High tech navy bus ready to roll

CPO2 Mike Babcock in front of the recruiting bus

CPO2 Mike Babcock is the regional naval attractions co-ordinator for B.C. and Alberta. This summer he will travel with the bus to the Calgary Stampede, Klondike Days in Edmonton, the PNE in Vancouver and the Abbotsford Air Show.

The Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) is looking to hire 500 regular force and 360 reserve sailors per year over the next three years.

To showcase the face of the navy to the public and help entice potential recruits to a career on the ocean, the RCN, coordinated through Naval Reserve Headquarters in Quebec City, uses five modified commercial buses for total-force naval attraction activities. This is in addition to, and augments the established CF recruiting group organization.

“The buses were initiated by the regular force in 2007 to better assist in reaching out to the public and to combat maritime blindness,” says CPO2 Mike Babcock, One Navy Visibility and Attractions Regional Outreach Coordinator for B.C. and Alberta. “We use this piece of kit as a mobile information kiosk to tell the navy story.”

Busses are rolling billboards whose interiors house a series of interactive computer systems that showcase the navy’s many responsibilities, operations, and employment opportunities.

A 12-seat theatre in the rear plays a wide variety of video productions from the Truth, Duty, Valour series to the latest RIMPAC exercise. In the middle section, a push-button video display with headphones provides job-specific information about all naval occupations.

“It’s a brilliant idea that allows people an inside look at what we do in the navy,” said CPO2 Babcock. “Most people are quite surprised at what they find when they walk into the bus. The feedback we receive is very positive.”

This summer CPO2 Babcock will travel to events across B.C. and Alberta to connect with Canadians.

“When we go to the PNE in Vancouver I bring along up to 10 sailors from the fleet so they can engage the public about what they do.”

On May 2, the bus parked in Victoria’s Inner Harbour allowing visitors to come on board and experience a taste of navy life.

“I am happy to see this and find out more information as my son has been interested in joining the navy for the past few years,” said Maria Cheema who happened to see the bus and stop in for a peak.

Also passing by was Jawad Ahmed, who is currently in the process of becoming a Canadian citizen.

“I would be interested in becoming a radiological technician as that would be ideal for me,” said Ahmed. “I like the idea of life in the navy and would like to join once I become a Canadian citizen.”

This summer the bus, along with a contingent of sailors from the fleet, will visit the Calgary Stampede, Klondike Days in Edmonton, the PNE in Vancouver, and the Abbotsford Air show.

-Shelley Lipke, Staff Writer

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