Backgrounder: Future naval training system

The mission of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) is to generate combat-capable, multipurpose maritime forces that support Canada’s efforts to participate in security operations anywhere in the world. Our training system is key to achieving a maritime force that is capable of effectively accomplishing this mission.

The RCN is in the midst of the most intensive and comprehensive period of fleet modernization and renewal in its peacetime history. As such, our training systems are also adapting to address the challenges our operators will face as they transition to these new vessels.

RCN sailors must be able to adapt and react with agility and therefore must be trained in a system that remains responsive to a dynamic maritime environment. Advances in training technology have enabled the creation of a new and innovative training system that better suits our needs.

In 2012, the Naval Training System Transformation initiative was created to design the future naval training system, a system that would be more cost effective, relevant and capable of meeting the demands of the 21st century. Since the new design was approved in July of 2015, the RCN has begun the transition to a new training system that is characterized by the following objectives:

  • training that better leverages technological solutions, including simulators and online learning tools;
  • training that recognizes the importance of face-to-face mentoring and supervision to educate new members on naval culture;
  • training that is delivered at the point and time of need, and in a member’s geographical location, to the greatest extent possible;
  • training that reduces the need for and duration of training by implementing improved performance principles and techniques;
  • training material that can be reconfigured to optimize the use of training assets across all elements;
  • a training organization that is focused on management and processes with proper performance measurements in place;
  • modernized infrastructure that promotes efficiency and enables greater flexibility in the delivery of training and the adoption of modern training methodologies;
  • training that utilizes partnerships within and outside of the RCN; and
  • a system that is both affordable and sustainable.

With these objectives in mind, the new system is designed to be sustainable and flexible while integrating the heritage, ethos and leadership philosophy of the RCN to produce a world-class training system.

An excellent example of the increased sustainability of the new system can be found in its modernized infrastructure model. The RCN currently conducts training in 80 different buildings spread over 24 locations across Canada, but the new system will reorganize the current model into a more efficient campus model with a headquarters, two campuses (Campus Halifax and Campus Esquimalt) and training sites as required. This new concept builds upon a model already being used by Canadian universities and colleges which consolidates all training into one environment with shared infrastructure and support services.

To further increase efficiency and maximize benefit, the new training system will utilize technology and work with industry, academia and allied nations to enhance the system’s ability to generate highly interoperable forces capable of working in complex joint and coalition operations.

Increasing the use of technology enabled learning generally leads to a 10-30% reduction in overall training time. As the system transitions to the new model, investments in new technology, courseware and infrastructure will be necessary, but savings in overall program costs are expected once the system is established.

Although the training system is changing, live exercises at sea will continue to play a critical role in maintaining operational effectiveness. Lessons learned throughout the transition process will be used to continuously improve the system.

The changes to the Naval Training System are in line with the wider Defence Renewal initiative currently being undertaken by the Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces. This renewal encompasses the efforts of The Defence Team – civilian and military personnel combined - to minimize inefficiency, streamline business processes and maximize the operational results delivered for Canada and Canadians. It focuses on clear accountability and process improvements, while encouraging a stronger culture of innovation.

Through Defence Renewal, the modern, first-class military envisioned in the Government’s Canada First Defence Strategy can continue to be delivered and the operational excellence for which Canada’s military is known can be sustained.