Busy Life of Naval Warfare Officer IV Students

A Cyclone helicopter exercised with the Orcas, doing helo hoists. Photo by SLt Wilson Ho

A Cyclone helicopter exercised with the Orcas, doing helo hoists. Photo by SLt Wilson Ho

SLt Wilson Ho
UPAR – HMCS Vancouver
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Students of Algonquin Division, Naval Warfare Officer (NWO) Course Phase IV were hard at work the last two weeks, day and night, honing their skills in their final phase of training prior to graduating the course.

All core crew and students tested negative for COVID-19 prior to embarking on three Orca Class Patrol Craft Training vessels for the sea phase that ran from July 14 to 28.

Spread out between Orca 55, Grizzly 60, and Moose 62, students conducted navigation training around the Southern Gulf Islands. Accompanied by three five-day courses of NWO II students, the Algonquin NWO IV students conducted flag hoists in Constance Bank, multiple pilotage runs, manoeuvres in the Strait of Georgia, and formation steams, cumulating their training with a helicopter operations exercise with Stinger 20, a CH-148 Cyclone based out of 443 Maritime Helicopter Squadron in Patricia Bay, Victoria.

This was the first time an Orca Class vessel and a Royal Canadian Air Force asset worked together since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, which affected millions of people worldwide.

Students were exposed to challenging situations and were consistently mentored throughout the course by experienced bridge watchkeepers from the fleet. All of them were successful in passing the sea phase.

Of course, one cannot navigate through the coastal waters of beautiful British Columbia without enjoying the scenery. Therefore, students planned and executed an anchorage run in Tribune Bay, by Hornby Island, where they got time off for a swim exercise.

Additionally, to raise morale during the sea phase, a friendly biscotti bake-off was coordinated between one of the bridge watchkeepers and all the chefs on board the three Orca Class vessels. There were no winners, as all the bakers produced delicious treats.

“I was once again impressed with the resilience and determination of all students and crew,” said Lieutenant-Commander Erik Poirier, Executive Officer of Patrol Craft Training Unit, and also the Officer in Tactical Control of the three Orca Class vessels. “Whether responding to calls for assistance, or standing watch, there was an eagerness for greater responsibility, assuring me that the future of the Royal Canadian Navy is in good hands.”

Now that they have completed their final sea phase, the students will head back to Naval Officer Training Centre Venture to challenge their NWO IV Board and complete Damage Control School training before officially heading off to either Canadian Pacific Fleet or the Canadian Atlantic Fleet to join their first warship.

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