New Zealand Navy welcomes first female frigate commander

RNZN Commander Lisa Hunn poses for a photo in front of HMNZS Te Kaha on June 14. Photo: RNZN

Royal New Zealand Navy Commander Lisa Hunn became the first woman to assume command of a New Zealand Navy frigate, during a change of command ceremony for HMNZS Te Mana at Devonport Naval Base, on June 14.

The June 14 ceremony was one of five that took place in the RNZN in May and June.

This will be Hunn’s second command — she was the last officer in command of HMNZS Takapu before it was decommissioned. Commander Hunn joined the RNZN in 1990, serving on numerous ships between 1993 and 2007.

She was awarded the New Zealand General Service Medal for Maritime Interception Operations and was commended for her efforts as a Defence Liaison Officer during a state visit by China in 1999. As the principal warfare officer on HMNZS Te Kaha, then operations officer, she was awarded a second New Zealand General Service Medal for her work during Operation Enduring Freedom in the Gulf of Oman.

She has been the executive officer on HMNZS Te Mana and at HMNZS Philomel (Devonport Naval Base), chairwoman of the RNZN Women’s Steering Group and director of Naval Safety, and was chief of staff for a combined task force during Exercise Rim of the Pacific in Hawaii. Commander Hunn takes over from Commander Simon Griffiths.

In another first on June 6, Lieutenant Commander Lorna Gray became the first female commanding officer of an offshore patrol vessel assuming command of HMNZS Otago from Lieutenant Commander Andrew Sorensen.

Gray joined the RNZN in 2005 as a warfare officer, and has previously served on HMNZS Otago as a junior officer. She has been on numerous warfare courses in New Zealand and Australia, completing an exchange with the Royal Australian Navy as the principal warfare officer on a frigate before returning to New Zealand as a staff officer last year.