June 29, 2020 – Auckland man Luther Paniora-Prescott joined the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) to see the world and next year he will get to see it on board the RNZN’s biggest-ever ship.
Able Seaman Combat Specialist Paniora-Prescott will be part of the inaugural crew of Aotearoa, a 173-metre-long sustainment vessel that boasts state-of-the-art design and capability features.
Aotearoa completed her sea trials off South Korea recently and arrived in New Zealand last week, after a 16-day journey. She will be formally commissioned at the Devonport Naval Base in late July and Able Seaman Combat Specialist Paniora-Prescott can’t wait to get on board.
“I am looking forward to the experience of being able to set up the new ship and seeing what its capabilities are,” he said.
Able Seaman Combat Specialist Paniora-Prescott, who grew up in Te Atatu and went to Rutherford College, has the military in his blood, with other family members serving in the RNZN and the New Zealand Army.
He joined the RNZN in 2014 for the opportunity to travel and the promise of adventure.
After Basic Training he has specialised as an Able Seaman Combat Specialist and has never regretted his decision to join.
“At the moment I am helping train recruits. Every day is different and you get to see some amazing places,” he said.
In recent years he has been deployed on Exercise Bersama Lima, a military exercise held each year involving forces from Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, and the United Kingdom, as well as exercises around Australia.
However, the highlight of his career so far has been five months travelling around Australia and South East Asia on HMNZS Endeavour, conducting peacekeeping operations and training.
His next deployment will be on Aotearoa, and it can’t come soon enough.
For the Commanding Officer of Aotearoa, Captain Simon Rooke, it’s all hands on deck as the ship gets nearer to being commissioned.
“I’m delighted with the caliber of officers and sailors we have and I know how proud they all are to be posted to Aotearoa,” Captain Rooke said. “There’s something very special about being a crew member of not only a brand new Navy ship but the biggest one we’ve ever had in our fleet.”
Aotearoa will assist the New Zealand Defence Force’s Southern Ocean monitoring. The ship’s enhanced “winterisation” capabilities, such as ice-strengthening, will allow it to undertake operations in Antarctica, including resupplying McMurdo Station and Scott Base.
Aotearoa has a world-first naval “Environship” design, which incorporates a new wave-piercing hull form that reduces resistance and lowers fuel consumption, while its combined diesel-electric and diesel propulsion plant has lower exhaust emissions than older ships.