Kāpiti man Vance Bell likes to keep his options open when it comes to qualifications and career. He found the Royal New Zealand Navy gave him the varied career he craved.

Leading Marine Technician (Electrical) Bell, from Peka Peka on the Kāpiti Coast, joined the Navy in 2014, not long after finishing at Paraparaumu College. 

“For me, it was a mix of really enjoying being on the ocean when I was young and having a big sense of adventure. My dad was in the Air Force and the Defence Force had always been in the back of my mind.”

 He said he got his university acceptance and could have gone the traditional route. “But I decided it was time for an adventure. I can do university later. I’m only 24, there’s plenty of possibilities.”

A highlight of his career was assisting in the Kaikōura relief operation from HMNZS Canterbury following the earthquake in November 2016.

“That was really rewarding, being with my best mates, and helping people.” 

He really enjoys ship life, he said. “For me, it’s the people. If I didn’t have the people around me every single day, I wouldn’t be here. I like being part of a great team. When the work gets hard, everyone pulls together, and makes fond memories of it. The engineers are a really close bunch. And there’s so many different people on board, from so many walks of life, and you respect each other and learn to live together.”

A year into the Navy he seriously contemplated the option of commissioning as an officer and going to university. 

“But I choose not to for now. Staying on as a Marine Technician, you qualify as an electrician after a few years. I thought, if I get qualified, I will own my own business one day, and be in the trade for myself.”

LMT(L) Bell is posted to HMNZS Canterbury and is now working towards his Engineering Officer of the Watch qualifications. In his spare time he’s a surf lifesaver and finds time for endurance events, training and running in the Coast to Coast one-day race last year, completing it in 15 hours and 30 minutes. He’s also done the 100km Oxfam Trailwalker with friends.

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