HMCS Malahat crews Orca-Class Training Sail

Group shot of HMCS Malahat’s Ship’s Company that participated in the Malahat Orca-Class Training Sail on the foc’sle of Orca-Class Training Vessel PCT Moose 62. Photo: Acting Sub-Lieutenant Carson Stoney.

Group shot of HMCS Malahat’s Ship’s Company that participated in the Malahat Orca-Class Training Sail on the foc’sle of Orca-Class Training Vessel PCT Moose 62. Photo: Acting Sub-Lieutenant Carson Stoney.

Lt(N) Donald Den, 
HMCS Malahat PAO 


HMCS Malahat conducted a self-directed Orca-Class Training Sail over the Victoria Day long weekend, with support from Patrol Craft Training Unit (PCTU).

Over three days, 23 Malahat sailors of varying ranks took PCT Moose 62 to sea for training in navigation, seamanship, responses to shipboard emergencies and familiarization with life onboard ship.

This was the first Orca-class weekend sail since before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, where HMCS Malahat could proceed to sea as a unit, filling the majority of the key positions required to operate an Orca-class patrol vessel safely at sea.

“It was great to get out as a full Ship’s Company at sea,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Erik Lindholm, the weekend sail Cox’n. “A lot of our newer sailors had never been in a ship before and now have that experience, as well as working through their first ‘Know Your Ship’ book for the Orca-class.”

The program included training in the Southern Gulf Islands, a night steam in the Strait of Georgia, and a port visit to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island, Wash. The crew took advantage of the time and the fair weather to complete formal training package progression and on-the-job training, including small boat launches and recovery, line handling and rigging, and practicing firefighting and damage control protocols.

“It was great to go out as a whole unit to get some much-needed training done,” said Sailor 1st Class (S1) Michael Gingras. “I worked on my training package and learned about different systems, and it was great to be on ship with everyone and connect with people that I might not see as often.” 

Junior ranks and subordinate officers made up 16 members of the 24-person crew. Most supported this sail as Bridge Watch-on-Deck, building awareness and experience in the maritime environment, including spotting various marine mammals, as the ship’s lookout, and controlling the ship’s direction and speed on the helm.

“It was definitely beneficial getting junior members the opportunity to train on the bridge and get that actual sea experience,” said Lieutenant (Navy) Bryn Stephenson, Malahat’s Deck Officer and Operations Officer for the sail. “Members both furthered their training, but also had a great deal of fun as well, which supports member retention and unit morale.” 

Malahat’s Marine Technicians served as Orca-class Engineers and as Roundspersons, maintaining the propulsion and electrical plant going and troubleshooting issues as they arose. While in the galley, one of Malahat’s cooks worked with S1 Rocky Zhang of PCTU, the Chief Cook, to keep the crew’s bellies and morale well-fed with daily soup, nutritious meals, and delectable baked goods, including fresh-baked croissants.

Everyone was busy running the ship’s routine and maintaining vigilance as Malahat operated at sea. Upon arriving in Friday Harbor, many contributed to planning the visit, organizing sports activities, satisfying customs requirements, and maintaining a vigilant duty watch.

Malahat is proud to organically crew a naval unit and to operate it safely at sea,” said Lt(N) Justin Lam, Malahat’s Training Officer and Officer-in-Charge for the sail. “While we build teamwork and skills year-round in various in-unit and external exercises, accomplishing a mission at sea builds cohesion and confidence like no other experience.”

In addition to the training opportunities, members enjoyed memorable at-sea experiences, including watching Game 6 of the NHL playoffs series between the Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks while at sea, as well as spotting a pod of orcas in Haro Strait.

“This was an excellent opportunity for seasoned sailors to return to the fundamentals of why we chose to join the Navy, and for our newer members to experience the unique joys and challenges of seagoing service among their friends and colleagues,” said Lieutenant-Commander Anne Gardam, Malahat’s Commanding Officer, at the conclusion of the sail. 

By the time Malahat’s sailors disembarked from the sail, they could truly reflect on the valuable training and fun that only an on-ship experience can bring.

“Getting to know what it’s like to sail in a ship was memorable,” said Sailor 3rd Class Isabelle Maguet, one of Malahat’s most junior members. “I am heading off to finish my Basic Military Training in Quebec shortly and having some experience in a ship was great.”

About the Sail

The sail was an extensive undertaking, requiring months of planning, which is no small feat for novice and junior sailors. 

Duties included:

  • The lookout;
  • The helm;
  • Briefing leaders on engineering risks and recommendations to mitigate risk;
  • Handling lines to slip and berth a ship;
  • Operating a small boat to prepare to receive a ship alongside;
  • Feeding 24 people over three days while accommodating dietary restrictions.

The sail offered all these experiences as a matter of course.

Did you know?

Sailor 1st Class Rocky Zhang is a local CFB Esquimalt celebrity, with more than 34K followers on TikTok and 11K followers on Instagram! 


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