and starting with a military skills test outside on the Sky Tower Plaza, before allocated team members complete the rest of the course. This includes climbing 1,226 stairs to level 62, performing an emergency first aid challenge, a 91-metre Sky Tower mast climb to retrieve their team flag at 326m above ground, a descent to level 43, and an abseil with the flag from 160m to ground level, before raising their team flag in the plaza at the base of the Sky Tower. Once all teams have completed the challenge, it is concluded with a bugler playing the ‘Sunset’ as all flags are lowered and a prize-giving is held at SkyCity from 6pm.

Come along to the Tower de Force challenge on Saturday 21 March to support your team!

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Sharing Stories y Sharon Lundy B Team Leader Communications

“If you want to change the world you’ve got to start sharing your stories, so people know it’s okay to talk about the hard things in life.” That’s a lesson Chief Petty Officer Logistics Supply Specialist David Sanderson learned the hard way six years ago: he was moments away from attempting to take his own life after mental illness overwhelmed him. A chance phone call from father John Sanderson, who picked up on his distress and raced to his home, saved him. CPOLSS Sanderson, 29, had spent the previous seven months at sea, increasingly isolating himself and thinking about self-harm daily. He went out only once when he got home. “I got drunk with my mates and I started crying and told them that I wanted to kill myself. That was kind of like the first time that I’d told anyone, but they didn’t know how to react because no one had said that to them before. “So it was kind of hush-hush in a way, because we didn’t actually bring it up. “But I know now that the stigma of mental illness will always be there until people talk freely about it.” CPOLSS Sanderson was subsequently diagnosed with depression and anxiety, and the latest step in his road to recovery was applying for – and being accepted into – the NZDF Invictus Games team for The Hague 2020. He applied for the team at the suggestion of the Warrant Officer of the Navy, Wayne Dyke.

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He was hesitant to apply as he didn’t believe he was eligible but is now “super glad” he did. “I know that I haven’t been the only one that’s struggled with mental illness, because I’ve had people approach me at work and ask for help, but the team enables me to realise there’s just such a huge group of former and current serving personnel who might feel the same as I do. “I feel extremely comfortable in their presence, because I know they’ve felt what I’ve felt. I’m in contact with members on a daily basis, we talk about things and we just spend time with each other. It just shows that we’re not alone.” That has also been the experience for fellow team member Chief Petty Officer Combat System Specialist Quintin Monk, who has survived bowel cancer. CPOCSS Monk was also encouraged to apply by the WON and said the journey had been great. “It has created the environment in which I feel like I can talk about my illness,” the father of six girls said. Able Communication Warfare Specialist Paulette Doctor is one of those well-placed to offer support and advice to other team members as she is one of three in the 22-strong team who has been to a previous Games, competing in Toronto, Canada. The two-time breast cancer survivor said her advice to new team members was to be open to the experience.

“I know that a lot of our new team members will be feeling nervous. It’s all a learning curve, but it’s the most enjoyable experience that you’ll really get to celebrate within the Defence Force. “For me it’s been one of the best deployments, for want of a better term, that I’ve ever had. To be able to do it again without all the nerves, without all the worries that came with the first campaign, is wonderful.” The Invictus Games The Hague 2020, from 9–16 May, will involve 500 competitors from 19 allied nations competing in 10 different adaptive sports. The NZDF team comprises eight women and 14 men, and all but four members are currently serving or work for Defence. The team is supported by Fulton Hogan, Dynasty and Panasonic. Throughout the Games the team’s journey can be followed on:




Medals Reunited

Medals reunited y Andrew Bonallack B Editor

Navy Today has helped reunite a family with the medals of a Navy war veteran after they turned up in a charity shop in Hastings just before Christmas. Cranford Hospice shop manager Kim Priest contacted Navy Today after discovering a donated Naval officer’s uniforms still had ribbons and miniature medals attached, showing World War II service. The only clue was a lapel on the inside of a jacket, indicating the officer was a ‘Commander Willis’. Ms Priest says it was her “personal, moral and ethical view” that medals should not be sold for profit. “They contain a personal and national history that is priceless.” She couldn’t remember who had dropped in the bags containing the uniforms, as it had been a hectic day. She contacted Navy Today, who contacted historian Michael Wynd at the Navy Museum. He theorised it could be Commander Walter John ‘Wally’ Willis, an engineer who helped deliver HMNZS ROYALIST to New Zealand.

and then to the brother’s son Thomas Willis, who had dropped the uniforms off but hadn’t realised the medals and ribbons were still attached when he bundled them up. The phone call solved a mystery for him, he says. He remembered playing with the medals as a child but could not figure out where they had gone when he received the boxed-up uniforms after his grandfather died. He had had an idea of restoring the uniforms, but in the end he discussed with his family about donating them to a charity. “They were sitting in cardboard boxes in the garage,” he said. He bundled them up in bags, not realising the medals and ribbons were attached, and dropped them off at Cranford. Last month the medals were returned to Mr Willis, who says it was wonderful Ms Priest had the presence of mind to get in touch with the Navy. The medals and ribbons will now be formally displayed in his home. “He loved his time in the Navy,” he says. CDR Willis continued his service after the war, retiring from the Navy in 1968.

The Navy Today editor pulled CDR Willis’ NZ Herald death notice, found the names of his family, and started tracing them. Phone calls to his son’s former business led to his brother,

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