HMCS Malahat introduces life at sea to new recruits and divers

LINK - April 2017 / May 31, 2017

By SLt Rudee Gaudet, HMCS Malahat

In a mid-January weekend, members of Victoria's Naval Reserve Division, Her Majesty's Canadian Ship (HMCS) Malahat took advantage of the mild west coast climate by going to sea onboard Patrol Craft Training (PCT) Grizzly. It was the second sailing opportunity for Malahat sailors to refresh skills and introduce new members of the unit to life at sea in an Orca Class vessel since the training year started in September.

Grizzly departed Esquimalt Harbour Saturday morning, crossed into U.S. waters and spent Saturday evening in Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, Washington. Among the 23 sailors on board for the weekend training were five of HMCS Malahat's newest recruits, going to sea for the first time in a naval vessel. Training weekends are always jam-packed with events to maximize the sailors' opportunity to keep their skills sharp, and this weekend was no different.

By working through diver training, man overboard exercises, engineering drills and a simulated fire exercise, the new recruits had a solid idea of what to expect as they progress through their training in the coming months. On the bridge, a junior Maritime Surface and Sub-surface (MARS) Officer was working under the supervision of an experienced MARS Officer, who provided mentoring and tested his knowledge of emergencies, seamanship, ship-handling and navigation.

"I am keen to take every opportunity to get junior sailors to sea," said Lieutenant-Commander Michael Lawless, Commanding Officer HMCS Malahat. "The mandate of the Naval Reserve is to generate trained individuals and teams for Canadian Armed Forces operations. Training weekends at sea provide real-world experience, establishing a foundation of skills, which are further built upon throughout the year in classrooms and simulators."

For one recent recruit, Leading Seaman Christine Gatherum, a highlight of the weekend was the diver training. Gatherum, a former Artillery Sergeant and Afghanistan Veteran loved diving so much that she transferred into the Naval Reserve as a Port Inspection Diver. "The dive training and learning some new seamanship skills was amazing, but my favorite part of going to sea for the first time was the 10 a.m. soup," said Gatherum. "What a wonderful navy tradition!"

PCT Grizzly with its Malahat crew embarked, departed Friday Harbor on Sunday morning, sailed through the San Juan Islands and crossed the international border enroute to Esquimalt. As Grizzly returned home, morale among the crew was buoyed by ideal weather conditions, while the majority of Canada remained in the grips of a deep winter freeze, the crew enjoyed calm seas and temperatures relatively balmy at around plus five degrees Celsius.

With another productive training weekend successfully completed, the Malahat crew were already looking ahead to their next sailing opportunity.