Sailor Profile: Lieutenant (Navy) Michael Vuongphan

Navy News / July 13, 2021

Lieutenant(Navy) (Lt(N)) Michael Vuongphan, a team leader from the Naval Tactical Operations Group (NTOG), was deployed on Operation Unifier supporting Exercise Sea Breeze 21 in Odesa, Ukraine from June 28 to July 10, 2021. Sea Breeze was a multinational annual exercise co-hosted by the United States Navy (USN) and the Ukrainian Navy (UN) with the support of NATO’s Partnership for Peace program.

Born and raised in Winnipeg, Lt(N) Vuongphan enrolled as a Naval Warfare Officer in HMCS Chippawa, that city’s Naval Reserve Division. He originally joined the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) because of the travel opportunities that come with the job and the education reimbursement benefits, but soon became immersed in his profession.

“As a reservist I had the opportunity to attend university during the school year and through the summer months I would conduct my Naval Warfare Officer occupation training,” said Lt(N) Vuongphan.

Being a team leader for NTOG presented some challenges and gratifying opportunities.

“Maintaining the skills for being a Maritime Tactical Operator and fulfilling the administrative and staff work required of a team leader are quite challenging,” said Lt(N) Vuongphan. “The most fulfilling part of my job is working in a small team environment with other like-minded, and motivated individuals,” he added.

Lt(N) Vuongphan has seen the world through the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). A seasoned sailor, he has been deployed on Operation Nanook in the Arctic in 2015, and Exercise Tradewinds in the Caribbean on board Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Shawinigan in 2016, Operation Regulus in the North and Baltic Seas on board the Japanese Ship Kashima in 2018, and Operation Reassurance in Europe on board HMCS Halifax with NTOG in 2019.

“I got to experience opportunities that I would not have been able to do on my own,” said Lt(N) Vuongphan. “I got to sail, travel and meet new people from around the world. Most of all, I gained new experiences and learned new skills,” he added.

NTOG is a full time, Regular Force unit in the RCN, comprised of both Regular Force members and Reserve Force members. It is the RCN’s Maritime Interdiction Operations (MIO) Centre of Excellence and designed to deploy globally to assist Canada’s international security partners build their capabilities, in support of Government of Canada’s Strong, Secure, Engaged defense policy.

“NTOG’s role in Exercise Sea Breeze is to represent the CAF and RCN by promoting interoperability of maritime interdiction operations tactics, techniques and procedures, and to build stronger relations with partner nations,” said Lt(N) Vuongphan. “With my team second-in-command, we form the leadership element of the team, and our role is to enable our team with the opportunities to share and learn maritime interdiction operations tactics, techniques and procedures with partner nations and to promote the RCNs MIO inter-operability capability. We’re excited to meet sailors from partner nations and develop professional relationships with them,” he noted.

Exercise Sea Breeze was about training together and making new friends based on a shared commitment to peace and stability in Europe. The deployment of personnel to support this year’s iteration of Sea Breeze is part of Operation Unifier, the CAF military training and capacity-building mission in Ukraine.

Asked about his advice to aspiring sailors, he said, “Take the time to think about what exactly you want and enjoy the journey.”