22 May 2017
There will be five changes of command, including two women commanding officers, in the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) in May and June.
Taking command of a ship or shore establishment is the pinnacle of an officer’s Navy career so to mark this, formal change of command ceremonies will take place at Devonport Naval Base in Auckland. The ceremonies occur between 23 May and 26 June for frigate HMNZS Te Mana, offshore patrol vessels HMNZS Wellington and HMNZS Otago, multi-role vessel HMNZS Canterbury and the shore-based Littoral Warfare Unit.
The new commanders are:
Commander Robert Ochtman-Corfe – Littoral Warfare Unit – 23 May
Commander Robert Ochtman-Corfe, from Canterbury, joined the RNZN as an engineer in 1992, and has undertaken a variety of engineering and logistics roles, at sea and ashore, including service on HMNZ ships Waikato, Canterbury and Te Mana, the latter as Marine Engineering Officer. He has undertaken deployments in Bougainville and the Persian Gulf. He holds a Masters in Science from Portsmouth University and is a Chartered Engineer. Before taking this command he worked in project management for the RNZN’s fleet seaworthiness projects. Commander Ochtman-Corfe will take over command of the Littoral Warfare Unit from Commander Matt Wray.
Lieutenant Commander Lorna Gray – Offshore Patrol Vessel HMNZS Otago – 6 June
Lieutenant Commander Lorna Gray, the first female commanding officer of an offshore patrol vessel, is from Otago, growing up on the Taieri Plains. She joined the RNZN in 2005 as a warfare officer, and has previously served on HMNZS Otago as a junior officer. She has been on numerous warfare courses in New Zealand and Australia, completing an exchange with the Royal Australian Navy as the principal warfare officer on a frigate before returning to New Zealand as a staff officer last year. She will take over from Lieutenant Commander Andrew Sorensen.
Commander Lisa Hunn – Frigate HMNZS Te Mana – 14 June
Commander Lisa Hunn, who will be the first female commanding officer of an RNZN frigate, is originally from Wellington and is now based in St Heliers in Auckland. This will be her second command – she was the last officer in command of HMNZS Takapu before it was decommissioned. Commander Hunn joined the RNZN in 1990, serving on numerous ships between 1993 and 2007. She was awarded the New Zealand General Service Medal for Maritime Interception Operations and was commended for her efforts as a Defence Liaison Officer during a state visit by China in 1999. As the principal warfare officer on HMNZS Te Kaha, then operations officer, she was awarded a second New Zealand General Service Medal for her work during Operation Enduring Freedom in the Gulf of Oman. She has been the executive officer on HMNZS Te Mana and at HMNZS Philomel (Devonport Naval Base), chairwoman of the RNZN Women’s Steering Group and director of Naval Safety, and was chief of staff for a combined task force during Exercise Rim of the Pacific in Hawaii. Commander Hunn takes over from Commander Simon Griffiths.
Lieutenant Commander Damian Gibbs – Offshore Patrol Vessel HMNZS Wellington – 22 June
Lieutenant Commander Damian Gibbs grew up in Tauranga, Kapiti and Whangarei with a keen interest in most things maritime. In 2004 he was selected for the RNZN as a warfare officer. He has served on HMNZS ships Kiwi, Resolution and Te Kaha to obtain advanced warfare qualifications. Remaining on Te Kaha, he completed two Southeast Asian deployments, then joined HMNZS Manawanui as navigating officer. He was executive officer of HMNZS Hawea, navigating officer of HMNZS Canterbury, and commanding officer of HMNZS Taupo, his first command. In 2016 he was posted to the Battle Staff for the New Zealand-led amphibious task group in Exercise Rim of the Pacific in Hawaii. Lieutenant Commander Gibbs will take over from Lieutenant Commander Matt Kaio.
Commander Matt Wray – Multi-Role Vessel HMNZS Canterbury – 26 June
Commander Matt Wray joined the RNZN as an ordinary seaman in 1984, specialising in the hydrographic trade. He spent the next 12 years at sea, commissioning as an officer in 1997 and posting to survey ship HMNZS Resolution. He became the commissioning executive officer in HMNZS Canterbury, and later was the last commanding officer of HMNZS Resolution, which decommissioned in 2012. He assumed command of the Littoral Warfare Unit in 2016. Commander Wray has been a United Nations Military Observer in East Timor and spent 13 months as a Field Liaison Officer in the Sinai. He takes over command of HMNZS Canterbury from Commander Simon Rooke.