Naval ambassadors become submariners for a day

Left: Honorary Captain (Navy) David Labistour scopes out dockyard through the submarine’s periscope. Right: Honorary Captain (Navy) Mandy Farmer climbs down the ladder into a Victoria-Class submarine to check out the living and working space within the boat. Photos by Peter Mallett, Lookout Newspaper

Left: Honorary Captain (Navy) David Labistour scopes out dockyard through the submarine’s periscope. Right: Honorary Captain (Navy) Mandy Farmer climbs down the ladder into a Victoria-Class submarine to check out the living and working space within the boat. Photos by Peter Mallett, Lookout Newspaper

Peter Mallett, Staff Writer ~

Clad in their naval combat dress, two West Coast-based Honorary Captains (Navy) climbed down the main access hatch of HMCS Chicoutimi July 13 to tour the living and working space of the long-range hunter-killer submarine.

Once inside the boat, HCapt(N) Mandy Farmer and HCapt(N) David Labistour were able to see the internal workings within the black cigar-shaped hull.

“The submarine was pretty mind blowing, and I can only imagine what life must be like on board for extended periods of time,” said HCapt(N) Farmer. “What also blew me away was the camaraderie and overwhelming sense of family amongst submariners. The passion and dedication they have for their boats and each other was inspirational.”

Submariners Lt(N) David Hendry and CPO2 Jonathan Wright took the two guests through the boat, stopping at the control room to explain how the sonar, control console, and periscope work.

The two were also shown the messes, living quarters, weapons storage, and engine rooms.

“Having people come down in the submarine and see the work that we do gives them a different and unique perspective on what submarines can offer to Canada,” said Lt(N) Hendry. “They can see the capabilities we have, and the importance of the programme, and what life is like onboard a submarine. It is something that myself and the crew are passionate about, so we always love the opportunity to show off what we do, how we live, and the conditions that we work in.”

Before they ventured down the hatch, the two Honorary Captains tried their hand at navigating a submarine into port in the Naval Officer Training Centre bridge simulator. Lt(N) Mark Hiebert and Lt(N) Hendry first gave them a demonstration of the software program that replicates Halifax harbour and the jetty at HMC Dockyard. Then it was the visitors’ turn to take over the bridge controls and guide the virtual submarine alongside.

“Thankfully there will be no consequences if I miscalculate my heading and speed,” jested HCapt(N) Labistour.

Their day-long tour guide, Capt(N) Chris Robinson, Commander of Canadian Submarine Force, says an up-close look at the navy is crucial to the role of Honorary Captains.

“These distinguished Canadians – appointed by the Minister of National Defence – are leaders in their respective fields and take on the role of ambassador for the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) to the Canadian people as a whole,” he says.

Honorary Captains come from all across the nation and are an integral part of the navy family, each one committed to making a difference for Canada through their support of the RCN. Understanding the navy, its people, missions, successes and struggles is needed to be successful in their honorary duties, he adds.

“The role of Honorary Captains is to do outreach and to champion our mission. Today is our chance to introduce them to the team, and give them a chance to see what we do and how we do it so they are better able to speak on our behalf in the circles in which they work,” said Capt(N) Robinson. “We wanted the experience to be enjoyable, but also make sure they saw as much of the equipment as possible and have a sense of the crew.”

HCapt(N) Mandy Farmer is the President and CEO of Accent Inns Inc. and is affiliated with CFB Esquimalt. HCapt(N) David Labistour is CEO of Mountain Equipment Co-Op and represents the Canadian Submarine Force in his honorary role.

Before calling it a day, the two had lunch with submariners in the Submarine Support Facility cafeteria, and then clambered into a Rigid-Hulled Inflatable Boat for a ride across the harbour to Fleet Diving Unit (Pacific). There they saw the decompression chambers and how they are used, and the Damage Control Building’s Battle System Control Trainer that teaches sailors and submariners how to deal with ship-board floods and fires.

“I expected to see the level of technological sophistication and the strategic side of submarines, but my over-arching takeaway from this experience is the thoughtfulness and intelligence of every man and woman whom I have met,” said HCapt(N) Labistour. “It’s an absolute eye-opener to see the depth of thinking that goes into their actions and decisions.”

Filed Under: Top Stories

RSSComments (0)

Trackback URL

Leave a Reply




If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a Gravatar.