Specialty qualification results in promotion, pay hike

Navy News / September 14, 2021

Peter Mallett

On Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Winnipeg’s flight deck on August 16, 2021, three Sailors 1st Class were promoted to Master Sailor by Commodore David Mazur, Commander Canadian Fleet Pacific.

While it might seem an ordinary promotion, it was anything but that as this particular event was part of the Royal Canadian Navy’s efforts to address the shortfall of Shipborne Air Controllers on warships.

Master Sailors Venkarlo Cornes, Nicholas Sanders and Shelby Andrews were promoted to their current rank after qualifying as Shipborne Air Controllers, and can now be responsible for the tactical air control of helicopters and fixed wing maritime aircraft.

Their job and title is a NATO qualification granted to combat operators from the naval trades of Naval Combat Information Operator (NCIOP), Naval Electronics Sensor Operator and Sonar Operator who complete the voluntary course.

Along with the fast-track promotion, sanctioned by the Royal Canadian Navy, comes a substantial pay hike. The goal is to entice other combat operators to follow suit and take the additional training.

“It is an effort to bolster the low numbers on board our ships with the intent to make the Shipbourne Air Controller billets more attractive to our combat operators in that they will be promoted ahead of their peers to the rank of Master Sailor,” says Chief Petty Officer 2nd Class (CPO2) Warren Beattie, Chief NCIOP with Sea Training Pacific and acting Fleet Shipborne Advanced Air Controller.

To take this course, candidates must already be members of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) and be combat operators in the above-noted trades. Combat operators can request the course once they attain the rank of Sailor 1st Class, with a recommendation from their commanding officer and career manager, says CPO2 Beattie.

He notes that the promotion and pay hike are a reward to these sailors for doing additional, stressful and highly skilled work.

The three-month course is intensive, he adds. The job itself is similar to an air traffic controller, but Shipborne Air Controllers have the added responsibility of providing tactical or radar control when pilots and their air crews are not capable of detecting threats.

Canadians interested in joining the Royal Canadian Navy can find out more here.