RCN sailors train for the future with Chilean Navy

The Royal Canadian Navy sailors taking part in Replenishment at Sea training with the Chilean Navy pose for a photo on board the Almirante Montt.

The Royal Canadian Navy sailors taking part in Replenishment at Sea training with the Chilean Navy pose for a photo on board the Almirante Montt.

By Lt(N) Ellie Aminaie
Officer in Charge of Canadian Crew on board Almirante Montt ~

Seventeen Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) sailors, ranging from the rank of Lieutenant (Navy) to Ordinary Seaman, took part in three weeks of Replenishment at Sea (RAS) force generation training on board the Chilean tanker Almirante Montt.

With the absence of an Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment (AOR) platform in the Pacific Fleet since the de-commissioning of HMCS Protecteur in 2015, many junior sailors have not had the opportunity to operate with a tanker, let alone on board one. In preparation for the arrival of Canada’s own AOR, MV Asterix, in 2018, this timely opportunity to train RCN sailors on board Almirante Montt proved very beneficial.

The Montt travelled from its home naval base in Valparaiso, Chile, to meet the Canadian sailors in Pearl Harbour, Hawaii, in mid-July. The Montt then proceeded west to rendezvous with HMCS Ottawa and HMCS Winnipeg, who were on their journey home to Esquimalt after a five-month deployment on Poseidon Cutlass.

Once the three ships met, the RAS force generation training was in full swing, carrying out a multitude of exercises ranging from liquid replenishment at sea (fuelling), heavy jackstay (for transferring provisions) and two-point and multi-ship replenishments. The RCN crew onboard Montt consisted of twelve boatswains, four bridge watchkeepers, and a Maritime Surface and Sub-surface Officer Lieutenant who was the Officer in Charge of the team. They all found great benefit from this hands-on experience as it allowed them to put their training into practical use, furthering their professional development.

The Canadian crew observed the first two seamanship evolutions conducted by the Chilean crew, and then actively participated in follow-on evolutions and safely carried out the replenishment of Ottawa and Winnipeg.

“The interoperability between the two navies was seamless and the Canadian crew took direction from the experienced Chilean crew and applied the lessons learned in follow-on seamanship evolutions,” remarked Captain Rene Rojas, Commanding Officer of Almirante Montt. “Within two weeks, the Canadian crew took charge, confident in their ability to operate the various replenishment stations onboard Montt, without assistance. I was quite impressed by their professionalism.”

While en route to Esquimalt, the three ships also exchanged sailors daily, referred to as cross-pollination, in order to expose a greater number of RCN sailors to AOR operations. This opportunity was well-received by the 26 sailors who had a chance to experience life onboard a tanker for a day.

The Canadian crew spent a total of 18 days on board the Almirante Montt, travelling 4,517 nautical miles, through five time zones while conducting 21 seamanship evolutions with Ottawa and Winnipeg.

This was the third and final year that the RCN and Chilean Navy will conduct RAS force generation training together. Aside from providing an opportunity for Canadian sailors to hone their skills in RAS operations, this training also afforded the Canadian crew the opportunity to learn more about the operations and culture of the Chilean Navy.

The Chilean sailors were hosted in Victoria for eight days, where they had a chance to experience a west coast Canadian summer, before proceeding on their 21-day journey back to Chile, where it is currently the winter season.

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