Naval Technical Officers explore new ideas, technologies at seminar

Navy News / July 3, 2019

By Ryan Melanson

Maritime Forces Atlantic  held a two-day leadership, mentorship and networking session designed to bring members of the engineering community together to explore new and innovative ideas for moving the Navy forward, and to identify issues and concerns.

The East Coast Naval Technical Seminar was held May 29 and 30 at Tribute Tower, Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Halifax. The event is held annually on both coasts and in the National Capital Region. Historically it has been an opportunity for Naval Technical Officers (NTOs) to provide feedback, but was opened up recently to encourage and enable junior sailors and non-commissioned officers to attend and offer their input.

Topics included personnel-focused matters like the ongoing Marine Technician trade creation, career management and retention strategies for NTOs, the Naval Technical Innovation Program, demonstrations from Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC), and presentations on other topics like Arctic operations, wireless internet, and agile engineering concepts. Senior leaders attending the seminar included Commodore (Cmdre) Christopher Earl, Director General Maritime Equipment Program Management, Captain (Navy) (Capt(N)) David Benoit, Commanding Officer of Fleet Maintenance Facility Cape Scott, Capt(N) Jaques Olivier, Director Naval Platform Systems, CFB Halifax Base Commander Capt(N) David Mazur, and Base Chief, Chief Petty Officer First Class Kent Gregory, as well as others.

The seminar also brought in industry representatives, including industrial augmented reality firm Kognitiv Spark. The company recently partnered with the Royal Canadian Navy to start a test project for its Mixed Reality Remote Assistant Support system, and Operational Support Manager Devin Patterson was on hand to demonstrate the software. The goal is to use the mix of augmented and mixed reality, combined with artificial intelligence, to improve training and add efficiencies in repair and maintenance during ship operations.

Sessions and presentations took place on both days, and allowed interested members to tour the Submarine Shed, Canadian Forces Ammunition Depot Bedford, and the DRDC Dockyard Lab, as well as attend a town hall event with Cmdre Earl.

Cmdre Craig Skjerpen, Commander Canadian Fleet Atlantic, spoke to members to kick off the seminar on May 29, and encouraged attendees to make the most of the two days by networking, breaking down silos and solving problems.

“When we’re trying to find solutions to some of the challenges we have, we have to talk about some of the impediments that are in place within our organization, the things that are hindering (us) from getting to where we want to be,” said Cmdre Skjerpen.

“I’m always envious of the ability of a team of people to get together and talk about how to improve things in their area of responsibility. This seminar does a fantastic job of that.”