ROTOITI's Commanding Officer receives Distinguished Service Decoration
Lieutenant Layamon Bakewell, Commanding Officer of Lake-class patrol vessel ROTOITI, received the New Zealand Distinguished Service Decoration in the Queen’s Birthday honours, which this year also marked the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s accession to the throne.
Lt Bakewell played a key role in the evacuation of the crew of container ship RENA on 11 October 2011. Stormy weather overnight sparked fears that the 47,000-tonne ship, which ploughed into Astrolabe reef off Tauranga six days earlier, might fracture and ROTOITI was dispatched to evacuate the crew and salvors on board as a precautionary measure.
Northeasterly winds gusting at 20 knots and swells of up to five metres ruled out a boat transfer so an Iroquois helicopter was called in at 0805. However, after 14 of the 38 people on board were plucked to safety, the air rescue had to be aborted due to poor visibility.
By this time, heavy swells threatened RENA’s precarious perch atop the reef, leaving it listing around five degrees to starboard. Oil released from a rupture to one of RENA’s main fuel tanks coated the waters. When the mayday call came at 0930, ROTOITI, TAUPO and ENDEAVOUR quickly dispatched five rigid hull inflatable boats alongside RENA’s port beam. With the containers looking menacingly close to toppling over, Navy sailors battled rough seas to complete, within an hour, an extremely risky operation to rescue the remaining crew on board.
Lieutenant Layamon Bakewell, Commanding Officer of HMNZS ROTOITI
Five other New Zealand Defence Force personnel were recognised in the Queen’s Birthday and Diamond Jubilee Honours 2012. Colonel Hugh Gourlay Trengrove of the New Zealand Army was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit. Squadron Leader Aaron Douglas Benton of the Royal New Zealand Air Force, Major David Bruce Ackroyd and Warrant Officer Class One Christopher James Wilson of the Royal New Zealand Army Logistic Regiment, and Lieutenant Colonel Hugh Richard McAslan of the Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment received the New Zealand Distinguished Service Decoration.
Colonel Trengrove coordinated the disaster victim identification efforts following the 22 February 2011 earthquake in Christchurch though he was due to retire on the day disaster struck. He also helped disaster victim identification teams in Thailand following the tsunami in December 2004, which killed an estimated 220,000 people.
An experienced P-3K Orion instructor pilot, Squadron Leader Benton led the medical evacuation of an American working at McMurdo Station in Antarctica in September 2010 amid harsh weather conditions.
Major Ackroyd has been deployed twice as logistics advisor to Timor Leste – first in 2004/05 and then in 2010/11. During these deployments, he trained, advised and mentored Timor-Leste officers in the tactical and operational aspects of military logistics. His efforts have been credited for helping members of the Timor-Leste Defence Force to improve their skills in logistics management.
As Patrol Liaison Officer in Afghanistan from April to October 2010, Warrant Officer Class One Wilson established a network of relationships with both local government representatives and community leaders in the Kahmard and Sayghan districts of Bamyan province. After his patrol commander was killed in an ambush on 3 August 2010, Warrant Officer Wilson took immediate command of the patrol, won the ensuing firefight and adopted a defensive position until the arrival of a support force.
Lt Col McAslan served as the senior military advisor with the New Zealand Provincial Reconstruction Team in Afghanistan for six months to September 2011. He adopted tactics that allowed the Provincial Reconstruction Team to maintain a greater presence and level of security in the northeastern district of Bamyan without incurring any casualties on two separate insurgent attacks. He also initiated a plan to provide the Bamyan provincial government with the means and resources to maintain security after New Zealand forces leave the province. The plan he developed has become the blueprint for how New Zealand will meet the considerable challenges associated with the transition process.