Four HMCS St. John’s Petty Officers return home

Navy News / May 14, 2019

It’s not surprising that so many Newfoundlanders serve on board the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) vessel Her Majesty Canadian Ship (HMCS) St. John’s. Currently sailing in European waters, the ship returned from a six-month deployment on Operation REASSURANCE as a part of Standing NATO Maritime Group-1 last year.

Readers may be surprised to learn, though, that Petty Officer 1st Class (PO1) Eric Franson, PO1 Justin Smith, PO1 Adam Holloway and Petty Officer 2nd Class (PO2) Mitchell Spurrell all grew up a short distance apart from each other (in Clarenville, Arnold’s Cove, Port Blandford, and Little Hearts Ease, respectively). And, while they all perform different functions on board HMCS St. John’s, they are proud of their roots northeast of the ship’s namesake city.

Each sailor has different memories and perspectives of their time in the RCN as well as while onboard “STJ.”  For instance, PO1 Franson is a marine technician electrical manager and has served on an exchange with the New Zealand Navy. PO1 Smith is a weapons engineering technician and has participated in the seizure of tonnes of illicit contraband as a member of a boarding party of a different ship. (His son was also baptized in HMCS St. John’s, so it’s fair to say STJ means a lot to him, too.)

PO1 Holloway is the ship’s chief cook, and was on numerous deployments with the East Coast Navy, including to the Black Sea, the Arabian Sea, and the Persian Gulf, mainly tracking piracy activity and drug smuggling. Lastly, PO2 Spurrell is a weapons engineering communications technician and was on a deployment in the Mediterranean Sea when the ship was redeployed to Kenya for an anti-piracy mission and tasked with escorting World Food Programme ships to Somalia.

These gentlemen have a lot of naval experience and have travelled to many interesting parts of the world, but all sailors look forward to the voyage home. After a multinational exercise and a commemoration event for the 75th anniversary of D-Day in France, it’s fair to say they’ve earned that time with friends and loved ones, whether that takes place in Halifax or back home in Newfoundland.