Naval officer still has his land legs

The Bone family, Amelia, Thea, then 7, Stephen, then 5, and Chris enjoy a family day for staff...
The Bone family, Amelia, Thea, then 7, Stephen, then 5, and Chris enjoy a family day for staff members hosted by the Royal New Zealand Navy on HMNZS Te Mana in the Hauraki Gulf in 2023. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
It is fortunate former St Peter’s College pupil, Chris Bone does not get seasick.

For the past 22 years Lieutenant-commander Bone has been a member of the Royal New Zealand Navy.

He did not know why he had never been seasick, Lt-Cdr Bone said.

"I’m pretty lucky."

Lots of people in the navy did get seasick.

"Even people who have been in the navy 30 to 40 years still get seasick."

He did feel a little queasy once when the ship he was on was struggling to make its way down the coast from Wellington to Christchurch after the Kaikoura earthquake.

"It was pretty rough."

In his final year of school he applied for officer training so he could complete an engineering degree as part of the training.

When he did not get accepted for that he followed the advice of the recruiting officer who suggested he enter the navy as a marine technician and then apply again for officer training.

"That sounded like a better option than going to university and coming out with a 50-grand loan."

He spent three and a-half years learning about how to operate and maintain equipment on a ship.

"It was really interesting to learn everything about engines, air conditioning plants and sewerage plants and all the things we need to live at sea and learn the basics of how to maintain them."

Three and a-half years later he applied again for a commission to be an officer and was successful.

He took part in six months of officer training and then started an engineering degree at the University of Auckland.

He was still required to do some naval duties while studying.

"No student loan and on a salary at the same time."

He finished his degree in 2011.

He said he enjoyed his career.

"I really love it.

"It’s definitely more than just a job.

"To stick around for this long definitely there has to be something that keeps me in more than just a pay cheque."

It was the people who he worked with that made the job enjoyable.

"The camaraderie is really excellent."

While each person had a different role, they also had some understanding of other roles.

"It’s easier to work as one unit."

He is based in the Devonport naval base office but for about 11 years he has been posted to a ship.

"When we’re attached to a ship we should expect to spend anywhere between four and six months away from Devonport."

Sometimes that was not continuous time away but spread over several stints.

He was posted to HMS Illustrious, an older British aircraft carrier, as part of a training course in the United Kingdom.

He can remember sailing up the Thames and going through the gates on the river, that were about 40m apart and could be closed in times of flooding.

"There was not much room."

One of his most memorable experiences was being part of the sail-past for the 2015 centenary commemoration of the landing at Gallipoli.

"There was probably about 20 ships in total from different nations and ... we sailed past nice and slow past the cove while the centenary service went on."

"As dawn broke we got to see the confronting cliffs and hills that all the troops had to assault."

In 2021 wife Amelia, and children Thea and Stephen spent time in Canada while Lt-Cdr Bone was part of a team involved in upgrading the equipment on a frigate.

This year Lt-Cdr Bone attended the Gore Anzac dawn service for the first time in 19 years and spoke at the Gore and Districts Memorial RSA breakfast afterwards.