Midshipman Alana Wills has been deployed to Fiji on HMNZS Hawea as it helps patrol the South Pacific country’s territorial seas and Exclusive Economic Zone over the next six months
24 April 2017
Alana Wills was 11 when two careers advisors from the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) came to Dargaville Intermediate School, on the west coast of Northland, to talk about life in the military.
“They spoke about life in the Defence Force, which I thought was different and exciting. It stuck in my head and in my second-to-last year in high school I decided to join the Navy,” said Midshipman Wills, who is now a Warfare Officer on the Navy inshore patrol vessel HMNZS Hawea.
The Hawea left Auckland today for Fiji, where it will help patrol the South Pacific country’s territorial seas and Exclusive Economic Zone over the next six months. Staff from New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries, Fiji’s Department of Fisheries and the Fijian Navy will also join the patrols.
As Officer of the Watch, Midshipman Wills will help ensure the safe navigation of the ship.
“Our deployment to Fiji is the first time I’m going on an operation overseas and I’m so excited,” she said.
“It’s going to be an awesome learning opportunity for me. I’m undertaking a navigation course later this year and the operations we will be conducting in Fiji, such as manoeuvring the ship and launching our sea boats, will help me gain practical learning experience.”
Midshipman Wills said for training purposes the ship would be conducting celestial navigation for part of the 2590-kilometre journey to Fiji.
“I had not travelled outside the country before I joined the Navy in July 2015. But since then I’ve had lots of opportunities to travel and learn, without having to incur thousands of dollars in student debt,” she said.
On her first trip overseas, in June last year, Midshipman Wills sailed on HMNZS Te Kaha, when the Navy frigate participated in Exercise Rim of the Pacific in Hawaii.
This was followed by a four-month exchange on the Chilean Navy’s training ship Esmeralda, when it travelled from Southeast Asia to South America.
“I tried to learn how they do things, learn the language and make connections during my exchange. It was a great networking experience,” Midshipman Wills said.