Mitchell, Ontario sailor returns from “The biggest adventure I’ve ever been on”

Andy Bader 
The Mitchell Advocate

Calling it “the biggest adventure I’ve ever been on,” Mitchell, Ontario, native Lt(N) Lisa Tubb recently returned home after circumnavigating North America with the Royal Canadian Navy.

Lt(N) Tubb, 27, was the public affairs officer attached to HMCS Harry DeWolf on its maiden voyage the final few months of 2021. It was her first deployment as she began her fourth year in Canada’s military.

“I feel silly lucky,” she said during a short six-day Christmas visit to parents’ Jim and Faye Tubb, before returning to home base in Ottawa. “I still can’t believe I did it.”

Lt(N) Tubb heard whispers she may be nominated for deployment in June, and to her astonishment was chosen in late July, giving her a couple of weeks to prepare.

“It was one heckuva deployment. Everyone wanted a piece of this,” she says. “This is probably one of the biggest adventures I’ve ever been on.”

Lt(N) Tubb was one of about 80 people, including 65 crew members, who sailed in HMCS Harry DeWolf; the first in class Arctic and Offshore Patrol Vessel (AOPV). She left Ottawa Aug. 10 and met up with the ship in Iqaluit, Nunavut, where they completed Operation Nanook, Canada’s signature arctic exercise alongside Canadian and American coast guard ships.

“For me, I passed the Arctic Circle, so that was a milestone for a first-time sailor,” she says.

The crew re-explored the Northwest Passage – becoming the second Royal Canadian Navy ship to transit through since 1954, visited Beechey Island, learned how to navigate through the changing northern environment, and learned how to safely get through ice fields.

For a student of history, (she has a Master’s degree in Canadian history), the chance to re-trace part of the Franklin Expedition where James Franklin’s failed to locate and transit the pathway from Atlantic to Pacific through Canada’s ice-strewn Arctic inlets, was unbelievable.

“It’s Canadian folklore at its finest,” she says. “We re-traced part of their path and broke some ice, which was fantastic to experience.

“It was a really moving experience to be linked to previous generations of sailors that many were unable to do,” she adds. “Touching a piece of Canadian history was amazing.”

The group also met with, and learned about Indigenous communities in Pond Inlet, Arctic Bay, Grise Fjord, Cambridge Bay, and Kugluktuk.

The ship toured the north, wrapped around Alaska, and then rested for about one month in Victoria, B.C., in early October before heading south on their second mission called Operation Caribbe in the Caribbean Sea and eastern Pacific Ocean. There they assisted in counter-narcotic operations alongside the United States Coast Guard.

In total, the group seized almost 2,600 kilograms of cocaine in November, keeping the illegal contraband from entering North America. Lt(N) Tubb described it as one would picture from a movie, with air surveillance, intelligence officers, and task forces working together to catch red-handed vessels they were sure had drugs on board.

DeWolf was able to complete something it was designed to do, so to see it come to life with people I had just met was fantastic,” she said. “It was something else. It felt like I was in a movie.”

Lt(N) Tubb and the ship also sailed through the Panama Canal, completed some diplomatic work in Jamaica as well as in Norfolk, Virginia, on the U.S. east coast, before finally returning to Halifax at the end of 2021.

As a public affairs officer, she was responsible for everything coming off the ship for public consumption, including social media posts, stories, video and photos. She participated in evidence gathering and helped organize press conferences. She also helped organize tours of the ship while in the far north, something she said was a thrill, not only for her but the Indigenous people with whom they interacted.

“It was a small crew, and like anyone I stepped up to work at cleaning stations and help move contraband. I got my hands dirty like every officer on board,” she says. “For my first deployment, I feel like I’ve seen everything now and am coming back to my home unit in Ottawa very confident.”

As for the future, Lt(N) Tubb said she’s looking forward to whatever happens next.

“That’s the best part – you reach one goal and suddenly a new goal appears on the horizon,” she says.

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