Tongan  commander congratulated after assuming leading role at Australian navy

Family members and kāinga of Commander Rosemarie ‘Apikotoa have recenlty welcomed her successful career at the  Royal Australian Navy (RAN).  

Commander Rosemarie Apikotoa

It has been reported that Apikotoa is taking up a new commanding role at the Brisbane’s HAMAS Moreton warships.

The base is responsible for providing administrative support to RAN personnel and visiting warships.

‘Apikotoa began her career as a Maritime Warfare Officer, joining the Royal Australian Navy on the 20 Jan 1997 via Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) where she conducted Undergraduate and military studies.

She was graduated at the end of 1999 with a UNSW Bachelor of Arts Degree with a double Major in History and Geography and minor in Information Systems.

Since then, CMDR Apikotoa has served in various Warships (HMA Ships Anzac, Bunbury, Gladstone, Norman, Gascoyne, Sydney, Newcastle, Parramatta) being the first Officer of Polynesian descent to gain an Ocean Navigation Certificate and Bridge Warfare Certificate to drive Australian Warships at sea.

Highlights within her career include successfully circumnavigating Australia, patrolling Australian fisheries, mentoring female rugby players through Navy and ADF Rugby as well as deploying to the Middle East in Operation Catalyst Rotation 18 as the Deputy Operations Officer on-board ANZAC class frigate, HMAS Parramatta in 2008.

CMDR Apikotoa has been employed in the ADF’s Intelligence and Cyber Warfare domain for over a decade, the first position of which was Deputy Director Navy Intelligence Capability in 2011.

It was here that CMDR Apikotoa commenced part time study and graduated with a Master’s degree in Business from UNSW at the end of 2013. CMDR Apikotoa has played a significant role in building Navy’s Intelligence and Cyber Warfare Personnel capability.

For dedication shown in these duties, as well as long term (15 years) dedication to Navy rugby, CMDR Apikotoa was awarded a Gold Level Chief of Navy commendation. CMDR Apikotoa graduated from the Australian Command and Staff Course in December 2020 with a Masters in Defence Studies and Strategy from ANU.

Her kāinga and friends have welcome her achievements on Facebook.

“She is such a phenomenal spirit – I interviewed once a long while ago when she was given her first ship to command which required an overhaul”, wrote Tongan host of ABC’s  Pacific Mornings.

“She had to wait for ships to be manufactured which allowed for women sailors and officers to have utilities.

“We discussed her role as a Tongan woman and being an older sister with brothers and how that impacted her method of commanding and her specific leadership in commanding her own ship.

“It was such a fascinating discussion and also so stimulating. She grew up as a friend of my then producer.

“Some stories stay with you a very very long time. Such an insightful and brilliant heart full woman!

 I’m excited to see her celebrated here!”

“Wow. congratulations on your achievements and best wishes for your future” another wrote.

“Congratulations! We are all so proud”.

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