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Naval engineers take on the Aussie Anzac experience

Three Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) officers are among the lucky few honing their trade aboard three Australian Anzac-class warships.

07 May, 2024

Sub Lieutenants Taylor Bell-Booth, Ben Sterritt and Aron Mago completed their introductory engineering course in Australia in HMAS Cerberus. Now, posted to frigates HMA Ships Perth, Stuart and Warramunga, they are completing their training as assistant marine engineering officers and have given the experience high praise.

“It is an incredible opportunity to work alongside New Zealand’s closest ally and ‘bigger brother’," Sub Lieutenant Sterritt said.

"To meet the people and learn from the way that the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) operates is an experience that I will be able to take back to New Zealand and share."

Sub Lieutenant Bell-Booth echoed Sub Lieutenant Sterritt, sharing the eagerness to pass on their experience to other RNZN officers.

“Being involved with the RAN has given me a diversity of experience and a deeper understanding of how the RAN operates," Sub Lieutenant Bell-Booth said.

"I can take this back to the RNZN and provide a better perspective when our navies work together."

Each officer has found it easy to work alongside his Australian shipmates, remarking on the similar cultures, lifestyles and perspectives on service they all share. There was the occasional hiccup, however.

“We share very similar lifestyles, although the only difference has been the Aussies getting used to my Kiwi accent,” Sub Lieutenant Mago said.

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Sub Lieutenants Ben Sterritt (left), Aron Mago (centre) and Taylor Bell-Booth (right)

The importance of the Anzac tradition is not lost on the officers, and neither is the significance of their time aboard an Anzac class frigate.

Each officer has already marked an Anzac Day alongside RAN members, and Sub Lieutenants Mago and Sterritt looked forward to the rare opportunity of marking it at sea.

“I looked forward to marking Anzac Day on board. It has been a very cool experience serving in an Anzac-class frigate with the Australians,” SLT Mago said.

Sub Lieutenant Bell-Booth participated in a dawn service and parade with his shipmates before taking time to share experiences and stories with other members and veterans – something close to his heart.

“My grandfather fought in Italy in the Second World War as a member of the 5th Field Artillery Regiment. He had some incredible stories. He passed away a couple of years before I joined the RNZN. He was a fantastic role model,” Sub Lieutenant Bell-Booth said.

“I am grateful every day that we serve under vastly different circumstances to those that he endured.”

Australia and New Zealand share a deep bond of military cooperation and friendship that is expressed through the exchange program.

While their experiences differ greatly, the Anzac spirit is alive and well with Australians and New Zealanders working together at sea, said Sub Lieutenant Skerritt.

“While not even close to comparable to our ancestors, I too have had a taste of the Anzac relationship in the armed services first-hand and it is something that will always stay with me. It is a privilege to be a part of and one that I will never forget.”