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March 2007 - Olphert - A Busy Ship

OLPHERT remains busy with training on various ships, and ashore as well as a series of social events for the Reservists of Wellington, as Ensign Milkop writes:

"With the redeployment of Wakakura to the regular force, there was always going to be a bit of uncertainty over how the Wellington division of the volunteer reserve was going to adapt and move forward.

For a while, the retention of Kiwi meant that things were “business as usual”, albeit with frequent trips to Lyttleton harbour instead of Wellington harbour to undertake on-board training.  Now, however, it is a different matter.

It seems that there are three pillars that support a successful volunteer reserve division: experience gained at sea; a comprehensive training programme; and frequent social activities – or “sea, tests, and sun” as Serge Gainsbourg didn’t quite say.

At Olphert, we are ensuring that we concentrate on these three aspects to ensure that we remain as relevant as ever.  On the first front, many OLPHERT personnel have already been to sea in a number of different ships.

Naval Reserves on the water during RHIB exercise.

Reserves on RHIB.

At first there was some trepidation at having to join a ship’s company of regular force crew – sometimes as the only “rockie” on board.  Many reservists, however, have since returned from deployment, emphasising how much they enjoyed it, full of praise for the way in which they were welcomed on board.  It is evident that they have learned much from the regular force crews in their time away.

Furthermore, it has been an opportunity for many to deploy on ships other than the IPCs.  We have now sent ratings to HMNZ Ships ENDEVOUR, MANAWANUI, and RESOLUTION.

On the training side, things haven’t stood still either.  In addition to the drill training that is our staple diet, we have also undertaken training in height safety, RIB handling and damage control (on the occasion of any ship visit to Wellington), bomb disposal, law of armed conflict, bridge simulator time (see article), weapons handling, and much much more.  And that is without mentioning the training that individuals must do to progress through the ranks.

Finally, on the social side, OLPHERT is what you might call a “happy” division.  There have been barbecues, mess dinners, and many informal get-togethers that help ensure that camaraderie is maintained.  Recently, a group of around twenty travelled to Ohakune for a busy weekend of survival training, forward planning, and socialising.  The highlight for me was a guided tour of the Army Museum, which we would all thoroughly recommend to anyone passing through Waiouru.

I get a sense that there is real enthusiasm for the second half of the year.  Already, many of the training opportunities on regular force ships are oversubscribed with requests from OLPHERT personnel, which has to be a good sign.

So look out for us in the near future – we’re not just there for the ride."

- ENS Milkop

Naval Reserves team pose onboard for a photo.

Reserves posing for a quick photo.
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