Napier Naval Officer Scales New Heights

21 June 2018

Jessica Bewick, 18, did not want a sedate, indoor job, which made climbing out on the spar of tall ship Spirit of New Zealand exactly what she wished for.

Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) Midshipman Bewick, from Napier, is near the end of her 22-week Junior Officer Training Course, which included five days this month aboard training ship Spirit of New Zealand in the Hauraki Gulf.

The 23 trainees go from the classroom to a real maritime experience on Spirit of New Zealand to refine their leadership skills and take on sea roles in a ship’s command chain.

Midshipman Bewick, who attended Sacred Heart College, will complete her officer training on 30 June with a formal march-out and graduation at Devonport.

The Navy had everything she wanted for a career, she said.

“It’s travel, adventure, learning, career progression – and a bit of a challenge.”

She is training to become a warfare officer, with the possibility of taking command of an RNZN ship.

“As a warfare officer you get a lot of opportunities to extend yourself, and possibly take charge of a very expensive asset.”

She has enjoyed her training, having come to it with no expectations.
“I was a blank slate when I came, and I’m so happy to be here. I’ve loved the training, especially the physical training. I’ve really enjoyed maritime strategy – I’ve got an essay due on that.”

Her parents were not sure about her career choice at first, she said.

“I did well at school, and they expected I would go to university. I did my research, and showed them the university opportunities and career progression I would have as a Navy officer.”

It was fantastic to get out on the water on Spirit of New Zealand, even if it meant a bit of sea sickness for everyone during the rough June weather, she said.

“It was pretty much all hands on deck, with waves breaking on the ship. I thought it was thrilling – I’m keen to do it again.”

Spirit of New Zealand master Nic Charrington, who has taken plenty of youngsters to sea, likes the Navy’s leadership style and camaraderie.

“You can see a bit of apprehension when they come on, but you could tell they were already a team,” he said.

This page was last reviewed on 7 February 2019.