Your Navy Today - May 2020

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OPERATIONS UPDATE

HMCS Fredericton

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HMCS Fredericton navigates the Strait of Bonifacio.

As HMCS Fredericton resumes at-sea operations, we reflect on the loss of our shipmates

It has been approximately one month since the tragic loss of our six shipmates. Our thoughts remain fixed on our navy and air force families and all those touched by the loss of Stalker 22. While our hearts remain heavy, they also swell with pride as the tremendous team embarked in Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Fredericton demonstrates exceptional resiliency back at sea – carrying on with their important mission.

“…The entire air force and navy family, continues to offer our deepest condolences, love and support to the families, friends and loved ones of all those affected by this devastating loss,” said Vice-Admiral Art McDonald, Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN), and Lieutenant-General Al Meinzinger, Commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force in their joint statement.

In the immediate aftermath, both Commanders offered “…thanks to those involved in search efforts and in particular our NATO partners operating in the area.”

The incident serves as a difficult reminder of the sacrifice that our brave men and women face daily while defending and representing our nation, both at home and abroad. It also serves to remind us all how dangerous even routine operations at sea and in the air can be. In the face of these realities, the sailors and aviators aboard navy frigates operate as one team – one family – a family that mourns together.

In late May we took solace in news that the joint RCN-United States Navy recovery operations had located a portion of the fuselage and remains in the vicinity of the wreckage. After eight days, on June 2, the decision was made to conclude the recovery operation.

Since that time, HMCS Fredericton has resumed at-sea operations supporting NATO assurance and deterrence measures as part of Op REASSURANCE. The ship left Standing NATO Maritime Group (SNMG) 2 for SNMG 1 on May 16.

As we continue to come to terms with this tragedy, we remain committed to supporting the families of Master Corporal Matthew Cousins, Sub-Lieutenant Abbigail Cowbrough, Captain Kevin Hagen, Captain Brenden Ian MacDonald, Captain Maxime Miron-Morin, and Sub-Lieutenant Matthew Pyke. They are gone, but never forgotten.

VAdm Art MacDonald

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Vice-Admiral Art McDonald, Commander Royal Canadian Navy

RCN Business Resumption message from Vice-Admiral Art McDonald

Shipmates, the RCN is Ready to Resume Activities. Bravo Zulu to all of you, you have all shined in these unprecedented times! As you know, after weeks of a quite restrictive posture, across Canada, measures are beginning to be relaxed and work, including some on-premises work, is resuming. I want to ensure you know that the RCN will begin to do this too – very deliberately and incrementally over the coming weeks. Just as provinces and regions have been impacted differently by COVID-19 and have recovered at different paces, the re-opening of our institutions will be asymmetric across the department and indeed across the navy, which will vary from coast to coast, between units, and, indeed, by workspaces.

HMCS Regina

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Logistics team loads provisions for the crew of HMCS Regina on May 7.

HMC Ships return alongside, but remain ready to help on Op LASER

Under Op LASER, the RCN prepared a number of ships and personnel to be ready on order to provide a leading force to assist civil authorities mitigate the impacts of COVID-19, as well as protect Canadians from natural disasters and other unforeseen threats. Five warships were sent to sea as part of these efforts. 

On the West Coast, our ships conducted Task Group training during this period, while on the East Coast, our ships visited areas they rarely get to see, helping to reassure community members that the RCN was standing by to assist, if required.  

As of May 22, with conditions improving across the country, our ships returned to a normal readiness posture, enabling most to proceed alongside so our sailors could enjoy some well-earned rest with families and loved ones. The ships remain ready to assist civil authorities for pandemic or other missions if called upon.

HMCS Ville de Québec

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Crew of HMCS Ville de Québec lowers a rigid-hulled inflatable boat near the Confederation Bridge between New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.

HMCS Ville de Québec trains with USS Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group

From May 26 to June 1, HMCS Ville de Québec participated in a bi-lateral cooperative deployment that consisted of anti-submarine warfare and air defence serials in the Western Atlantic with United States Ship (USS) Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group.

The Strike Group is comprised of a flag ship, the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman and the embarked squadrons of Carrier Air Wing 1, and the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy.

The RCN routinely conducts international maritime training with allies and like-minded partner nations. Joint training strengthens ties and understanding amongst global partners, aids in capacity building, and helps improve our ability to successfully work together on multinational operations and missions.

BATTLE OF THE ATLANTIC

BOA commemorative celebrations a virtual success

On May 3, the RCN, along with Canadians across the country, virtually commemorated the 75th anniversary of the end of the Battle of the Atlantic (BOA) and the sacrifices made by thousands of Canadians who fought from 1939-1945 during the longest campaign of the Second World War.

On social media, Canadians shared their stories of the sacrifice made by family and friends in answering the call of duty. Vice-Admiral Art McDonald, Commander of the RCN, and Command Chief Petty Officer 1st Class David Steeves conducted a ceremonial wreath-laying at the National War Memorial in Ottawa. As well, HMC Ships on both coasts marked the day by hosting ceremonies of their own and by steaming in formation, while the Stadacona Band of Maritime Forces Atlantic performed a special rendition of “Heart of Oak” on social media.

AB Harrison Stumpf

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AB Harrison Stumpf (right) poses for a photo with his mother and his brother Harold “Big H” Stumpf.

