Students face real emergency at sea

Photo by LCdr Erik Poirier

Photo by LCdr Erik Poirier

Lt(N) G. Alex Low ~

NCdt Belanger, a reservist from HMCS Champlain, was on watch on PCT Raven 56 practising coastal navigation, during his Naval Warfare Officer (NWO) III course, in Desolation Sound when he spotted smoke rising from the shore on East Redonda Island and immediately reported to ship staff.

On closer inspection, they saw that one of three newly built homes was engulfed in flames. Raven staff immediately notified the BC Wildfire Service and developed a plan to assist.

Raven cautiously approached the area and launched a shore reconnaissance party by zodiac with Raven ’s Medical First Responder and Cook, LS Keddy onboard. The priority was to ensure that there were no casualties or personnel unaware of the unfolding events.

With confirmed air assets from BC Wildfire Services approaching, and confirmation of no casualties, the shore party was later directed to evacuate the entire area.

As the fire and the number of boats & observers grew, Raven and her zodiac enforced a waterborne perimeter around the shore fire, enabling the airborne response, both helicopter and fixed wing assets, to the affected areas.

Awaiting the response, the crew of Raven embarked civilian personnel affected by the fire, providing them with provisions and shelter as most had been in the elements for some time.

On holidays from North Carolina, many guests documented and shared the unfolding story on social media, while others sought the air conditioning and comfort of Raven’s training room.

Raven’s encounter with a shore fire was a great introduction for young NWO trainees and Patrol Craft Training Unit staff to the dangers and responsibilities unexpectedly faced by Royal Canadian Navy personnel during standard patrols and training.

The lessons of team coordination, keeping the ship, her company, and civilian personnel safe, as well as interacting with Other Government Departments, for this shore fire on East Redonda Island will galvanize these young NWOs to always be ready to help.

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