Whanganui Engineer Powers New Zealand’s Combat Force in Hawaii

17 July 2018

When Whanganui man William Kerse joined the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) in 2011, he wanted travel and trade certification.

As a Leading Marine Technician (Propulsion) assigned to the Anzac frigates, he has seen the world and helped keep our combat ships in top condition. He is currently on HMNZS Te Mana, involved in the world’s largest naval exercise, Rimpac, in Hawaii.

As a teenager, he was inspired during a Careers Day at Whanganui High School when he talked to a Marine Technician.

“I like mechanical things – taking things apart and rebuilding them,” he said. “Being a Marine Technician provides a good base of knowledge and experience as a technician.”

His family liked the idea of him joining the RNZN, he said.

“They saw it gave me direction and provided good qualifications.”

Adjusting to Navy life was easy because he did not know anything different, he said.

“Doing trade training and professional courses just flow once you know how the Navy teaches. Practical skills are picked up by doing the course and on the job.”

On HMNZS Te Mana, Leading Marine Technician Kerse is part of the propulsion team on the ship, dealing with the diesel engines, gas turbine engine and reverse osmosis plants.

“There is a lot of variety. It’s never ‘another day at work’. I deal with different systems and different things every day. I also quite enjoy the watch-keeping – you pick up a lot of plant knowledge through keeping watches. I’ve worked on three ships so far.”

Working on an Anzac frigate was hard but very rewarding, he said.

“The size and scale of what I am doing is much bigger than you first expect. I have worked on changing heads of propulsion diesel engines and inspecting starter motors on the gas turbine. I do a lot of machining as well – there is just so much knowledge to be gained.

“It’s a great culture too. The trade really takes care of you and helps you through the hard times. It’s very team-oriented and you get very tight with other engineers.”

This page was last reviewed on 7 February 2019.