New recruits graduate from training bubble

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Navy News / November 17, 2020

By Peter Mallet

The Royal Canadian Navy’s first set of recruits trained under a system designed to respect COVID-19 restrictions have recently graduated and are on their way to trades training.

Late last month, 34 sailor third class recruits (S3 (R)) on the West Coast graduated from De-centralized Basic Military Qualification (BMQ) training after spending 10 weeks inside a restricted access cohort to keep them healthy and safe in the current COVID-19 environment.

The recruits were presented their graduation certificates by Commander (Cdr) Annick Fortin, Naval Fleet School (Pacific) Commandant, in a physically distanced graduation ceremony at Work Point’s Nixon Building at Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt, B.C.

“I am very proud of all of the candidates, and the staff,” said Cdr Fortin. “All those involved in this qualification process did an excellent job.”

Since family and friends were not permitted to attend due to COVID-19 restrictions, the event was streamed live on Facebook.

De-centralized BMQs are an innovative measure designed to deliver Regular Force BMQ training for the Navy in a safe, carefully planned, deliberate manner abiding by directed protective health measures to guard against the spread of COVID-19.  

BMQs are normally run through the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in St. Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que. De-centralized BMQs were developed and conducted on the East and West Coasts under the leadership of Commander Naval Personnel and Training Group in order to fulfill personnel requirements of the Fleet, while easing the pressure on the Leadership and Recruit School once training resumed after the initial COVID-19 shutdown was lifted. The Leadership and Recruit School normally trains Army and Air Force personnel in addition to members of the Navy.

The RCN’s newest sailors will soon start more specialized training in a variety of naval trades.

“I now have a great opportunity to move forward in my training. Successfully completing basic training was a big first hurdle to overcome,” said S3(R) Zackary Diletti, who is from Smithville, Ont.

The 28-year-old said the one thing he missed the most during training was his shepherd-collie mix puppy, Caboose.

S3(R) Arianna Shields-Gaetz of Grand Prairie, Alta., said pulling together as a team with the other recruits was key to the learning process and their graduation.

“I am extremely proud of this accomplishment and to be able to wear the Canadian [military] uniform. My goal now is to keep pushing forward.”

She celebrated her 22nd birthday during BMQ, and missed spending the day with her father. Instead, she led the recruits in 22 squats for each year of her life. 

Courtesy Lookout, CFB Esquimalt