Battle of the Atlantic Heroes: Able Seaman Harrison “Little H” Stumpf

My father, Able Seaman (AB) Harrison “Little H” Stumpf, was one of thousands of Canadians who answered the call during the Second World War and participated in a number of ways throughout the Battle of the Atlantic.

He joined the fight because his family could not afford to support him. With four siblings still at home, he would send money back to support his family during the financially difficult time of the 1940s.

But it wasn’t just the money. It was also the possibility for danger, romance and adventure that appealed to him as it did to so many young people at the time.

William Bruce Wetherall

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William Bruce Wetherall

Battle of the Atlantic Heroes: William Bruce Wetherall

My father, William Bruce Wetherall, served in the Canadian Merchant Navy from 1941-45. For six long years the RCN, the Canadian Merchant Navy and the Royal Canadian Air Force were central participants in what was to be known as the Battle of the Atlantic.

He lived on the family farm with his mother and step-father in Waterdown, Ont., when the Second World War broke out. The only family challenges at the time, he said, were to keep everyone fed and clothed during war time.

When Dad was the ripe age of 17, he lied about his age and tried to join the RCN in Hamilton, Ont.

FEATURE STORIES

LCdr Desmond Piers

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LCdr Desmond Piers

Royal Canadian Navy ships tried to capture U-boat after prison break

You might think the following events took place in an elaborate spy novel.

But they actually happened.

In the fall of 1943, German U-boat captains attempting to escape from a prisoner of war camp in Ontario led the RCMP directly to a rendezvous site on the northern shore of New Brunswick.

Warships of the RCN, under the command of Lieutenant-Commander (LCdr) Desmond Piers, waited quietly nearby for a U-boat to surface and attempt the rescue of its compatriots.

Thomas Simpson

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Thomas Simpson, right, receives the Distinguished Service Medal from British Field Marshal Harold Alexander in 1946.

Radar operator saved hundreds of lives by locating U-boat

It was at 3 a.m. on March 7, 1945, when Thomas Simpson picked up a radar contact in St. George’s Channel, between Wales and Ireland. The weather was good and the sea was calm.

He immediately alerted HMCS La Hulloise’s officer of the watch, who acknowledged the contact but dismissed it as a navigational buoy.

Simpson went back to his post but again picked up the same contact, which he said was “two pips off the port beam.” He made a second radar report to the officer of the watch, who again dismissed it, stating that it was not possible for a U-boat to be so close to the coast. The charts clearly marked a buoy in that location. He told Simpson he was “seeing gremlins” and to continue his sweep.

The captain of La Hulloise, LCdr John Brock, hearing the verbal confrontation from his cabin below the bridge, came up top to find out what the problem was. Simpson, worried the convoy and escort ships were in imminent danger, told the captain of his first and second contact reports and how the officer of the watch had ignored them.

By this time, the ship’s sonar operator had also gained contact on the same bearing.

Brock ordered the ship brought around to head in the direction of the buoy. Some 100 yards from it, the captain ordered the 20-inch searchlight to pinpoint it in the darkness.

A periscope and snorkel came into view.

SPECIAL REPORTS

Dive back in: RCN skilled re-enrollment now available

The RCN is actively seeking to re-enroll former sailors who were fully trained in an RCN occupation and continue to meet enrollment requirements.

In an effort to reduce wait times, the Canadian Armed Forces Recruiting Group (CFRG) has streamlined the re-enrollment process for previous Regular Force skilled applicants. Anyone considering coming back to the RCN should fill out an application and CFRG will work to expedite your re-enrolment.

The RCN is currently looking for former sailors with experience in the following occupations:

A skilled applicant processing team is standing by to expedite your file.

Apply online today at: http://www.forces.ca

SPOTLIGHT ON SAILORS

AB (ret’d) Ron Bath

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AB (ret’d) Ron Bath, left.

Meet Able Seaman (retired) Ron Bath. He received France’s highest order of merit, the Legion of Honour, from Consul General of France Philippe Sutter for his involvement in numerous beach landings in Normandy on June 6, 1944, and the days that followed.

AB Yukii Li

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AB Yukii Li

Meet Able Seaman Yukii Li. After growing up around the arts, she went to school to pursue a career in fashion. Due to difficulties in the job market, and at the suggestion of her father, she decided to follow in her uncle’s footsteps and join the Naval Reserve.

GETTING SOCIAL

VIDEOS OF THE MONTH

PHOTOS OF THE MONTH

Special Announcements

New! Battle of the Atlantic Challenge

Looking to get out and cycle throughout the spring and summer months? Why not sign up now to participate in our 2020 Battle of the Atlantic Challenge!

In lieu of physical community events, the Navy Bike Ride will be conducting the Battle of the Atlantic Challenge, a virtual and free event that encourages members, families, friends and their communities to go out and cycle. Whether indoors or outdoors, we are inviting cyclists to get out and ride, all while respecting the rules of social distancing and maintaining the health and safety of individuals and their communities.

The goal is for participants across the country to cumulatively conduct 25,000 rides between June 13 and August 30, in honour of the 25,000 voyages made by Canadian naval and Merchant Navy forces during the Second World War’s Battle of the Atlantic 75 years ago.  In doing so, participants will also be able to qualify for prizes.

Registration is free and can be completed via our website.