PETTY OFFICER 2nd CLASS JOANNE HARLOFF: I’m Petty Officer 2nd Class Joanne Harloff, from Niagara Falls, Ontario, a Marine Technician posted to Naval Fleet School Atlantic in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
LEADING SEAMAN JEFF DUBINSKY: And I’m Leading Seaman Jeff Dubinsky from Duncan, B.C., a Marine Technician currently serving onboard HMCS Vancouver.
NARRATOR: Our ships and submarines deploy on operations both here at home and internationally. And on every one of those vessels you’ll find Marine Technicians.
HARLOFF: We talk about ships having to move, to fight and to float. As a Marine Technician, we’re in charge of move the ship and float the ship.
NARRATOR: The marine system’s engineering department is responsible for propulsion, the whole superstructure of the ship, and mechanical systems, as well as piping systems, HVAC, sewage treatment, damage control and firefighting equipment, electrical power generation and distribution, and control systems.
HARLOFF: You’ll have a rounds-person look around and just monitor the machinery. We talk to that as just our preventive maintenance on machinery, so just watching and seeing how it’s operating. You also then would have personnel that are in the machinery control room – they’ll be watching the machinery run remotely. And they’ll be directing that rounds-person on certain machinery that may not be running correctly. While one person is doing rounds, there’s other members that will be doing general maintenance on machinery that has to be done. Husbandry within there, definitely oil changes come up with a lot of our machinery, so groups of them will go do maintenance sections.
NARRATOR: This trade is a good fit for the kind of person who’s energized by troubleshooting and problem solving, and working with equipment and tools. Although a strong academic background in math and physics will serve you well, you’ve got to be ready to get your hands dirty. You’ll need the confidence to approach and tackle problems as they arise, even if it’s a situation you’ve never faced before. It’s a challenging trade both physically and mentally, but if you enjoy working with your hands, problem solving and have a passion for life at sea, then a career as a Marine Technician in the Royal Canadian Navy might be just the thing for you.
HARLOFF: On the ship there’s always something going on and something exciting that’s happening that you can always go view and see. I’ve listened to whales underwater, just because I’m onboard and they say: “Hey! Come check this out, it’s really cool!” I’ve fired 50-cal machine guns even though it’s not my job, you still get that opportunity to shadow somebody else and see different trades that are available to the Navy.
DUBINSKY: My favourite thing to do is welding and fabricating throughout the ship. It allows me the opportunity to get creative and do jobs that I really like to do.
HARLOFF: You’re always learning something new as technology and engineering practices change, and engineering changes in general – well, the Navy is staying in front of that.
DUBINSKY: Every day there’s a different job to do in different areas of the ship. So there’s always an opportunity for me to learn more about the ship, as well as get further training on those pieces of equipment.
DUBINSKY: It’s a part of my duties to be a member of the ship’s dive team. I get to jump off the back of the ship, or jump out of helicopters to pull people that have fallen overboard out of the water. Or I do hull inspections and surveys with other members of the team and make sure everything mechanically is running sound underwater.
NARRATOR: Once they complete their training, Marine Technicians will spend a good part of their career aboard ships in either Esquimalt, B.C. or Halifax, Nova Scotia.
HARLOFF: Alongside in port, it’s a normal working day, Monday to Friday, 8 till 4 PM. I go home; I have a husband and child at home that I go to after work, so it’s still a normal everyday life.
DUBINSKY: At sea, we can work a variety of shifts, usually totalling about 12 hours a day, working from being into the engine spaces to working on different systems around the ship.
NARRATOR: Sometimes Marine Techs have to work outside of their normal routine to get the job done. They’ll be involved in ship duties like refuelling at sea, bringing stores on board, or standing watch.
HARLOFF: We also fall into a regular ship’s schedule, assisting other departments on the ship; normal cleaning of the ship, because you have over 200 people living onboard a frigate, it’s just like a floating city. With the Royal Canadian Navy, we spend a lot of time training for situations where we pretend that something’s actually happening. But as a Marine Technician you actually fix things. You actually get to see the end result.
DUBINSKY: In the last year I’ve been to multiple different ports in Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh, Singapore. Those are the memories and those are the experiences that I value most from this job.
HARLOFF: As a young person starting out, I spent thousands of dollars backpacking through Europe, running into the same people in three different ports I was in, three different countries I went to that were doing it with the Navy. You can see the world while they pay you and while you train to get a career. It’s not just a job, you get a full career out of it.