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June 2013 - HMNZS HAWEA preparing for duty

OSEA Freeman by the bridge door HAWEA


The confirmation that I had a posting with HMNZS HAWEA for two weeks came with a mixture of excitement and trepidation.  All my Reservist training within the Seaman Branch at HMNZS NGAPONA had taken place mainly ashore with my usual familiar oppos. How would it be mixing it with the full timers—the Pros?

HAWEA is currently in her regeneration period having been in a state of reduced availability for about 14 months. The intention is to have her ready for sea trials in June. As Commanding Officer LT Grant Bicknell would remind us at our morning meetings,  “progress is going well. We are on course and our maintenance targets are being met.”

Photo right: OSEA Marcus Freeman, bridge door HAWEA.

It is a busy time working her up for duty. The technical branches have their work cut out for them. The stokers were busy checking all manner of moving parts and temperature settings while the sparkies were busy chasing alarms and making all the important electrical things work—game consoles are in brilliant shape! As for the Seaman Branch, part of our task is to check critical items such as life rings and life jackets. All branches where busy wrestling with the FMMS system to update and verify. She is getting the thorough going over she deserves before retuning to active duty.

An unexpected task came up at Devonport when HMNZS MANAWANUI returned from her mission to recover evidence from the light plane crash off Kawhia. HMNZS ROTOITI needed to slip to make the wharf crane available for the transfer of evidence ashore. This required a 'cold move' and with the help of Auckland harbour tugs, we moved to a birth close by. This felt a little spooky, like being adrift without the usual sound and vibration of running engines.  As a novice seaman this was all very exciting.  Also thanks to ROTOITI for including our crew in their lunch routine with good kai close by.
For me working as a Seaman on a berthed platform involved the ship husbandry task of chipping and painting. Weather was mostly good and great progress was made. Thanks again to ROTOITI for help with this. HAWEA is looking every bit the New Zealand Naval vessel we have all come to expect.

The last significant event during my period with HAWEA was being involved in pivoting the ship by the bow from the wharf, with the aid of a tug, to check the operational performance of both port and starboard Rhib davits. Again very exciting for a novice. Both davits performed as expected when launching and retrieving with just one hitch engaging the emergency release port side needing further remediation. As a future seaman operating this gear, it is very reassuring to see the level of attention paid to returning these systems to a safe and reliable standard.

Also lucky to spend some time with HMNZS TAUPO. Very cool to be a part of a Damage Control exercise (ouch) on board and see some of the fire and rescue drills played out on a specific platform. I was with TAUPO when Oscar fell overboard (again) so it was time to demonstrate that, yes Rockies can swim. Water was beautiful. I admonished Oscar about his habit of falling overboard. He listened quietly but I have a feeling he's going to jump again. Ah well, someone else's turn to rescue him next time. Thanks to the respective Crews and Commanders for all the wonderful experiences.

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