Submariner Spotlight: CPO2 Jason Thompson

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Valerie Braunschweig
Submariners Association of Canada West, Saocwest.ca
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CPO2 Jason Thompson – Marine Electrician, Coxswain, HMCS Windsor

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What motivated you to join the Royal Canadian Navy and in particular you’re chosen trade?
I joined the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) as an electrician due to the fact I was taking a residential electrical course at Nova Scotia Community College and decided it would be more beneficial to have the navy pay for my training than myself.

When did you join the Navy?
I joined the RCN in January 1997.                                            

What submarines have you served in?
I have sailed in HMCS Ojibwa, HMCS Onondaga, HMCS Windsor, HMCS Corner Brook, and have worked on board all of the above vessels as well as HMCS Okanagan and HMCS Victoria.

What bases have you served at?
Being in the Navy I have served on both coasts during my career – CFB Halifax and CFB Esquimalt.

Describe your present role and duties as Coxswain of HMCS Windsor.
My duties and responsibilities as part of the command team are the crew, training, and discipline. As well, I am responsible for the readiness and material state of the submarine escape stores and equipment on board. 

What prepared you for this position?
I feel it is having a good relationship with the coxswains who came before me, seeing how they operated, and asking questions of them to get a better understanding of why they were doing things a certain way. I leaned on their job experience, which I now hope junior members can do with me.

What is your favorite part of the job?
That would have to be dealing with the crew. I enjoy interacting with the other departments. Originally, as an electrician I would spend the majority of my time with the MSE department and therefore wouldn’t have the pleasure of interacting with the whole submarine team on a day-to-day basis.

What is the most challenging part
of your job?
Administration. Coming from an engineering background I was definitely a hands-on person. I enjoyed dismantling machinery, troubleshooting, and then reassembling. Paperwork was always an afterthought.

What is the craziest moment that has happened on a submarine?
I have been on board for many crazy moments, but the one that comes to mind happened on a recent trip to Newfoundland. Windsor pulled into a bay off of the coast of Cape Breton and we had a swim ex in some mildly cold water, to say the least. To my knowledge we haven’t had a swim ex in quite some time, and never near the Cape Breton coastline.

Tell me what it’s like spending weeks
in an enclosed container? Can you describe that?
I have been in submarines for almost 25 years and have never had a problem with the enclosed part of the submarine. If anything I would rather be under the water where the seas are calm than on the surface when they are angry. The one thing I do miss while being underwater though is the sunshine. You can never have too much Vitamin D.

Is there a shortfall of specific trades within the submarine service?
We definitely have certain trades that are under staffed, but this isn’t just a submarine problem as the whole RCN faces similar challenges. 

If you had an opportunity to tour any submarine in the world, what country’s submarine would you choose?
As I have been on a number of American submarines for tours, I would choose something I have not seen. I believe it would be interesting to see something from the Russian Navy.

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