When Whangārei woman Chanel Ruri joined the navy she never expected that her first posting would be on New Zealand's largest ever ship.
Ordinary Communications Warfare Specialist Ruri attended Tikipunga High School, and her first posting in the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN)is part of the inaugural crew of Aotearoa, a 173-metre-long sustainment vessel that boasts state-of-the-art design. And she can't wait to get on board.
"I am excited about all the upcoming opportunities to learn new skills, travel the world and serve my country on this beautiful new ship," she said.
Ruri joined the RNZN in 2018 after being persuaded by her older sister Anya, who was already serving.
"I had always been attracted to military life and Anya's navy experiences convinced me to join," she said. "I saw it as an opportunity to be in a role where you are proud of what you do and other people are proud of you for doing it.
"I am so glad I did join. I have been pushed beyond my comfort zone in training, but I have learnt how to assist with damage control, floods, fires and toxic gas, as well as gaining skills in anchoring, replenishment at sea, and different ways to communicate tactically."
On Aotearoa she will be to provide secure and reliable means of communication using flag signalling and hoisting, Morse code, tactical voice operation, radio, and sending and receiving signals between ships and to shore stations.
"Because this is my first posting on a ship, every day will be new to me, so I will be trying to learn as much as I can. I am really looking forward to the new experiences, new places to visit and getting out there to do my job."
Her budding artistic skills will also have an influence on Aotearoa – she has been asked to design labels and T-shirts for the crew.
For the commanding officer of Aotearoa, Captain Simon Rooke, it's all hands on deck as the ship gets nearer to being commissioned.
Aotearoa arrived in New Zealand in late June, after a 16-day journey from South Korea, where it was built. It will be formally commissioned at the Devonport Naval Base later this month.
It will assist the New Zealand Defence Force's Southern Ocean monitoring and its enhanced "winterisation" capabilities, such as ice-strengthening, will allow it to undertake operations in Antarctica, including resupplying McMurdo Station and Scott Base.
It 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.