NORTHERN REACH strives to help Canadians learn about the RCN

Navy News / April 5, 2019

By Peter Mallett

A remote community on Vancouver Island is welcoming vessels of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) to its main harbour this weekend.

Four Orca-class Patrol Craft Training (PCT) vessels and 96 crew members will arrive alongside Small Craft Federal Marina in Port McNeill, B.C., as part of NORTHERN REACH.

Located at the northeastern tip of Vancouver Island on the Queen Charlotte Strait, the former logging town, turned summer tourism destination, has a population of approximately 3,000 residents.

Lieutenant-Commander Todd Kennedy, Commander Venture Division, says NORTHERN REACH “is a continued effort by the navy to combat the nation-wide phenomena of maritime blindness” by helping Canadians learn about their navy and the job it does on behalf of the country.

“Many Canadians know very little about their own navy or even that it exists. So, to be relevant to the population, we need to be out there and visible,” said LCdr Kennedy.

“This is an effort to showcase what we do and how we train, and to demonstrate pride in our diversity as an organization. We want people to know we are the employer of choice and if there exists a desire to contribute to Canada and its international policies, that we have a job for you.”

PCT vessels Orca, Caribou, Raven and Wolf will be staffed by fleet personnel and Venture students from the Fleet Navigating and Naval Warfare Officers courses needing the fundamental bridge skills training to prepare them for employment in operational ships.

While in the Port McNeill area, two of the vessels will take residents and community leaders to sea, showcasing interoperability with the Royal Canadian Air Force, which has tasked a maritime patrol aircraft from CFB Comox, B.C., and the Canadian Coast Guard, which has tasked a Bell 429 helicopter. The remaining two vessels will remain alongside, opening up for guided tours on March 30.

The outreach effort will also involve 20 reservists from a Canadian Ranger Patrol Group.

The Pacific Fleet Commander, Commodore Angus Topshee, is also attending the community relations event, along with representatives from the Defence Aboriginal Advisory Group.  

Lastly, a three-person forward logistics site will be established in Port McNeill to support the engagement, and Canadian Armed Forces recruiting personnel, with a navy recruiting bus, will be present to give the community insight into the navy.

The outreach effort will also involve a charitable donation by the Boomer’s Legacy Foundation, facilitated by LCdr Kennedy on behalf of Maritime Forces Pacific and the local detachment of the RCMP. They will distribute 70 knitted toques, 70 knitted dolls and two knitted blankets to a Port McNeill non-profit, the Sacred Wolf Friendship Centre in Port Hardy.

Courtesy of Lookout