Able Steward Kelsey Bartlett is set to be part of the inaugural crew of the Royal New Zealand Navy's biggest-ever ship, Aotearoa. Photo / Supplied

A Hastings woman is set to be part of the inaugural crew of Royal New Zealand Navy's biggest vessel - and the world's first "environship".

Able Steward Kelsey Bartlett, who joined the RNZN in 2017, is to be part of the crew on board Aotearoa – a 173-metre-long sustainment vessel that boasts state-of-the-art design and capability features.

Bartlett, whose interest in a naval career begun at St Joseph's Māori Girls' College, said the prospect of being a crew member on the ship is a "career highlight, so far".


"It's an amazing opportunity to be part of the commissioning crew for New Zealand's largest-ever vessel," she said.

"I just liked the opportunities and experiences that the Navy provides and, of course, the chance to travel."

Aotearoa, who will be formally commissioned at the Devonport Naval Base in late July, recently completed her sea trials off South Korea and arrived in New Zealand last week, after a 16-day journey.

The ship will assist the New Zealand Defence Force's Southern Ocean monitoring.

As part of Bartlett's training, she gained international qualifications in catering among other skills, with her current principal role to ensure the officers' wardroom is in ship-shape.

When onboard, the Able Steward also has other duties including serving as a firefighter in the damage control team and deckhand for helicopter exercises.

Bartlett has been deployed to both Singapore and Australia, in 2018, for multinational military exercises.

Aotearoa's enhanced "winterisation" capabilities, such as ice-strengthening, will allow it to undertake operations in Antarctica, including resupplying McMurdo Station and Scott Base.


It also has the world's 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.

Commanding Officer of Aotearoa, Captain Simon Rooke, said he was delighted with the calibre of officers and sailors who will be onboard.

"I know how proud they all are to be posted to Aotearoa," he 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."