The RNZN is constructing a new seamanship training facility at Devonport. The first ship modules for the facility arrived at Devonport Naval Base in the early hours of 9 September to be installed in the new building now well under construction near the Stanley Bay gate. The modules—making up a full-size Inshore Patrol Vessel forecastle—were brought by heavy trucks from the Wiri factory where they were built, over the Auckland Harbour Bridge and then to Devonport in the early hours of the morning, to avoid disrupting other traffic. STR5As well as the IPV forecastle, the project includes a full-size Offshore Patrol Vessel midships, an OPV quarterdeck sized to an IPV dimension and a Replenishment At Sea (RAS) tower. All will be housed in the new building. Sailors will be able to train in safe seamanship on the modules rather than initially in ships at sea, thus improving training and freeing ships for sea duties. The Royal Australian Navy has a similar facility.

The facility is one part of the Navy’s Reclaiming Seamanship Excellence (RSE) programme, designed to deliver excellence in seamanship through a well-trained and supported Seaman Combat Specialist Branch, complemented by a well-prepared wider Navy. The programme stems from a review of core seamanship skills following the death of AHSO Byron Solomon in the CANTERBURY rigid hull inflatable boat accident in 2007. The review led to the 2010 establishment of the RSE programme, aiming to re-focus the Navy on the core skills of seamanship. The review highlighted that the transition to today’s more versatile fleet, along with the reduced manning requirements of our Protector ships, increased the complexity of tasks at sea. Since 2010 there has been some major progress in the training of our people, particularly the introduction of a Sea Qualifying Seamanship Course as part of Basic Mariner Training. All new recruits now undergo a two-week course covering the basics of seamanship evolutions (part of ship work, berthing, slipping, towing, height safety, boat work and Bosun’s Mate roles).

STF2As a Navy, the very platforms we undertake our work on means seamanship is an inherent  art of our daily lives, particularly given the versatile fleet we now operate with. Launching a sea boat, berthing a ship and conducting replenishment at sea are no longer the domain of just the seamanship trades, as we see the likes of chefs, stewards, writers, weapons and electrical technicians all playing a part in these core, sometimes daily seamanship tasks. The first course of Sea Qualifying Seamanship using the new facility is expected to take place in April 2015.


The new Seamanship Training Aids facility at Devonport Naval Base requires a name. The importance of this facility cannot be understated as it will provide safer, more competent sailors to our ships and reduce the On Job Training component of seamanship training at sea. So what shall we name it? Well that’s where you come in. Here are the rules:

  • All entries must include a small commentary (300 words or less) on how you came up with the name and why you think it works for this Facility.
  • Entries are to be submitted via e-mail to with the subject line “STA Naming Competition”.
  • Entries close at 1600 Friday 5 December 2014.

A multi rank and trade judging panel will evaluate the entries for CN’s final endorsement, with the winner being announced on Wednesday 10 December 2014. Time to get creative!!!!


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