Western Region Naval Reservists participate in Small Boats Exercise

Western Region Naval Reservists

Naval Reservists dock their four RHIBs for a break in the action on Bowen Island, at the Western Region Small Boat Exercise in Vancouver on Feb. 11.

Lt(N) John Foster, PAO, NAVRES Western Region; with contributions from Lt(N) Donald Den, PAO, HMCS Malahat — Put 100 Naval Reservists from four provinces together to accomplish a training mission, and you will get enormous energy and enthusiasm.

A two-day small-boat exercise (SBEX) in Vancouver brought together more than 100 sailors and five boats from seven Naval Reserve Divisions (NRDs) on Feb. 11-12, including HMCS Chippawa (Winnipeg), Discovery (Vancouver), Malahat (Victoria), Nonsuch (Edmonton), Queen (Regina), Tecumseh (Calgary), and Unicorn (Saskatoon). The exercise also included partners from the Maritime Pacific Fleet Naval Intelligence.

Captain (Navy) Janet McDougall, NAVRES Western Regional Captain, said the SBEX tested the sailors’ ability to operate in various maritime scenarios.

“They are excited to be here, they are excited to practice their trade and meet Naval Reservists from other units,” she said.

The exercise involved maritime drug interdiction operations, navigation, boat handling (including towing vessels), intelligence gathering, and communication.

One of the exercise’s primary goals was to evaluate the sailors’ ability to work effectively in small boats. Sailors worked on land from HMCS Discovery in an Operations environment and in teams on the water aboard four Rigid Hull-Inflatable Boats (RHIBs) (with the fifth RHIB acting as opposing force) to achieve the scenario objectives. Each team was responsible for different aspects of the exercise. They were tasked with navigating through a series of challenging scenarios, including pursuing and boarding suspicious vessels.

The team expanded the Area of Operations to Howe Sound. On land and on water, multiple senior Non-Commissioned Members and Officers instructed junior sailors, consistently giving feedback and providing guidance in correctly approaching and handling each scenario.

Sailor Third Class (S3) Alexandra Schurtenberger, a Naval Combat Information Operator (NCIO) from HMCS Tecumseh, said she had a great time during the SBEX.

“I got to apply everything I learned. Just being on the water and seeing how the other side deals with everything has been awesome,” she said.

The SBEX was an opportunity for Western Region sailors to exercise their skills in an operations center and Intelligence and Public Affairs Officer cells. Naval Intelligence supported the exercise by providing intelligence on simulated enemy vessels and other threats the sailors might encounter. They also helped develop effective communication strategies and briefings to higher command.

Commander (Cdr) Andreas Paschke, HMCS Tecumseh’s Commanding Officer, oversaw the exercise.

“The ability to not just work with peers from other units but also to establish those connections and those networks – that is invaluable,” he said.

Cdr Cameron Miller, Commanding Officer of HMCS Malahat, said the sailors demonstrated a high level of skill and professionalism throughout the exercise, and the teams worked together effectively to complete the tasks.

“We increased our training ability and our overall capacity,” Cdr Miller said, adding that meaningful training in real-life activities engages sailors and shows how their contributions can assist in defence of Canada.

Western Region Naval Reservists

Master Sailor Lenner from HMCS Malahat walks other Western Region Naval Reservists through getting a Rigid-Hull Inflatable Boat (RHIB) ready for launch at the Western Region Small Boat Exercise at HMCS Discovery in Vancouver on Feb. 11.

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