Harry DeWolf exchange: Once-in-a-lifetime experience for U.S. junior officer

Lieutenant Junior Grade Kyle Luchau, a United States Navy sailor on exchange with HMCS Harry DeWolf, at work on the ship’s bridge.

Royal Canadian Navy

When HMCS Harry DeWolf finished its historic circumnavigation of North America on Dec. 16, 2021, one member of the crew headed home with a duffle bag full of memories and one-of-a-kind experiences.

United States Navy sailor Lieutenant Junior Grade (LTJG) Kyle Luchau joined the ship in mid-August, although his journey began many months earlier when he applied for the inter-navy exchange “on a whim.”

“I heard about the chance to travel through the Arctic, and without hesitation I put my name forward,” says LTJG Luchau, noting that he didn’t have high hopes of being selected. “Then one day I was requested in my Executive Officer’s cabin where I saw he was on the phone. He asked me one question: ‘Do you have a valid passport?’”

Soon after, LTJG Luchau was on his way to Ottawa for a quarantine period, then travelled to Iqaluit, Nunavut, to meet the ship.

In addition to strengthening working relationships between the Royal Canadian Navy and the United States Navy, sailors such as LTJG Luchau who are selected for the exchange program become familiar with the other nation’s operating systems and standard operating procedures.

During his time on board, LTJG Luchau worked to master the systems of the Harry DeWolf-class Arctic and Offshore Patrol Vessel, and participated in both Operations Nanook (the Canadian Armed Forces’ signature northern exercise) and Caribbe (Canada’s participation in U.S.-led counter-narcotics operations in the eastern Pacific Ocean) as part of the ship’s company.

He took up duties expected of a naval warfare officer: standing watches, attending briefs and lectures, studying, and aiding the Defence Research and Development Canada’s scientists launch a new towed-array system.

He also led the on-board commemorative event to mark the 20th anniversary of the World Trade Centre attacks, which happened in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001.

“I’ll never forget how connected our two countries are, and how much this event affected the world…This will be an extremely memorable moment for me over my career,” he says.

Nearing the end of the deployment, the entire navigation department gathered on the bridge. Commander Corey Gleason, the ship’s Commanding Officer, awarded a bridge watch keeping ticket to LTJG Luchau, officially recognizing the captain’s trust in his abilities to take charge of the ship.

“The whole event is unbelievable, just the fact that an American officer has earned the trust of a Canadian captain is incredible,” LTJG Luchau says. “I feel really lucky, and very proud to have been here and to have had these experiences with the crew.”

As the deployment neared its end, LTJG Luchau ignored the crew countdowns, wishing to thoroughly enjoy the experience until the very last day.

“I came on board and was immediately accepted by the crew. I’m so thankful for that and for everyone’s support. This experience – circumnavigating North America, the journey through the Northwest Passage, and interdicting two vessels on Operation Caribbe – this will be a highlight of my career.”


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