Orcas gather to demonstrate manoeuvres

6 Orcas in formation

Six Patrol Craft Training (PCT) vessels conduct a starboard turn in formation in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The PCT vessels in the formation are: PCT Orca, PCT Raven, PCT Renard, PCT Wolf, PCT Grizzly and PCT Cougar.

The waters off the coast of Victoria were host to a rare sight Feb. 14: seven Orcas sailing in formation.

The Orca-class Patrol Craft Trainings (PCT) vessels set out from Esquimalt harbour before separating on different training missions.

“It was a great opportunity for a little visibility within the Royal Canadian Navy,” says Capt(N) Bradley Peats, who rode in Orca PCT 55 for the morning. “There haven’t been this many Orcas on the water at one time in quite a while, so we weren’t about the pass this chance up.”

Six of the vessels were performing Sea Readiness Inspections in preparation for various training missions, such as MARS III and MARS IV officer training, and the Command Development Course that prepares senior officers for command, and the Orca Class Engineer and Senior Boatswain’s Mate Course that trains Orca crews of the future.  

“We want to make sure everyone can work as a team and this is how we do it,” says Cdr Malcolm Musgrove, Officer in Charge of minor war vessel Sea Training. “Everyone is certified, everyone has taken their courses and has their tasks, but we want to make sure they can take their training and use it to help each other.”

The Sea Readiness Inspection ensure crews are prepared and able to respond to emergency situations through simulated fires, floods, and medical emergencies.

“It’s a valuable tool, and gives crew the realism needed to drive a message home,” says Cdr Musgrove. “Though each individual has their specific training, with this they are able to work towards the whole.”

During the morning, the seven Orcas formed up and performed various manoeuvres in formation while a helicopter overhead recorded the event. Capt(N) Peats says opportunities like this are great for the Canadian Armed Forces as they provided visibility to the community.

“When the average Canadian sees us out there they see a Canadian flag and a grey hull,” says Capt(N)  Peats. “They don’t distinguish between frigates, or Orcas, or anything. All they know is we’re out there making ourselves seen and doing our job. It’s important we make the connection and make sure the community knows we’re working to make sure we can meet their needs and the needs of the government when we’re called on.”

-Shawn O’Hara, Staff Writer

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