4 September 2012
Postcard from Hawaii
by Senior Naval Stores Accountant Petty Officer Ben Owens
Aloha friends and family! As I write this, the mighty battle tanker HMNZS ENDEAVOUR is steaming around the Hawaiian islands as one of the 40 ships and submarines taking part in exercise Rim of the Pacific 2012 (RIMPAC). We sailed from Devonport Naval Base in June, leaving behind a New Zealand winter and eager for some sun and sand in Hawaii.
After a 21-day passage, we finally arrived in Hawaii. Morale was high among the ship’s crew. Everyone was excited to get ashore to look around. We spent part of the time alongside making preparations for RIMPAC, which is the world’s largest international maritime exercise. The build-up excited everyone and understandably so. Majority of the crew were not born yet the last time a New Zealand ship took part in RIMPAC in 1984. Some of the personal highlights from my time ashore were visiting Pearl Harbour, getting a guided tour of “Mighty Mo”, as USS MISSOURI is fondly called, and visiting the Arizona Memorial. After an exhausting 17 days alongside, I was glad when we let go of all lines and proceeded to sea for the exercise. Within the first two days, we had been refuelled by one of the massive tankers of the United States Navy.
It was interesting to see how other navies operate. Other navies do some things better than us; likewise, we do other things better than them. Throughout the exercise, we learnt a lot from each other.
Every ship got into the RIMPAC spirit. Most of the American ships we refuelled had their own respective mascots. There were dancing dragons, bulls and tigers. The ships we refueled always sent baskets of freshly baked cookies as a way of saying "thank you" and, fortunately, only once did these get dunked in the oggy (sea).
During this exercise, our crew have been put through their paces. In one instance, we refuelled two ships simultaneously, with TE KAHA receiving fuel on our starboard side and a Korean ship receiving fuel from our port side. Whilst this was happening, a Chilean helicopter delivered stores onto our flight deck as well as onto an American ship nearby, which was also waiting to be refuelled. This was a massive ship evolution and on completion, we all knew we had accomplished something pretty special and could be proud of our efforts.