RCN Officers Participate in International Symposium

Lt(N) Seán Place
Canadian Submarine Force

From Nov. 8 to 13, the Marina de Guerra del Perú (the Peruvian Navy) hosted the 8th International Symposium of the New Generation of Naval Officers of the Navies of the Americas. It is an annual conference of junior officers from across the American continent that provides an opportunity to establish contacts in other navies and learn from one another’s experiences.

Lieutenant(Navy) Kevin Perron of HMCS D’Iberville and I had the honour of representing the Royal Canadian Navy during this exchange, which we shared with officers from the navies of Argentina, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Peru, the United States, and Uruguay.

The theme of this year’s iteration of the symposium was “Lessons Learned by the Navy during the COVID-19 Pandemic.”

Lt(N) Perron and I conducted a joint presentation on two subjects. As the Training Officer of D’Iberville, he discussed the effectiveness of pivoting to Team- and Zoom-based training within his unit. I presented a retrospective on how the pandemic had increased submarine crew’s time away from home and how rapid antigen testing and, more importantly, mass vaccination has allowed the easing of pre-embarkation protocols.

However, some of the lessons learned presented by our colleagues were sobering reminders of the devastation wrought in many countries in the early stages of the pandemic.

The naval forces of some co-participants undertook grim tasks such as transportation and storage of people who had succumbed to COVID-19 during the strictest lockdowns in their countries, when mortuary or funeral services were completely unavailable. It was with the greatest humility that we listened and learned from our fellow naval officers whose lessons from the pandemic made ours seem trifling by comparison.

Nevertheless, we had many enjoyable and thought-provoking experiences during the weeklong conference, including spending two nights aboard the four-masted tall ship BAP Unión, the sail training ship of the Peruvian Navy. We visited the Cyberdefence Command of the Marina de Guerra, the naval shipyard of Callao, the Antarctic research vessel BAP Carrasco, the Naval Academy and Maritime Warfare School, the landing platform, dock (LPD) BAP Pisco, and a naval airbase. Lastly, we attended a forum on naval power in the Spanish American wars of independence.

We are thankful to our hosts that at 10:58 a.m. on Nov. 11, Lt(N) Perron and I were permitted to join the group to observe the two minutes’ silence for Remembrance Day.

The highlight of the trip was sailing in Unión, during which we ascended the rigging to experience the excellent vantage point of the mizzen-top and observe the Paracas Candelabra geoglyph. After climbing down to the upper deck, we celebrated with a refreshing pisco sour and mouth-watering ceviche. As Rear-Admiral Saz, director of the Maritime Warfare School, remarked, the best reason to return to Peru is the food.

All told, the participation in symposium was a tremendously rewarding experience, with the greatest success being the creation of friendships and contacts that will no doubt serve all participants well throughout our respective naval careers.


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