Scottish Starburst by the Sea: Army and Navy join forces for training exercise

Photo by Cpl Gavin Kennedy

Photo by Cpl Gavin Kennedy

SLT Rudee Hastie, HMCS Malahat ~

Navy and Army Reserve units from across Vancouver Island joined forces April 1-3 for Exercise Scottish Starburst in the waters around Victoria Harbour, Esquimalt Harbour, and the training areas at Albert Head and Rocky Point.

The joint exercise entailed diving and small boat operations to insert and extract troops engaged in a land-based scenario.

Participating units included HMCS Malahat, the Canadian Scottish Regiment, 39 Brigade Signals Regiment, 11 Service Regiment, 11 Field Ambulance and 5th (BC) Field Artillery Regiment.

While spring time small boat exercises – designed to provide training opportunities for members to maintain individual and collective skills – are a normal training event for Malahat, this year’s exercise was a much larger affair. With more than 100 sailors and soldiers from eight Reserve units coming to Victoria from as far away as Comox, it was a great opportunity for joint training and familiarity.

The exercise began on Friday evening with broad-scope and unit-specific briefs and drills at Malahat. This was followed by an opportunity to meet members from other units over the time honoured navy tradition of a hot bowl of soup from the galley.

On Saturday morning, the units jointly deployed by land and sea to set up a forward operations centre at Albert Head. Each unit focused on providing their specialized skills in support of the exercise.

Malahat’s boats deployed to insert Army forces into their land element scenarios. Crews then carried on with small boat and diving operations, but remained available to respond to exercise requirements such as a medical evacuation and water-borne re-supply to units at Rocky Point.

39 Signals Regiment provided communications support and 11 Field Ambulance sustained a medical evacuation scenario, both at the Operations Centre and as embedded members of the patrols.

On Sunday morning, Malahat’s boats returned to Rocky Point to transport soldiers back to Malahat.

“It was a highly successful weekend,” said Lieutenant-Commander Michael Lawless, Commanding Officer of Malahat. “It’s vital that we, as reservists in any element, keep our trade skills active and sharp. This weekend provided the opportunity to exercise our own capability, and to explore and expand our capacity for interoperability with our Army counterparts. If we are ever called upon to work together in other ways, for example to assist civil authorities in the event of a natural disaster, then the relationships forged here will help us to be most effective.”

When the exercise wrapped up, the only question that remained was what to call the end-of-exercise barbeque – an Army ‘Smoker’ or a Naval ‘Banyan’. Ultimately, as Malahat hosted the overall exercise, a ‘Banyan’ was held, which was enjoyed by all and provided an excellent finale to a great training weekend.

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