RCN personnel work alongside Spanish counterparts

Navy News / November 15, 2016

By Sub-Lieutenants Jeffery Vey, Robin Grant and Alaina Wade

Twenty-two Canadians joined the crew of ESPS Patiño, a Spanish auxiliary ship that has been providing replenishment support to the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN), on September 12, 2016.

The Canadian contingent included representatives from a variety of trades including boatswains, naval equipment systems operators, electricians, a medical technician, and maritime surface and sub-surface officers. The Canadians worked alongside their Spanish counterparts and learned about life on board the Spanish tanker by participating in a variety of seagoing evolutions.

The first significant task for the Spanish sailors and their new crew of eager RCN guests came with Exercise CUTLASS FURY 16. This Canadian-led multinational exercise provided a number of training opportunities for the Canadian sailors on board ESPS Patiño, particularly in regards to replenishments-at-sea (RAS). The Canadians were highly involved with these evolutions, learning and assuming various roles. Aside from learning how to properly set up and conduct a RAS, members worked alongside their Spanish colleagues, standing watches and lending a hand in general maintenance on board.

Once CUTLASS FURY came to an end, it was not long before ESPS Patiño and the ship’s multinational crew were back at sea, this time for Exercise SPARTAN WARRIOR 16.  With more experience at their backs, the ship and its crew proved to be an integral component of the RCN Task Group as it trained off the coast of Halifax and made its way south along the U.S. eastern seaboard. A particular highlight of this trip was conducting a stern RAS with HMCS Montréal, a skill that is not frequently practised in the RCN.

Apart from adapting to different ship schedules and learning basic Spanish to communicate with their new co-workers, everyone involved was afforded the opportunity to see how a high value unit such as a tanker conducts operations in a variety of situations, including anti-air and submarine defence, sailing in formation, air operations, boarding party operations and RAS.

CUTLASS FURY and SPARTAN WARRIOR saw the Canadian and Spanish sailors bond at sea and ashore, with many members socializing during our port visits. The Canadians played the role of tour guide and cultural advisor, showing the Spanish sailors some of our iconic ports on the East Coast, from St. John’s to Halifax, extending further south to Norfolk, Va., and Mayport, Fla. 

The Captain and crew of the ESPS Patiño provided an excellent training platform for the RCN as the Atlantic fleet awaits the interim auxiliary oiler replenishment’s completion. Their hospitality and professionalism was second to none, and new friendships were forged. Those who were able to partake in CUTLASS FURY and SPARTAN WARRIOR are thankful for the opportunity to work alongside our Spanish allies, and are in agreement that such opportunities are invaluable in strengthening bonds with our neighbors across the Atlantic.