Naval warships take to the Great Lakes

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Crowsnest - Summer 2017 / July 12, 2017

By Lieutenant (Navy) Diane Larose

For Canada’s 150th anniversary Her Majesty’s Canadian Ships (HMCS) Goose Bay and Toronto are participating in the annual Great Lakes Deployment, the Royal Canadian Navy’s (RCN) major outreach event.

A Great Lakes Deployment sees one or more ships based out of Maritime Forces Atlantic travel from their home port of Halifax to cities along the Great Lakes, giving as many Canadians as possible, who would otherwise never have the opportunity, a chance to see a warship first-hand.

These deployments take place almost every summer and have been happening in some form or another since 1959 when the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway made it possible for larger ships to travel through the locks.

Each year the cities visited by the ships changes. Typically the ships will visit major cities such as Québec City, Montréal and Toronto, in addition to many smaller communities. Previous Great Lakes Deployments have traveled as far inland as Thunder Bay, Ont. 

Even though Canada has the longest coastline in the world, most of the population lives far away from the ocean, and fewer still live near a naval base. Ships that make the journey up the Great Lakes not only demonstrate the power and scale of a warship, but also the professionalism and dedication of their sailors. Canadians will have the chance to meet many of the RCN’s best and brightest as they tour the ships and get a sneak peek inside life at sea.

The ships will be going the extra mile this year to welcome the community onboard – all in the spirit of Canada 150. Events will include tours, Indigenous welcoming ceremonies, displays about life in the RCN, and day and overnight sails for local leaders. Sailors will also travel into the communities to take part in local sporting events and even citizenship ceremonies to welcome new Canadians. As well, HMCS Toronto participated in Canada Day festivities in its namesake city.

This deployment also hopes to attract talented, diverse and dedicated individuals who may have never previously considered a career in the navy or Naval Reserve. A few lucky individuals from the Saguenay region in Québec who have already made the decision to join the Canadian Armed Forces had their enrolment ceremony at Chicoutimi’s Naval Reserve Division HMCS Champlain on the jetty next to HMCS Goose Bay. All new candidates had a tour of the ship following the ceremony.

For more information on the Great Lakes Deployment, visit the RCN Facebook page.