IN THE CANADIAN FORCES
WRUCK: Without Boatswains, the ship can’t sail.
I’m Petty Officer Chrissy Wruck from Aberdeen, Saskatchewan and I’m a Boatswain in the Canadian Navy.
Boatswains comprise the entire deck department of the ship’s company, and have a wider range of duties and responsibilities than anybody else onboard.
And I’m Petty Officer Scott Osborne from Little Bay East Fortune Bay, Newfoundland, and I am currently posted on board HMCS Fredericton.
OSBORNE: We’re known as professional sailors like a jack of all trades. What needs to get done gets done.
IN THE CANADIAN FORCES
WRUCK: Security at home starts overseas and international maritime security is important business 24 / 7.
Stopping drug smugglers, rescuing stranded seamen, boarding suspicious vessels – these are just a few of the tasks of the vessels of the Canadian Navy.
You’re never bored – there are so many tasks onboard ship that are required for us that keep it very interesting.
OSBORNE: What makes a good Boatswain is a guy that likes to work with his hands and doesn’t mind getting them dirty.
WRUCK: We perform preventative and corrective maintenance on all deck equipment… everything from the ship’s anchor and cable equipment to the rigging and lifesaving gear.
We lead crew members from all departments during seamanship evolutions such as replenishment at sea, entering and leaving harbour, jackstay and boat transfers of cargo and personnel, towing operations and rescues.
OSBORNE: I can remember one time, I was a RHIB driver, I had to drive over to a civilian vessel to pick up a personnel who was injured and bring them back to the ship so they could get the helicopter ready and bring him in to a civilian hospital on shore.
WRUCK: When there’s no Air Department on board, we’re trained and ready to assist in landing helicopters at sea.
We’re also small arms specialists, tasked with the storing, maintenance and the issuing of small arms to the ship’s company.
And we operate the fifty-calibre machine gun for force protection in and out of port.
Most of the Boatswain’s day is spent doing regular seamanship duties, such as watchkeeping, rope work, rigging, hull preservation and painting. And since Boatswains are in charge of coordinating all ship’s husbandry, it’s up to us to make sure everything that needs to be done gets done.
One of the best parts about being a Boatswain is being able to drive the small boats, the RHIB and the Zodiac, which we launch right from the deck of the ship.
When you’re days away from the nearest port, you realize how dependent you are on the ship and your fellow crew members.
My most rewarding deployment experience was the Persian Gulf in 2001 right after 911 happened. Our job was to stop illegal immigrants & cargo smuggling.
As a Boatswain, your military career will start the same way it does for everyone else, with the basic military qualification course, or BMQ.
Everyone entering a seafaring trade must attend the Naval Environmental Training Program or NETP.
The first phase of NETP lasts five weeks during which you’ll learn what it means to be a professional sailor.
Courses in shipboard firefighting and damage control, watchkeeping duties, as well as an introduction to the rich history and traditions that have made the Canadian Navy a respected and welcome presence in ports throughout the world.
If you’re interested in pursuing the Boatswain trade on a part-time basis, you can join the Naval Reserve.
During the second phase of your occupational training, you get into the specific duties of the Boatswain trade.
You’ll be assigned to your first ship, and a lot of the training is on the job.
This is where it really starts to get exciting.
The feeling of driving down to the waterfront for the first time, seeing your ship alongside, the ship you’re going to be working on for the next several years… there’s nothing like it!
Throughout your naval career, you’ll be presented with opportunities to engage in new tasks through Advanced and Specialty Training. Everything from Naval Boarding Party to Demolition.
OSBORNE: I was a member in the Naval Boarding Party, and it was a very good experience, going over searching different vessels and actually being part of tight knit group, 20 personnel just holding everything together to make sure that everything is safe for the other people in different countries.
WRUCK: As you progress through your career as a professional seaman, you may get a chance to share your experience with the next generation of sailors by teaching NETP.
In the Canadian Navy, the training never stops, and that’s what keeps it interesting.
The work of the Canadian Navy is vital to protect and uphold Canada’s interests and those of our allies around the world.
And Boatswains are vital to the Canadian Navy.
OSBORNE: If you want to travel the world, serve your country and be a part of a tight-knit community, join the Navy and be a Boatswain.
IN THE CANADIAN FORCES