Triumphant return for HMCS Chicoutimi

Triumphant return for HMCS Chicoutimi

Photo by Peter Mallett, Lookout

Peter Mallett, Staff Writer ~

Holding homemade banners and signs, family and friends of HMCS Chicoutimi crewmembers waited anxiously for the submarine to appear in Esquimalt Harbour March 21, sail past Duntze Head, and come alongside A Jetty.

After that it was tears, cheers and heartfelt hugs as families were reunited, ending the historic deployment of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) submarine.

The uplifting music from the Naden Band added to the excitement and emotion.

Rear-Admiral Art McDonald, Commander Maritime Forces Pacific, described the homecoming as a “payday” and “return on investment”, not only for the RCN but also the families of the sailors.

“You can see the love, you can see the pride, and you can see the sense of accomplishment in the faces of the sailors that came off the sub,” said RAdm McDonald. “This has been a far-reaching, long, successful, and very historic deployment. What this means is we have a great tool in our toolbox that has gone places and is proven.”

The Victoria-class submarine and its crew of 59 left Esquimalt mid-September 2017 on a 197-day deployment, its first ever in the Asia-Pacific, and the first major RCN submarine deployment to the region in nearly 50 years.

The mission also marked the longest deployment of a Victoria-class submarine to date.

First across the brow was Master Seaman John Beaton who was selected in an on-board lottery to give the traditional first kiss at the homecoming to his wife Cendra Beaton. With his young daughter Ariana and son Xavier in the full embrace during the kiss, a large cheer and “hurrah” went up from the crowd.

“It was a long deployment and it’s so good to be reunited with Cendra and the kids who seemed to have grown so much since I left,” said MS Beaton. “It was my first deployment on a sub; it was a tight-knit crew in Chicoutimi. There were challenges during the deployment but overall the morale was very good.”

Also moved by the return home was Commander Stefan Ouellet, Chicoutimi Commanding Officer, who fought back tears as he declared the homecoming an “extremely proud moment.”

“I think the deployment proved we could sustain operations at sea. This platform is very robust and we were able to remain at sea and do the job of patrolling the Asia Pacific.”

Cdr Ouellet detailed the highlights of the deployment: participating in USN-JMSDF Annualex, a three week bilateral exercise with the United States Navy and the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force that was made trilateral for the first time; and the success of crossing the Pacific and returning safely, a feat, he says, that only a few nation’s navies have realized.

Chicoutimi also visited Hawaii, Guam, and Japan during the deployment. The visit to Yokosuka, Japan, was the first by a Canadian submarine since the visit by HMCS Grilse in May 1968.

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  1. Stephen Mullarky says:

    I am immensely proud of our armed forces with what they contribute at home and abroad. This mission by our HMCS Chicoutimi demonstrates her capabilities to the world as a result of her very talented crew. I also read HMCS Windsor is on a mission with our allies in Europe with her 21ST century sonar. Congratulations on a job well done. Now we must build new submarines in Canada for the 21ST century starting immediately!! WE have the money!!

    Regards Stephen Mullarky

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