HMCS Ottawa doubles up on Sunday

Crewmembers enjoy a barbeque on the flight deck, served up by the Chiefs and Petty Officers.

Crewmembers enjoy a barbeque on the flight deck, served up by the Chiefs and Petty Officers.

SLt Mairi Anderson, HMCS Ottawa ~

Everyone knows that familiar feeling on a Sunday night of Monday looming with its return to work, and that the weekend just wasn’t long enough.

How often have you wished you had just one more day, one more Sunday to enjoy your weekend?

HMCS Ottawa, currently transiting the Pacific from Japan to Hawaii, got to experience the joy of an extra Sunday as they crossed the International Date Line from west to east July 23. Known as “Double Day” in HMCS Ottawa, July 23 came twice in 2017. 

“Eggs? Eggs? You want eggs? Two? Can I interest you in three?” called out Lieutenant (Navy) Julian Yates, the ship’s Logistics Officer.

To make the ship’s second experience of July 23, 2017, special, the Wardroom served breakfast to the Master Seaman and Below in a reversal of ranks. Junior sailors called out their breakfast order to the heads of their departments while joking ran up and down the meal line. Everyone in Ottawa was relieved the next day when the cooks took up their regular station on the steam line and the morning eggs arrived as ordered.

For those to whom Sunday is a day of reflection and prayer, the Padre on board, Captain Joachim Nnanna, offered a bible study to celebrate having two Sundays back to back.

“We have a wonderful congregation on board the ship and they ask the really hard questions. Double Day brought up the theological question of which is the real Sunday, the real day of rest? The fact that the crew asks these kinds of questions points to a deep spirituality and an attitude of seeking answers that attracted me to military Chaplaincy in the first place.”

Some sailors used the extra day to fit in physical training on the flight deck, enjoying the sunshine. Crewmembers lifted weights, ran laps or engaged in the Personnel Support Programs-led workouts offered throughout the day. While physical fitness is a priority in Ottawa, with exercise classes regularly offered several times a day, Double Day meant a little more free time to fit in personal physical activity such as yoga, martial arts, or a grappling session by members of the ship’s Boarding Party.

Double Day continued with a barbeque for supper, encouraging the crew to revel in the endless blue sky and deep blue sea that the mid-Pacific offers. Again reversing roles, the Chiefs and Petty Officers staffed the barbeque, cooking burgers and sausages for the ship’s company.

The evening continued with a boisterous charity auction. For the past few weeks, sailors have bought tickets for a draw to get that first kiss on the jetty once Ottawa returns to Esquimalt, as well as the Fly Home Lottery, giving a lucky sailor a chance to fly home early.

Sub-Lieutenant Kassandra O’Rourke, winner of the First Kiss Lottery, was eager to tell her girlfriend the good news.

“She will be so excited; I can hardly wait to see her again!”

The auction also sold off items collected throughout the six-month deployment from ports as diverse as Manila, Philippines, and Tokyo, Japan.

The evening ended at the Flight Deck Drive In with a movie screened on the hangar door as sailors curled up on gym mats in the warm Pacific breeze. The stars came out and the Milky Way arched over the ship as the credits rolled. Able Seaman Robert Gaumond-Harriet, a Supply Technician, summed up his experience of living July 23, 2017, twice.

“It was a special day. It was really nice to get the chance to relax with my friends on board and recharge before the homeward leg of our sail on Poseidon Cutlass 17.”

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