HMCS Ottawa helps shape future naval decision-makers

HMCS Ottawa

A Joint Command & Staff Program member experiences what it is like to spray a firehose off of the flag deck. Photo: Sub-Lieutenant Van Herpt.

Kateryna Bandura, 
Lookout Editor

HMCS Ottawa conducted a day sail on Dec. 5 as part of the Environmental Learning Week of the Joint Command & Staff Program (JCSP).

The program hosts students who will advance into positions where they will make decisions impacting naval units and sailors. JCSP includes a week of Elemental Learning Visits where the students get exposure to a wide range of Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) strategic capabilities. The day sail was the Royal Canadian Navy’s contribution to the program, intending to expose the students to the naval environment.

“Normally, day sails target a civilian audience, and we really try and maximize the cool factor of what the Navy does,” said Sub-Lieutenant Jonathan Boerger, Bridge Watchkeeper in HMCS Ottawa and Second in Command for the day sail. “However, given that this day sail was targeted to JCSP students who all have a military background, we needed to refine our day sail program to go beyond the ‘cool factor’ and get into the strategic impact that the Halifax-class frigate and the Navy can generate.”

HMCS Ottawa hosted 125 JCSP participants: 90 Canadian students, 17 Canadian staff, 12 domestic students, and six international students. International students come from as far as Jordan, Malaysia and Kenya.

SLt Boerger said the day was a great success.

“For a lot of the guests we embarked, it was actually their first experience at sea; and they all left with smiles at the end of the day,” he said.

The ship’s crew conducted tours and static displays alongside, while action station demonstrations such as a maneuvering demo and inbound missile threat were conducted in Constance Bank. Subject Matter Experts stations included opportunities to learn about diving, the Naval Boarding Party (NBP), firefighting, missile decks, foc’sle (FX), and the Bridge and Operations Room. JCSP participants observed and participated where possible.

SLt Boerger said this day sail was not only the first real interaction with the Navy for most JCSPs, but might also be their only interaction with the Navy.

“It was a unique opportunity for the sailors onboard to help shape the JCSP students’ perception of the Navy, its capabilities and the huge value our sailors provide to the CAF,” he said.

He said he relished seeing people get genuinely excited to go to sea for the first time.

“It was great to see the students engaging with a diverse cross-section of the crew trying to learn as much as possible about the sailors, their roles onboard and the Navy in the few hours they had onboard,” he said.

SLt Boerger helped develop and coordinate the day sail program to ensure that the JCSP participants got the maximum value (and fun) for their time onboard Ottawa.

Ottawa will be going into dry-dock in early January for a short work period, followed by a busy Intermediate Multi-Ship Readiness Training program in February.

HMCS Ottawa

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