A sailor who started his career in the Navy as a chef is now the newest commanding officer.

Lieutenant Brock West has taken command of HMNZ Taupo, one of the Navy's four inshore patrol vessels.

The 28-year-old joined the Navy in 2006 when he was 17 after finishing his sixth form year at Paraparaumu College.

"I had done a bit of sailing, diving, swimming and I had always wanted to be a chef," he said.


In 2011 he was named Sailor of the Year for his work during the evacuation of the Rena in the Bay of Plenty in October that year. He was part of the team from HMNZS Rotoiti that helped rescue 21 crew members.

He said there was "a lot of wind and a reasonable swell" during the rescue.

"The containers were creaking, we were so small below them."

A Rena crew member fell 5m while climbing down a ladder to Navy boats, landing on and injuring the bowman on the boat next to West's. West then took charge, jumping onto the other boat and providing first aid.

The year after his decoration, he began officer training, graduating in 2013.

"It's gone really well. I spent two years on frigate HMNZS Te Kaha as a seaman officer, with courses in between, and finished a command course in February.

"Then I got a phone call asking if I would like to take command of Taupo."

West said he misses his days as a chef, but gets his fix by doing most of the cooking at home.