A hands-on experience onboard HMCS St John’s

December 13, 2019 - Defence Stories

Author: Marie-France Lebeau - 2019 CLaS Alumni

With 2019 coming to a close, I want to share a work-related highlight during this past year, one that I was encouraged to write about — my participation in the Royal Canadian Navy Canadian Leaders at Sea (CLaS) outreach program. Designed specifically for Defence Team civilians like me, the program’s primary goal is to increase awareness of the Canadian Armed Forces, and to understand the tasks and skills required of our sailors during a deployment at sea. As part of the CLaS program, I had the privilege to travel onboard HMCS St John’s on its voyage from Halifax to Montreal with Commander Sproule and his crew in October 2019.

In just four days, I had the opportunity to observe, discuss and engage in a myriad of activities with our navy serving members. I was challenged outside of my comfort zone with climbing ladders, walking through the ship at night, handling firearms, cutting steel, learning how to fix a leaking pipe, and much more. It was fascinating to watch the sailors’ strength, resiliency and leadership skills conducting training exercises such as lifesaving man overboard, fire drills, healthcare emergencies and preparing for threats. I was also very impressed with the day-to-day logistical tasks and operations.

I feel deep gratitude for how respectfully I was treated during my journey onboard HMCS St John’s. Members shared their personal stories openly and I experienced the camaraderie between them on the ship. I loved the food, enjoyed the 10:00 soup, and doing physical training sessions on the flight deck was so much fun! Not to mention the moments on the bridge staring at the water, the stars or watching the rising of the sun and the moon.

I want to personally thank the Royal Canadian Navy Strategic Outreach Team and HMCS St John’s Commanding Officer and his crew for this unique and memorable experience. Best wishes for this holiday season. Armed with my new understanding and knowledge of our Royal Canadian Navy, I hope to continue serving those who serve us.

See you in 2020 maybe on board HMCS Harry DeWolf, or at another CLaS Alumni reunion!

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