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'Shy Girl' Blooms as Warfare Officer

20120531_PH_M1032159_0001 Sub Lieutenant Aimee Dawson plots the position of the ship on the bridge of HMNZS ENDEAVOUR

11 June 2012

When Aimee Dawson was growing up in Tauranga the self declared "shy kid" enjoyed ballet and playing the piano. Now, as the 23 year old Warfare Officer in the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) deploys for the largest naval exercise in the world, she can barely believe how far she has come.

"I was the shy kid who grew up doing ballet, now I stand on the bridge of HMNZS ENDEAVOUR, a 138 metre tanker, as the representative of the Captain when he is not on the bridge. Every day is different!"

Sub Lieutenant Dawson joined the Navy in July 2010 and has not only nearly achieved her Officer of the Watch qualification, allowing her to plan and execute the navigation of the ship in close proximity to land and across the ocean, but she is also now a fully qualified Damage Control Officer (DCO).

It is her role as the DCO onboard ENDEAVOUR that led to a recent Commendation from her Commanding Officer. As a specialist in this area she co-ordinates the efforts of the crew during fire, flood, toxic gas and other emergencies.

ENDEAVOUR recently underwent a rigorous six week assessment, along side other RNZN and Royal Australian Navy vessels, in simulated war-like conditions. Both the ship and Sub Lieutenant Dawson passed with very good results.

The next challenge of Exercise Rim of the Pacific will involve working with the defence forces of 22 countries, a total of 25,000 personnel, 42 ships, six submarines, and over 200 aircraft. It is a prospect Aimee is relishing and believes it will quickly become yet another career highlight.

"Since joining the Navy in 2010 I have navigated ships through and around some of New Zealand’s most beautiful scenery, including Milford and Marlborough Sounds, Stewart Island, Bay of Islands and Great Barrier Island. I can’t wait to now patrol and manoeuvre my ship in a warfare scenario on the world stage."

HMNZS TE KAHA, the Operational Diving Team and the Mine Counter Measures Team, a Rifle Platoon from 1 Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment, a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K Orion, and a number of headquarters staff will also take part in the exercise.

As she sailed New Zealand waters this week for four months away, Dawson reflected on her career choice of joining the RNZN. "No two days are ever the same. I wanted a life less ordinary, and definitely didn’t want a desk job; the Navy has more than fulfilled both these expectations."


For more information contact Lieutenant Commander Angela Barker, Senior Communications and Media Advisor (Navy) on 021 244 0638.

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