5 year old mad on the navy

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Most five year-old girls get excited at the thought of dolls and dress ups. For Billie Edgley, it was the anticipation of climbing aboard a navy ship that had her so excited she couldn’t sleep.

The HMNZS Taupo was docked in Nelson’s coastal berth over the weekend, and although the vessel wasn’t open to the public, the bright eyed youngster was able to get a VIP tour of the captain’s cabin, sleeping quarters and engine room.

The tour was organised by Jo Dixon, a navy recruitment officer, after young Billie had showed interest in the navy. “Every time I see her she just gets so excited, it’s great to see that sort of enthusiasm,” says Jo.

Billie’s mother says the passion developed through Billie’s father’s involvement in the army. Billie and her father began watching Sea Patrol together, and since then the little girl’s interest has continued to grow. “She has posters and other navy stuff all around her room, Jo can get them for her. It’s such a great thing for her to be interested in, it’s a very healthy interest. It just offers such great role models for her,” says Gemmah Edgley.

The HMNZS Taupo doesn’t often berth in Nelson, as Nelson is the home port of an identical Lake-class patrol vessel, the HMNZS Pukaki.

This class of vessel’s primary role is to undertake maritime security missions around New Zealand and into the southwest Pacific, working with government agencies.

Gemmah says if anything the tour will have increased Billie’s obsession with the navy. Billie says she wants to be in the navy when she is old enough, with a goal to work as a “computer girl”.

Naval vessels are open for public tours on occasion, with the HMSNZ Pukaki docking in Nelson around once a year for public viewing.