Sailor Profile – SLt Courtnay Pooley

SLt Courtnay Pooley

SLt Courtnay Pooley

A sailor’s journey from sonar technician to bridge officer in HMCS Calgary

Capt Jeff Klassen
HMCS Calgary PAO

The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), like most militaries around the world, structures its ranks in two separate progression streams: officers and non-commissioned members – NCMs.

Each stream has its own linear rank structure – there are both high-ranking officers and high-ranking NCMs. The majority of members don’t cross over from one stream to the other, but it does happen.

Sub-Lieutenant (SLt) Courtnay Pooley is one of those NCMs that made the jump. He grew up on a small Rocky Mountain farm in the Nicola Valley just outside of Merritt, British Columbia. He spent years working as a sonar technician in HMCS Calgary. Now, after upgrading his education and training, he’s back with the same ship, this time as an officer on the bridge.

“Each stream (officer or NCM) is difficult in its own way,” said SLt Pooley. “As an NCM you are expected to follow orders, work hard, and not necessarily know why. As an officer, you are given much higher levels of responsibility and while the day-to-day work isn’t as physical, that responsibility weighs on you.”

SLt Pooley worked as sonar technician from 2013 to 2016. In 2016, he applied for the University Training Plan for Non-Commissioned Members. The program paid for SLt Pooley to get an Economics degree from the University of Victoria. He chose to become a Naval Warfare Officer – a general leadership position that covers many officer roles in the navy.

“I wanted to stay in the navy because I still wanted to travel and I picked Naval Warfare Officer, instead of pursuing engineering as one might expect from a technician, because I heard it is one of the most demanding trades in the military and I wanted that challenge.”

This year, he is working with many of his old NCM friends, although they are all higher ranked in the NCM stream now. He gets moments of déjà vu when walking around the ship.

“It’s weird coming back after having learned so much and having left for so long. You come back and see your old equipment and remember a lot of it. It’s still the same ship. I sometimes get flashbacks. I walk by 17 Mess every time I go to the gym and I think ‘wow, I slept in there for 300 days’, but I haven’t been there yet on this sail as it’s not my home anymore.”

While on Operation Artemis, SLt Pooley works on the bridge helping navigate the ship through the busy Gulf of Oman as Calgary intercepts drug smugglers posing as fishing vessels. The ship recently made a drug seizure of 1,286 kg of heroin, the single largest heroin seizure in Combined Maritime Forces history.


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  1. Peter Timonin says:

    Any relation to Ian Pooley? We were UNTD cadets together in 1966-67.

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