Scots College Brass Band on board the California Maritime Academy training ship T.S. Golden Bear.

A visit in New Zealand waters of any type of US military ship is always a somewhat historic event. It has been over 20 years since the California Maritime Academy has been here. It had been bounced around for a few days the idea of me attending and photographing the formal reception with the US Ambassador David Huebner as well as Hon Christopher Finlayson, Attorney-General for New Zealand. There were a number of photographers already slated to be going. I was keen, given that I am a US Citizen and also had photographed a graduation of the California Maritime Academy in Vallejo in the past.

It transpired that in the final 30 minutes prior when I would have to prepare for the event, I got the call up. My role was to help out Scots College to document their brass band performing for guests arriving.

Scots College Brass Band ready to play on board the California Maritime Academy training ship T.S. Golden Bear.

One of the cool things I think when photographing students performing is looking for those little moments in between the actual playing. As soon as the music stops- I look for those expressions of relief and the joy of creating. When people are clapping and the song had gone well, it shows on the performers faces.

This students I feel exemplifies the expression I am talking about. He's stoked about his performance and is sharing it with a fellow student in a wonderful moment.

A cool thing the Maritime Academy did was to take the boys on a tour of the ship. It was a nice gesture, the boys were suitably impressed yet timid about asking questions. The Cadet who was conducting the tour was only a year or two older than the school students and seemed to have an amazing amount of confidence in knowledge and outlook.

At the bridge of the T.S. Golden Bear with the lights of Wellington visible through the windows.

The final part of the evening was the reception. It was held in the training center on board the ship where students are able to practice operating the ship in a range of harbours before they are required to navigate them for real. There was a simulation of the Golden Gate Harbour entrance on the screens during the evening which was cool to see. I have been through there before on-board a California Department of Fish and Game research vessel. It seemed very accurate to my memory of the entrance under the Golden Gate bridge.

Shellsea Stoughton, Kieran Brown. Reception aboard the California Maritime Academy training ship T.S. Golden Bear Wellington Harbour 30 May, 2011.

One of the greatest takeaways for me was seeing the Maritime Academy students coming and going from the ship on leave. They were all very respectful, well dressed young people who were going out much like other university students do- having dinner, going to cafes and to the movies. They were then coming back to their “home” which we were guests. A very cool atmosphere, and interesting to have such a visit back here in Wellington so far from where I was living in California, just down the road from the Academy in Vallejo…

To view more photos from the event, click here:

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