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Source: New Zealand Defence Force

3 July 2020

Dunedin man Oliver Redshaw joined the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) to gain new experiences and to travel and he is about to get those opportunities on board the RNZN’s biggest-ever ship.

Leading Marine Technician Redshaw 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 Leading Marine Technician Redshaw can’t wait to get on board.

“It has been a goal since before I joined the Navy to travel as far south as possible and hopefully at some stage on Aotearoa I can get to Antarctica,” he said. “It will be so special to sail to a place not many people have been to.”

Leading Marine Technician Redshaw, who attended Bayfield High School, joined the RNZN in 2014 because he wanted to travel, do a job that was different from “nine to five” and to make a difference.

He trained as an electrical engineer, where a typical day involves working on the electrical systems on ships, conducting servicing or maintenance on anything from electric motors and lighting circuits, and working on ships’ generators and main engines.

“Each day is different, because there is such a wide variety of equipment and technology to learn about and work on while at sea,” he said.

Among career highlights so far are deploying to Fiji on HMNZS Canterbury in 2016 to help after Cyclone Winston caused widespread damage, helping after Kaikoura was struck by a powerful earthquake later the same year, travelling to Raoul Island on a resupply mission in 2017, and travelling to Norway in 2019 to learn about the new Rolls Royce and Kongsberg equipment he will be working with on Aotearoa.

“On the disaster relief operations I often would be working to quickly rectify any mechanical issues that arose with the landing craft, so we could continue delivering supplies and vehicles to wherever we were deployed,” he said.

“When not on the landing craft or ship I would go ashore to help the community with anything from fixing their generators to assisting the Army with their tasks repairing buildings.”

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.