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Source: New Zealand Defence Force

29 June 2020

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Part of the reason Hastings woman Kelsey Bartlett joined the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) was the opportunity to travel and now she is about to see the world on board the RNZN’s biggest-ever ship.


Able Steward Bartlett is part of the inaugural crew of Aotearoa, a 173-metre-long sustainment vessel that boasts state-of-the-art design and capability features.


Aotearoa completed her sea trials off South Korea recently and arrived in New Zealand last week, after a 16-day journey. She will be formally commissioned at the Devonport Naval Base in late July and Able Steward Bartlett can’t wait to get on board.


“It’s an amazing opportunity to be part of the commissioning crew for New Zealand’s largest-ever vessel,” she said. “It’s certainly a career highlight so far.”


Able Steward Bartlett joined the RNZN in 2017, having become interested in a naval career while at St Joseph’s Māori Girls’ College.


“I just liked the opportunities and experiences that the Navy provides, and of course the chance to travel,” she said.


As part of her training she has gained international qualifications in catering and her principal role now is ensuring that the officers’ wardroom is ship-shape.


However, when on board she also has other duties, serving as a firefighter in the damage control team and deckhand for helicopter exercises.


She has already deployed overseas twice, to Singapore and Australia in 2018 for multinational military exercises. Her next trip will be on Aotearoa, the biggest ship in the fleet.


For the Commanding Officer of Aotearoa, Captain Simon Rooke, it’s all hands on deck as the ship gets nearer to being commissioned.


“I’m delighted with the calibre of officers and sailors we have and I know how proud they all are to be posted to Aotearoa,” Captain Rooke said. “There’s something very special about being a crew member of not only a brand new Navy ship but the biggest one we’ve ever had in our fleet.”


Aotearoa will assist the New Zealand Defence Force’s Southern Ocean monitoring. The ship’s enhanced “winterisation” capabilities, such as ice-strengthening, will allow it to undertake operations in Antarctica, including resupplying McMurdo Station and Scott Base.


Aotearoa has a world-first naval “Environship” design, which incorporates a new wave-piercing hull form that reduces resistance and lowers fuel consumption, while its combined diesel-electric and diesel propulsion plant has lower exhaust emissions than older ships.