WestPloy, valuable experience for naval reservists

LS Sydney Huyghe

LS Sydney Huyghe

Katelyn Moores, MARPAC PA ~

When a sailor from HMCS Chippawa spoke at a high school in Winnipeg three years ago about life in the naval reserves, one student saw a way to make some money over the summer to help pay for university.

Fast forward three years, and that student, now LS Sydney Huyghe, is thousands of nautical miles away from home on a great adventure with HMCS Vancouver.

Vancouver is on WestPloy 16, which is an opportunity for the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) to foster and sustain cooperative relationships with partner navies in the Asia-Pacific.

As a naval communicator, LS Huyghe is responsible for establishing and maintaining communications with national and allied networks, an essential element of mission coordination. It is also her department’s responsibility to advise the ship’s command on tactical signalling and ship maneuvering, as well as encoding and decoding signals.

“Sailing in Vancouver is a huge opportunity for me to sail and complete some of my training package,” she says. “It is also an incredible opportunity to travel to some amazing places.”

Since joining the warship in September, she has visited Singapore, Vietnam, Australia and New Zealand. Before she returns home in December, she will also visit Fiji and Hawaii. Not bad for her first deployment.

Although she’s been adjusting well to life at sea, she admits it can be challenging. Shift work leaves limited time for sleep. She says it’s the support of her crew mates that has helped her stay positive and meet the demands of a busy sailing schedule.

Work and play is also mixed with charitable activities. In Singapore she joined 20 other crew members at a school at the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore, playing and singing with students. In Vietnam, she helped paint buildings at a shelter for homeless children, ending the visit with a friendly soccer match with the kids.

“Travelling to other areas of the world gives you an opportunity to see life through someone else’s eyes, which is important otherwise you just end up living in a bubble,” she said. “I really felt like I was making a difference for the people we helped, and that’s a great feeling.”

LS Huyghe is one of 10 Naval Reservists that joined Vancouver in Darwin, Australia. While on WestPloy, these reserve sailors are gaining exposure to hands-on training during international operations. Termed the One Navy concept, crewing RCN ships with both Regular and Reserve Force members has proved highly successful on a number of other international operations.

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