HMCS Calgary officer tackles “board” with success

SLt Jason Wychopen takes a bearing from the bridge of HMCS Calgary during Directed Ship Readiness Training.

SLt Jason Wychopen takes a bearing from the bridge of HMCS Calgary during Directed Ship Readiness Training.

 

SLt Greg Menzies, HMCS Calgary PAO ~

It’s not every day a Naval Warfare Officer can complete the Naval Officer Professional Qualification (NOPQ) while at sea.

In fact, on the west coast it’s quite rare, and that’s why is was a big deal for Sub-Lieutenant Jason Wychopen.

The NOPQ board is a test where a Naval Warfare Officer is ‘boarded’ before several senior naval officers that specialize in all aspects of operating a warship.

They become eligible to challenge the board after completing an NOPQ package that contains hundreds of prerequisite signatures that ensure they are proficient in all inner workings of a warship. This process typically takes two years. Once they have completed the package and are nominated by their captain, a Naval Warfare Officer is given notice they will be boarded. Preparation is usually a few weeks of studying material to better prepare for this extensive test.

For SLt Wychopen, he was given one hour’s notice while sailing in HMCS Calgary.

Calgary is currently doing its Directed Sea Readiness Training program while participating in a Task Group Exercise with HMC Ships Regina, Brandon, Whitehorse, Nanaimo, and two Orca-Class Patrol Craft Training (PCT) Vessels, PCT Cougar and Wolf, off the coast of Vancouver Island. 

“As result of having Sea Training (Pacific) and the Commander Canadian Fleet Pacific and his staff on board Calgary, there was the correct number of assessment personnel to convene a qualification board,” said SLt Wychopen.

The board involves two parts; the first being theoretical, where senior officers ask questions that pertain to Officer of the Watch work. These are skill-testing questions that ensure the fundamentals of being a Naval Warfare Officer are understood.

The second part is conducted practically where a Naval Warfare Officer is placed in a simulation or is graded during watches at sea. Scenarios are preposed to confirm the candidate can keep the ship safe in any situation.

“I am happy to have successfully completed my board and now that it’s behind me, I can focus on the next phase of my career,” said SLt Wychopen.

His next decision is to choose one of several director level qualifications including Navigation Officer, Underwater Warfare Officer, Above Water Warfare Officer, Information Warfare Officer, Communication’s Systems Information Officer, Naval Operations Tactical Operations Group Officer, Clearance Dive Officer and Deck Officer.

“I want to be an Underwater Warfare Officer. I find that director level occupation to be the most interesting of all the options and goes well with my family naval heritage.”

When Calgary completes its high-readiness training, it will remain at sea for the time being to ensure the Royal Canadian Navy is ready to support the Government of Canada’s objectives and requests for assistance to address its COVID-19 response, while simultaneously protecting the health and safety of its members.

“Now that I can see the NOPQ board in my rear-view mirror, I’ll continue to look ahead and conquer the next challenge.” 

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