HMCS Ottawa visits Shanghai

HMCS Ottawa visits Shanghai

SLt Ben Mullin-Lamarche, HMCS Ottawa ~

As the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLA(N)) brass band echoed from the jetty in Shanghai, China, HMCS Ottawa came alongside May 26, greeted by Senior Captain Wei, Chief of Staff to the Commander Shanghai Naval Base, and sailors from the host ship Zuxhou.

That evening, members of the ship’s company were treated to a reception against a backdrop of the brightly lit Shanghai skyline.

There, they mingled with the officers and crew of the host ship and enjoyed a buffet dinner. The reception included speeches given by Rear-Admiral Wang, Commander Shanghai Naval Base, and Rear-Admiral Art McDonald, Commander Maritime Forces Pacific. Both highlighted the importance of relationships and communication between the navies in the Asia-Pacific region.

This visit marked Ottawa’s third to the Chinese city, the first being in 2002 and the second in 2008. However, it was the first Royal Canadian Navy ship deployed on Poseidon Cutlass, an operation designed to provide opportunities to conduct diplomatic engagements to other countries in support of Government of Canada objectives.

The next afternoon, Rear-Admiral McDonald visited PLA(N) ship Zuxhou, and made an office call on Vice Mayor of Shanghai Xu Kunlin, before coming aboard Ottawa to present awards and promotions.

Included in the parade was recognition of some deserving sailors for their work and dedication with Commander Maritime Forces Pacific and Formation Chief coins.

“It is definitely a different experience,” said Leading Seaman Tom Eustace, who was presented with a Bravo Zulu Coin by the Admiral. “I was not expecting it at all. It’s nice to be recognized in front of peers.”

Following the awards ceremony, the ship’s company prepared a reception for key community, PLA(N) and Canadian leaders in Shanghai, which was hosted by RAdm McDonald and the Canadian Ambassador to China, the Honourable John McCallum.

While the ship was hosting events onboard, members of the ship’s company went ashore with Captain Joachim Nnanna, the ship’s chaplain, for community outreach. Ottawa sailors visited ‘Home Sweet Home,’ a homeless shelter in Shanghai, China.

“The group of enthusiastic and dedicated sailors helped package the afternoon meal and then enjoyed some social time with shelter staff and guests,” said the Padre. “These kinds of interactions that positively affect the lives of those less privileged in society strongly define Canadians, and our sailors embody the best of these altruistic Canadian values. Our service activity is a fine example of one of the aims of Poseidon Cutlass, which is global engagement. We look forward to continued efforts to demonstrate our commitment to global humanitarianism.”

Master Corporal Darlene Svendsen was among the group that went with the Padre.

“We discovered the universal language of selfies and playing cards,” she said. “We had some laughs over cards and the snack food that was served. They made an impact on us via their commitment to keeping the shelter going in the midst of a very busy city.”

Members also visited a local high school Canadian Studies program. Chinese students in this program aspire to study abroad in Canada at the university level.

“We went to talk to them about our roles in the navy and our education,” said Leading Seaman Daniel Richard. “There was a question period at the end and they asked some very pertinent questions. The kids seemed genuinely very interested.”

Ottawa hosted tours for several groups while alongside, including sailors from Zuxhou and Canadian Consulate staff and families, and the host ship also took a group of Canadian sailors for a tour.

Activities on board included an academic roundtable on the topic of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, hosted by RAdm McDonald and facilitated by Dr. Jim Bouthilier, Special Advisor MARPAC, which was attended by both Canadian and Chinese academics and senior officials.

On the final afternoon alongside, Ottawa members played a friendly game of basketball against the PLA(N) Shanghai Naval Base basketball team.

Ottawa departed the port of Shanghai June 1, saluted by a contingent of sailors from Zuxhou. The frigate conducted a Passage Exercise with the host ship after exiting the mouth of the Huangpu River, which included a Conduct for Unknown Encounters at Sea exercise, flashing light exercise, and manoeuvres.

“This exercise at sea was a great opportunity to increase our navies’ interoperability while also capping off a tremendously successful program and visit,” said Commander Sylvain Belair, Commanding Officer HMCS Ottawa.

Ottawa’s next port visit will be in Okinawa, Japan, where ship and crew prepare to conduct a missile firing exercise before rejoining HMCS Winnipeg for the remainder of Poseidon Cutlass 17.

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