I Saw Three Ships – Navy Days in Toronto

Canadian Navy

Image by Roozbeh Rokni via Flickr

So “the Boys” are in town for the Labour Day weekend and there are still 2 days left to see the HMS Montreal and two other ships – Canadian Royal Navy minesweepers the Shawinigan and the Summerside, close up and personal as they set anchor in Toronto Harbour as part of a big PR and recruitment program.
A guided tour around the HMS Montreal is somewhat surprising as the ships’ grey, solid, iron clad and patch painted rust exterior appears not to have changed in decades. However, the 134 metre frigate is geared up to the hilt with weapons and systems that enable the ship to detect, track and engage hostile forces and combat surface and submarine threats. High-speed diving torpedoes, surface to air missiles, medium range anti-ship missiles, heavy machine gun and a closed-in weapons system in addition to various weapon decoy systems complete this vessel’s formidable resume. The cartoon of the fiendishly grinning wolf mascot says it all – Whilst small in comparison with the many US floating naval villages, the HMCS Montreal means business.
She has been involved in campaigns against terrorism in the Gulf; counter-drugs operations in the Caribbean; sovereignty missions in the Canadian Arctic and is currently facilitating the integration of the new CH-148 Cyclone helicopter into Canada’s Naval fleet. In 2010 it took part in operation Lama, in the relief efforts following hurricane Igor. Earlier this year shet hosted the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge from Montreal to Quebec after the 2011 Royal Wedding.
Really is worth a quick visit if you’re in the Lakeshore area as they don’t berth here in an “Open to the Public” capacity that often and so there was no way I was going to miss the opportunity of wandering around (albeit in a limited fashion) a naval warship.
The big joke in my household is that every now again I MUST get “my”Forces” fix usually by way of visiting various naval ships; forts or military museums whenever the opportunity arise On reflection my fascination with all things military stem from four pivotal influences which I will attempt to explain below: OR simply skip to the end for Ship’s opening hours for what is left of this weekend!!!!
I spent many of my childhood weekends wandering around Air bases at Naval Air shows as my Parents did regular stints on St. John’s Ambulance duty. Breathing in the oil and kerosene “infused” air was like nectar to me.
My Mother regaled me with stories of crewing in the Sea Rangers and her great yen to join the Navy as a Wren.
My brother spent his school years striving to gain the necessary qualifications to become a pilot with the RAF, joining the Air Training Corp and finally arriving at RAF Biggin Hill all dewy eyed and enthusiastic and ready to take on the week-long selection process. Unfortunately he was offered Navigation Officer rather than Pilot and a dream was killed!
Two years and one broken engagement later, I also arrive all dewy-eyed and enthusiastic at RAF Biggin Hill to commence a similar week-long selection process. I had, however not gained the necessary Math O’level to apply for a commission with the RAF, so I was there applying for a Non-commissioned Officer role as an Air Loadmaster. One day into the process, I was asked to move over to the Commissioned Officer selection program – a case of being in the right place at the right time!!
Honestly they should base a reality show on the selection processes engaged by the Forces; after each of the many exercises, the candidates were given a number A or B; piled into a room and asked to sit on the left or the right according to the letter allotted them. We were then left to sweat it our for about 15 minutes, left crossing our legs; fingers and toes,not knowing whether we were on the side of the room of those that had been successful and therefore able to move onto the next set of exercises!!
That being said, Ihad such a great week of self-discovery and managed to stay the entire week without being chucked out that I was gutted to receive a rejection letter shortly after. Strange thing is that almost a year later I got another letter from the RAF offering me a “Queen’s commission” in the RAF. Blimey they must have had a bad crop of candidates that year and were scraping the barrel with border-line applicants from the year before. Didn’t take the kind offer and the rest is history. BUT every time I move amongst military personnel in uniform, I wonder what my life would have been like had I made a different decision at that time!!
Anyway- remaining Ships’ Hours:
Sept 4, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Sept. 5, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Over and Out……………….

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