Sailor Profile: PO1 Kurt Arnold

Petty Officer First Class (PO1) Kurt Arnold

Petty Officer First Class (PO1) Kurt Arnold

Capt Jeff Klassen
HMCS Calgary PAO

Section Base 5:
a one man emergency response team in HMCS Calgary

They’re called section bases – emergency response teams that gather in different parts of the ship during emergency situations. While most commissioned ships in the Royal Canadian Navy have four, HMCS Calgary is the only one with a Section Base 5.

Section Base 5 is the nickname given to Calgary’s Chief Cook, Petty Officer First Class (PO1) Kurt Arnold. Officers and senior Chiefs find him to be so fast and so capable at responding to emergencies they lovingly compare him to a whole team.

“It’s really rare to see sailors attain his level of knowledge for damage control and general seamanship. Through sheer determination and putting in extra hours, his knowledge is equal to or greater than some hard sea trades at his rank,” says CPO1 Arvid Lee, who was PO1 Arnold’s Coxswain when he first came to Calgary in 2018.

Part of the reason for PO1 Arnold’s success is spending a lot of time at sea, much more than the average cook. By the end of 2021, he will likely earn his Gold Sea Service Insignia (SSI) signifying he has served 1,460 full days at sea; he currently has over 1,300 sea days. Out of the roughly 16,600 Regular Force and Reserve members in the Royal Canadian Navy, only around 330 have their gold anchor. It’s especially rare for cooks because they are a purple trade, meaning even if they wear a navy uniform they can also be posted across Canada to any army or air force base.

“As always, there are exceptions but largely because of their limited amount of sea time we don’t often see support trades like cooks take on this level of seamanship expertise – and he did all of it on his own. It wasn’t pushed upon him. He studied, got into the books, and familiarized himself with everything on this class of ship,” says CPO1 Lee. “We’re just lucky enough to have a dedicated person like Kurt stay in the navy lines for most of his career so that he could gain that knowledge and experience.”

Section bases report to various spaces on ship when an emergency alarm sounds, most often as part of the frequent training conducted on ship. Emergency situations typically involve putting out fires, stopping floods, shoring bulk heads, or helping with casualties. PO1 Arnold’s area of responsibility includes the galley (navy-speak for kitchen) and adjacent areas.

“Whenever I have a job to do on ship, I give it my all – that’s just what I’m here for,” says PO1 Arnold. “If I detect a problem that can have an exponentially larger effect on how much damage is done to the ship, I need to get the problem solved as fast as I can so my team can get back to providing the vital function of feeding the crew.”

PO1 Arnold tries to pass on his expertise to the cooks that work for him.

“The cook trade is an integral part of the ship. Besides feeding people, we are at our best when we can perform secondary duties and responsibilities with confidence,” he says. “I’m hoping the work I do inspires junior cooks to take on duties in the same way I did and continue to inspire sailors into the future.”

PO1 Arnold also assists the ship’s chaplain when one is embarked, and he will take over holding a Sunday service when one is not. He is currently working on a Master’s degree from Masters College and Seminary. After 24 years of service, his plan is to retire from the military in 2022 and settle on the East Coast as a pastor in the Pentecostal Church.


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  1. Beverley Gosbee says:

    So very proud of you Kurt. Keep up the good work. Keep safe. Prayers to you and the crew.

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