HMCS Carleton: well established at Dow's Lake

LINK - April 2017 / May 31, 2017

By Fabrice Mosseray

The inauguration of a new building is a fine moment in the history of a Naval Reserve unit and represents an opportunity to renew ties with the community. Carleton's Manning Ship Ceremony, held on November 16, 2015, was marked by joy, pride and emotion. Built facing Dow's Lake, which it has dominated since the Second World War, Her Majesty's Canadian Ship (HMCS) Carleton saw the plans for its new building developed following the collapse of the roof of its parade deck under the weight of snow in 2008.

HMCS Carleton close to their hearts

This ceremony was undeniably a great moment for our Naval Reserve Commander, Commodore (Cmdre) Marta Mulkins, and then-Commanding Officer Lieutenant-Commander (LCdr) Carmen Lapointe, two women who hold HMCS Carleton close to their hearts. Cmdre Mulkins, who reviewed the ship's company, not only joined Carleton in the 1980s as a diesel mechanic, but also took command of the unit from 2013 to 2014. The crew can boast of being led by the first woman in our Navy to have commanded a warship. Showing unparalleled enthusiasm and illuminated by the warmest of smiles, she spearheaded operations relating to the demolition of the main building and the reconfiguration of the surviving HMCS Carleton building, all the while maintaining the unit's standard of training. On taking command, she had asked the crew to show flexibility and innovation while awaiting the opening of the new building. In her November speech, she noted, "Great minds from the colleges and universities of Ottawa enrolled here, in the Navy. I have spent most of my career with Carleton, and my thoughts go out to those men and women who served, who trained and who forged strong bonds of friendship over the years in these old buildings that now exist only in our imaginations and our memories. I am pleased to bring into this new era a cutting-edge building that will honour its operational vocation."

For LCdr Carmen Lapointe, this ceremony marked the completion of a project to which she had given her all, devoting uncounted time and energy.

The most poignant moment of the ceremony was undoubtedly the vibrant Hip, Hip, Hurray given by the ship's company from the mezzanine overlooking the parade deck and audience. This heartfelt cry did not fail to move the 200 guests, who included former commanding officers (CO) and coxswains, Admiral Buck, Captain (Navy) Marin and Cmdre (Ret) R. Baugniet. At the command of LCdr Lapointe, the crew grasped the mezzanine railing, which took the place of the ship's guard-rail, a gesture symbolizing taking charge of a new ship. She then declared, "We honour those who have served HMCS Carleton, and we will attend to the training of the sailors of tomorrow. This new building offers the facilities that sailors will truly need to maintain their skills and abilities and thus enable them to take part in naval operations both domestically and abroad." A dinner and dance wound up the ceremony. Seeing our recruits share the dance floor with the former members who enrolled in the 1960s and '70s was a treat for the eyes.

Departures with Dignity

In the year that has followed the inauguration, Carleton marked numerous departures with dignity, including those of Lieutenant (Navy) (Lt(N)) C. Hough and the jovial Chief Petty Officer 2nd class (CPO2) P. Frazier. And that extremely fine individual Petty Officer 1st class (PO1) Yan McCandless left us with great humility. Last November, five more departures were celebrated. Our Commanding Officer, LCdr M. J. Zandliet, took the opportunity to express the surprise and joy he felt on discovering the unit's strong team spirit. CPO 2 Dean Boettger, who distinguished himself as coxswain, took part in organizing the celebration for the centennial of our Navy. He had the honour of presenting the Centennial Bell to the Senate. We will also greatly miss CPO 2 Joy Gillis for her enthusiasm and great stories of cooking on training craft such as the Porte-class gate vessels. She was moved to receive a Canadian ensign that had flown over HMCS Oriole, our Navy's sail training vessel on which she had had the good fortune to serve. Then came the turn of the author of these lines. Kept at the rank of Leading Seaman since 1993 for medical reasons, I leave behind a historical heritage: Carleton now has a ship's book (1923 to the present) and well stocked commemorative displays. Petty Officer 2nd class (PO2) Julie Soogree and I have made good use of the unit's thousand artifacts, some one hundred uniforms and approximately 3,500 photographs. And I have donated my naval collection of nearly 300 pieces. At the ceremony, mention was made of my record contribution of 60 articles to the Naval Reserve LINK since 1993.

Then on November 26, 2016, the unit celebrated the departure of Commander (Cdr) Evan Boettger, who took up command of Carleton in 1998. His record is impressive. After serving as CO of Port Security Unit 3 (PSU3) in 2003, he deployed to Afghanistan in 2010 and South Sudan in 2012. Having served on the FORT STEELE and Porte-class training vessels, our former Executive Officer (2011-2013) LCdr Daniel Haché was Executive Officer and then CO of PSU3 from 2002 to 2008.

In its brand new stone frigate, HMCS Carleton continues to maintain with honour our Navy's presence in the National Capital and demonstrate its ability to deal effectively with the challenges the future holds. Exercises RIDEAU GUARD 2016 and 2017, marked by success, have illustrated this.