DT News: Cdr Eelhart tells us more about the HMCS Ville de Québec sequestration as per COVID-19 health and safety measures

Video / May 31, 2020


(Shelley) Before heading out to sea to support any possible tasking in response to COVID-19, the crew onboard HMCS Ville de Quebec had to sequester ashore for fourteen days, as per health and safety measures, to ensure the entire ship’s company was free of the virus.

Today we’re joined by Commanding Officer of the ship, Commander Michael Eelhart for more on their sequestration and being ready to respond when needed.

Hi, Sir. Thanks for being with us today. What were the biggest challenges during the sequestration?

(Cdr Eelhart) So the biggest challenges for that sequestration period was to maintain the mental preparedness for the ships company. Basically, forcing people to live all by themselves in a small room is actually very hard. That was the biggest challenge. To mitigate those types of things and enabled that everyone had to be phoned every day, often by video, so we could get a feel for that they were mentally okay. And just give them that type of human interaction. We also enabled them and encouraged them to connect with their families as much as possible by video or by phone and at the same time we encouraged them to conduct a daily routine that enabled them to get through each day.

Routine is the bedrock we always move to and it enabled people to positively move though each day.

(S) Where is the crew now and what will their duties be if they’re called on to provide any support?

(Cdr Eelhart) So the entire crew that sequestered in the hotel are now embarked on the ship. So we’are all in the ship. We’re currently off the coast of Nova Scotia, conducting operations, trying to engage with Canadians the best we can, remotely, without actually physically touching them. And we continue that engagement period, basically saying we’re ready to help if required for any federal or government request for assistance and we remain capable and ready as a ready-duty ship for that type of activity.

(S) With the efforts underway, what does a day look like now, compared to before?

(Cdr Eelhart) Where the big differences come is when we need to get fuel or other supplies and food. We have to do those as carefully as possible. We have minimal interaction with the people actually refueling the ship and when we go alongside all the supplies and stuff they need to have been put away for at least 3 days beforehand so when we embark them we know that it’s COVID-free. At the same time, as normally we would be able to explore the city we’re in, but right now because we’re totally clean we’ve kind of forced ourselves to hang out only on the ship or on the jetty itself. We’re making the most of it, but those are the big differences.

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