Operation Sticky Bun: a sweet normal returns

A/SLt LeMesurier with the goods following Operation Sticky Bun.

A/SLt LeMesurier with the goods following Operation Sticky Bun.

A/SLt Emily Gjos

Chances are if you speak to any junior officer who completed their Naval Warfare Officer training in the Gulf Islands they will know what you mean by Sticky Bun Run.

It is tradition for students on the sea phase of Naval Warfare Officer courses on the West Coast to plan, execute, and enjoy an expedition to a small bakery in Ladysmith, or occasionally in Lund, B.C.

Both bakeries make amazing cinnamon buns, almost the size of a human head.

It has beens months since the last trip to Ladysmith’s Old Town Bakery due to the pandemic.

However, when training operations resumed last month, the words “Sticky Buns” were floated throughout the crews of three Orca Class Patrol Craft Training Unit vessels conducting Naval Warfare Officer training from Sept 8 to 17. 

The idea was met with excitement and skepticism; could they really pull off a sticky bun run in a pandemic environment? What precautions should they take to ensure the safety of the crews and community? With these questions top of mind, the students were tasked to plan and execute Operation Sticky Bun.

The second last day of the sail was chosen, in part to limit contact with the public that could affect training outcomes, and to reward the crews for their hard work over the 10-day sail.

A four-person team drawn from one of the three ships would deploy in the ship’s Zodiac, in masks, to collect the buns from the bakery and distribute to the two sister ships, ensuring the social bubbles formed within the ships were respected.

With these precautions, the ships could ensure the safety of personnel and avoid impacting the safety of the Ladysmith community.

As the Sticky Bun Run approached, another danger was on the horizon: smoke carried from northwestern Unites States wildfires brought several days of reduced visibility. In the days leading up to Operation Sticky Bun visibility was at times less than 500 yards, increasing the risk of deploying a small boat into a harbour in low visibility.

On the morning of the planned operation, the smoke cleared in Ladysmith Harbour. Operation Sticky Bun was a go.

With excitement in the air, the crew to launch the Zodiac were closed up on the deck of PCT Grizzly 60. The boat was lowered into the water and away they went to collect the sticky buns and demonstrate a practised ability to operate safely in a COVID-19 environment.

A 20-minute jaunt over calm waters at full throttle across the harbour led to a secure alongside position and a 1.5 kilometre hike overland, the first in eight days.

Weighed down by approximately 50 giant sticky buns, the crew made the trek back to the Zodiac and finally back to the ship, sitting noticeably lower in the water than when they had left.

With shipmates ready to receive them, a daisy chain of cinnamon buns commenced. In about 60 minutes the boat’s crew had travelled approximately six kilometres by land and sea, collected 50 sticky buns, and delivered them into the eager hands of shipmates, where they were thoroughly enjoyed.

On the final day of training, the three vessels returned home to Esquimalt Harbour, the crew waving with sticky hands to HMC Ships Brandon and Regina and Her Majesty’s New Zealand Ship Te Kaha, also operating in the harbour approaches.

The after action report: Operation Sticky Bun was a sweet success.


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  1. Heather Parker says:

    What a great story. I hope some has cream cheese on them

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