No one was more surprised to be judged the winner of the Royal New Zealand Navy’s (RNZN) badge competition for its newest and largest ship, HMNZS Aotearoa, than Steven Knight, a Chief Petty Officer with the RNZN. Click HERE for the video.
“I was stoked just to be selected in the top 10 to be honest,” Chief Petty Officer Knight said after being given the news of his win by the Chief of Navy, Rear Admiral John Martin. “I just tried to produce something that contained all the elements that were important for a Navy ship that carried the name of our country.
“I’ve always had an interest in art, right back to my school days. And in my spare time I pull out my sketch book — a lot of my designs have a naval influence.”
The sheer number and quality of entries for the new ship, which will be commissioned into service in early 2020, were the things that impressed Rear Admiral Martin.
“It was wonderful that so many New Zealanders cared so much about our new ship that they wanted to submit a design,” he said.
The RNZN Ships’, Names and Badges Committee convened to review the more than 250 designs received. They had no details of the designers so their selection was impartial. The panel reduced the submissions to a top 10, which were given to the Chief of Navy in December to make the final decision.
“My design criteria were very clear,” Rear Admiral Martin said. “I asked for designs that were simple yet striking, reflective of the role of the ship and uniquely New Zealand.
“While I had no idea who submitted the designs, Steven’s immediately stood out. The fish hook elegantly blended the Maori legend of Aotearoa’s origin with the replenishment role that the ship will be responsible for.
“Dividing the sea and sky, I saw the white band representing both a long white cloud and an ice shelf — very appropriate given the importance of the Southern Ocean and Antarctica to New Zealand.”
For a number of reasons, the winning design was an obvious choice for him, Rear Admiral Martin said.
“I was surprised and proud that the winner was one of Navy’s own and I’m thrilled for him.”
Chief Petty Officer Knight’s winning badge design will form the basis of the formal ship badge.
When HMNZS Aotearoa is commissioned in early 2020 it will not only be the new maritime sustainment vessel and fleet tanker but will also enhance combat operational capability, provide humanitarian aid and disaster relief and support monitoring operations in the Southern Ocean.
“I know New Zealanders will be as proud of her as the whole of the New Zealand Defence Force will be when she arrives,” Rear Admiral Martin said.
Chief Petty Officer Knight works at the Devonport Naval Base as Project Manager responsible for the Inshore Patrol Vessels upkeep and maintenance.