Former shipmates work together again at RIMPAC22

Sailors from HMAS Supply

Sailors from HMAS Supply pose with Vancouver’s kisby ring on board the ship during a visit to discuss Close-In Weapons System 1B, a relatively new piece of kit for the Australian ships. Photo by Sergeant Ghislain Cotton.

Lieutenant(N) Michelle Scott 
HMCS Vancouver PAO

The Alistair MacDonald song ‘Heading for Halifax’ famously notes that for those born in Cape Breton ‘Wherever they go, there’s bound to be friends from back home.’

Arriving in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, for Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2022, Lieutenant-Commander (LCdr) Stephen Wall, Operations Officer in Her Majesty’s Australian Ship (HMAS) Supply, found that particularly true.

LCdr Wall was born and raised on Cape Breton Island, N.S., and served in Esquimalt-based ships as a Naval Warfare Officer for 16 years before joining the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).

The exercise gave him an opportunity to re-connect with many former shipmates on the Canadian frigates, also alongside in Pearl Harbor for RIMPAC, including his former shipmate Commander Kevin Whiteside on Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Calgary, now HMCS Vancouver’s Commanding Officer.

“It was a great opportunity to leverage the deep technical knowledge of the system that RCN operators are known for,” said LCdr Wall. “We shared technical and training ideas and practices to improve both of our teams.”

LCdr Wall reached out to schedule a visit for his RAN team to discuss Close-In Weapons System (CIWS) 1B training and maintenance on HMAS Supply. The CIWS 1B is less widely employed on Australian ships, but his Canadian counterparts are well-versed in the weapon system located on the hangar top of each Halifax-class ship.

The cross-deck evolution helped the Australian sailors develop their understanding of the weapons system and obtain helpful tips and tricks from seasoned CIWS operators and maintainers.

“We discussed a wide variety of topics, both procedure-based and concept-based,” explained Sailor First Class (S1) Joop Koerten, Weapons Engineering Technician and Vancouver’s CIWS subject-matter-expert.

“I shared knowledge with the maintainers, including techniques for maintenance procedures, products I prefer to use, and the areas that need special attention to keep the system healthy,” S1 Koerten said.

The opportunity for cross-deck evolutions was built into RIMPAC’s shore phase, and the Vancouver crew took every opportunity to work with partner nations and allies. The training outside the planned RIMPAC evolutions not only improved the ship’s capacity for interoperability between nations, but also formed new friendships and strengthened old ones. Those relationships will continue to create future opportunities to learn as Vancouver carries on with allies in support of Operations Projection and Neon upon completion of RIMPAC.

For S1 Koerten, the experience of hosting sailors from HMAS Supply was a highlight of his first ever RIMPAC experience.

“RIMPAC is incredible; it’s like the all-stars for our line of work. It’s the perfect time to get exposure to other naval systems and develop your skillset. The diversity of everyone’s individual training and experiences creates a wealth of knowledge everyone can learn from,” he said.

Twenty-six nations, 38 surface ships, four submarines, nine national land forces, more than 30 unmanned systems, approximately 170 aircraft, and more than 25,000 personnel are training and operating in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California from June 29 to Aug. 4. RIMPAC, the world’s largest international maritime exercise, provides a unique training opportunity while fostering and sustaining cooperative relationships among participants critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s oceans. RIMPAC 2022 is the 28th exercise in the series that began in 1971.

 

Sailor First Class Joop Koerten, HMCS Vancouver Weapons Engineering Technician, shows Australian sailors from HMAS Supply the Close-In Weapons System on July 7, 2022 alongside Pearl Harbor. Photo by Sergeant Ghislain Cotton

 

 

 

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