Ever On Guard – one sailor’s journey in HMCS Vancouver

A/SLt Simona Mitu

A/SLt Simona Mitu 
HMCS Vancouver

Sailing in HMCS Vancouver has been a blast.

Although I am still new to the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) – being a student at Naval Fleet School (Venture) – I was given the opportunity recently to join the ship as they sailed to Hawaii and California while I waited for my Phase IV course to start. 

The first thing I noticed was just how much spirit the crew has, with their outstanding professionalism, inclusion, and resilience. Being considered one of the Battle Cats (nickname for the crew) is definitely one of the best feelings in the world.

After a lot hard work, Vancouver is on track for their upcoming deployment later this year, and I am glad to have been a part of their training.

One of the most noticeable things about being posted to a frigate is the amount of spaces on board.  It is really intricate, and every nook and cranny is crucial for the good operation of the ship. Doors and hatches everywhere.

I particularly enjoyed spending time in the Machinery Control Room (MCR) learning about the engineering side of the ship. In the words of PO2 Allen Marin, the MCR is “the coolest place to hang out. This is where we drive everything, and where you get to hang out with the coolest people on Earth.”

Despite the many challenges of the pandemic, and a schedule packed with some of the most difficult trials a ship can go through, the Battle Cats showed tremendous strength. It all comes from the inspiring internal culture. As the ship’s Executive Officer, LCdr Arthur says, “Better every day, Vancouver. Better every day.”

It is difficult to contain my excitement when I speak of all the adventures I took part on with the ship. I can hardly believe that I helped launch a helicopter, and I took the con impromptu (driving the ship) for the first time on a frigate, during high speed maneuvers no less. I also fought simulated fires in firefighting gear.

In the RCN the responsibilities are significant, but the adventures are unlimited. No sunrise or sunset is the same. The beauty and vastness of every second spent on open water adds a fine touch to the saltiness in sailors.

Throughout the month of February, Vancouver and HMCS Calgary sailed together for our Intermediate Multi-Ship Readiness Training programme. This is a comprehensive programme led by Sea Training Pacific to ensure a ship and crew are ready for any challenges that may come up during months-long deployment.

Vancouver was tested for combat readiness under difficult and changing conditions by the best experts in their field, and passed hundreds of requirements successfully. We were assessed on helicopter operations, replenishments at sea, tow approaches, light line transfers, boat operations, pilotage through narrow channels, anchorages, weapons testing and firing, damage control, and responding quickly to emergencies. Everything we learn as Naval Officers in the classrooms and simulators, I had the privilege to see it happen in real time as part of an operational unit.

I initially joined the military to prove to myself that I am strong, and that I can be stronger. In time, it became so much more. It is deeply rewarding to be in the naval service of one of the best countries in the world.  I am close to finishing my Naval Warfare Officer IV training, and I am excited about what comes next. Thank you again to Team Vancouver for their support, kindness, and continuous encouragement.

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