Courageous sailor wins top Navy award

20120125_PH_T1015674_0004 Official Portrait of Leading Chef Brock West

When a fellow shipmate was injured during the Navy’s response to the MV RENA emergency, Leading Chef Brock West showed exceptional courage and commitment.

Those actions, and his dedication over 2011 to learn new skills outside those required of his job, have seen Leading Chef West awarded the prestigious RNZN Sailor of the Year prize.

On 11 October 2011 HMNZS ROTOITI evacuated 21 people off the MV RENA in response to a Mayday call from the Salvage Master.

Leading Chef West was the Bowman in one of ROTOITI’s Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIBs) during the evacuation. As the crew of the RENA were descending the pilot ladder, one of the RENA crew fell approximately five meters, landing on top of a sailor in another RHIB.

Leading Chef West reacted immediately, jumping from his boat into the other RHIB to provide first aid. He kept the casualty safe, calm, and reassured whilst this RHIB returned to the Ship. He then stepped up and acted as bowman as the RHIB was recovered.

Leading Chef West took charge of this incident from the outset and demonstrated exceptional, knowledge, skill, and confidence throughout.

"It was pretty much all instincts. When I jumped into the other boat with the casualty, the training just took over," he said from sea where he is busy exercising with the Australian Navy.

"I felt pretty proud the day of the rescue that I could put all that training to use."

The RNZN Sailor of the Year (SOTY) is a prestigious award made only to the most outstanding and deserving candidates. The aim of the award is to recognise and foster excellence at the Junior Rating level. The award to Leading Chef West recognised his actions, and also his commitment to learning jobs outside that of being a Chef. He is now trained in RHIB driving and bowman duties, he has also learned intricate seamanship skills, meaning he is extremely valuable in whole ship activities such as when the ship is berthing or sailing.

Leading Chef West was formally awarded the Sailor of the Year Badge and Citation recently by the Mayor of Auckland City, Len Brown. The occasion was witnessed by over 700 members of the Navy, his parents, step mother and younger brother.

"I joined the Navy in 2006 to get good skills and to see the world and I definitely haven’t been disappointed. Winning the award is a highlight though. It is a great honour to be recognised for the effort and work I put in."

The next challenge for Leading Chef West will be deploying on the frigate HMNZS TE KAHA.


For more information please contact Lieutenant Commander Angela Barker, Senior Communications and Media Advisor – Navy on 021 244 0638

This page was last reviewed on 15 March 2012.