'Switching Sides' Pays Off for New Naval Officer
MID Williams receives the trophy for Top Commissioned from the Ranks Officer from the graduation parade Reviewing Officer, Captain Andrew Nuttall.
9 January 2017
The decision to “switch sides” from sailor to officer is paying off for Midshipman (MID) Erica Williams, of Papakura, who scooped two top awards at her recent graduation.
At the Royal New Zealand Navy Junior Officer Common Training (JOCT) Graduation Parade, held at the end of last year at the Devonport Naval Base, she received the Commodore Davis-Goff Trophy for Top Commissioned from the Ranks Officer and the Captain Palmer Parade Commander Award. Commodore George Davis-Goff was the first New Zealander to attain commissioned rank from the lower deck, in 1941.
The awards topped off a busy 22 weeks for the 26-year-old former Papakura High School student. The JOCT course aims to shape civilians into capable junior officers able to demonstrate strong leadership skills and knowledge. It includes core marine and military skills training, as well as academic and leadership development.
It wasn’t completely new territory for MID Williams, who joined the Navy in 2013 as a steward. During that time she also won an award, as Top Student on the Intermediate Stewards Course.
“I was previously an Able Steward, where I wore various hats, including as medical, galley assistant and captain’s stewards. My role was to look after the officers on ship and on base – I have basically switched sides,” she says. “I am excited about returning to sea as an assistant supply officer, and learning as much as I can about my new role.”
She joined the Navy three years ago, “primarily to escape the mundane office life I had before, and immerse myself in a much more rewarding and exciting career.”
She has not been disappointed. Her three years in the Navy have involved three international deployments: to Australia for Exercise Talisman Sabre 2015, and two humanitarian aid missions to the Pacific: Tropical Cyclone Pam, 2015, and Tropical Cyclone Winston, earlier this year.
“One of the highlights of my career so far was assisting a small village hospital on the island of Vanua Balavu in Fiji after TC Winston,” she says.
She says she would recommend a career in the Navy to others.
“The Navy supports personal growth, travel, family and professional development in each of its sailors and officers.
“I am very family-orientated, and I play a lot of social sports – I am lucky that the Navy accommodates these, and is just as family-orientated as I am, so it’s very easy.”
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