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Naval Communicator

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Overview

Naval Communicators establish and manage all external voice, radio-teletype and data circuits, and provide real-time tactical information in support of operations.

Naval Communicators establish and maintain communications with national and allied networks over radio frequencies required for mission coordination, using tactical line-of-sight, long-range and satellite communications. It is also their responsibility to advise Command on tactical signaling and ship maneuvering, encoding/decoding of signals and dissemination of tactical and maneuvering signals. Their primary duties include:

  • Radio-teletype
  • Computer networking
  • Satellite, tactical voice and visual communications
  • Classified and unclassified computer networks
  • Computer-based message processing network
  • Radio communication control systems
  • Cryptographic and satellite equipment in support of high speed data and imagery exchanges
Transcript

TITLE:

NAVAL COMMUNICATOR

IN THE CANADIAN FORCES

LEADING SEAMAN ALIX BOVAIR: I’m Leading Seaman Alix Bovair from Ottawa, Ontario – I’m a Naval Communicator based out of Esquimalt, British Columbia.

No matter the mission, Naval Communicators, or Nav Comms, enable everyone onboard Canadian warships and submarines to achieve their goals by providing timely communications with other ships and headquarters. 

BOVAIR: As a Naval Communicator, we have 3 primary jobs on board.  One of which is electronic communications down in the Communications Control Room. Another is working with primary IT systems onboard and troubleshooting them, and the third is working right here on the bridge with various radio communications to communicate with other ships and units ashore.

On the bridge, Naval Communicators handle the voice circuits with the other ships, advising the ship’s captain or officer of the watch on tactical signalling and fleet manoeuvring exercises, where the ship has to turn in sync with the task group. This requires precise movements and quick judgment to keep the ship on track.

BOVAIR: You’re taking in all the signals from other ships, other units, and you are relaying that to the officers of the watch and the people who need to know where we’re going and what we’re doing and how we’re getting there – and that’s kind of our job, to be the middleman of that.

Whenever the bridge kind of gets wild and there’s a lot going on and people are running around and everything gets really loud… it’s really cool just to get in the moment and roll with it. 

You need to be able to talk in front of a lot of people – the commanding officer is on the bridge, there are a lot of important people up here and you have to be able to make your voice heard among that because what we’re relaying is really important information.

In the Communications Control Room, Naval Communicators handle all long-range radio and satellite communications and manage the information technology capabilities of the ship. They are also responsible for cryptographic operations and security for all networks onboard ship.


BOVAIR: The coolest part of the job from my perspective is when we’re on the bridge. I love radio communications and relaying messages from other ships to the officer of the watch. Having that presence on the bridge is something I really enjoy and I really thrive in that busy, pressured environment.

Naval Communicators also enable every sailor onboard to connect with the world through personal internet and email access, as well as regular satellite telephone calls home to friends and family. This improves the quality of life onboard and boosts morale on long deployments.

BOVAIR: We work with all the communication systems onboard essentially, so one of the really important parts of that is the internet. That can work through the tactical side of things – we use that for messaging systems – but it also works through… people can use that to contact their families and email back home, so it’s really important for us to keep that up and running.

After completing their initial training, Naval Communicators are assigned to a ship in either Halifax, Nova Scotia or just outside Victoria, B.C. Their first posting lasts two to three years where they put their training into practice and integrate into the ship’s company.

BOVAIR: The biggest challenge as a Naval Communicator is being able to have your hands in 3 baskets at once – because we do IT, we do electronic radio communications, and we do actual VHF voice radio communications. And to try to be able to master all 3 is really challenging.  You’re like a jack of all trades when it comes to that.

A typical day at sea for any sailor can include practical experience and team training such as simulated fire, flood or medical emergencies called “damage control”, that involve the entire ship’s company.

Nav Comms also have duties such as watchkeeper or sentry, line handler on the main deck, and as a ship-hand when entering or leaving port. They may also be assigned to take part in search and rescue activities, force protection, and mid-ocean replenishment operations. 

When not on duty, sailors have time to exercise and relax with colleagues.

Opportunities to advance include specialty training in advanced computer networking technologies, and cryptographic equipment, as well as the opportunity to become part of the ship’s dive team or boarding party.

BOVAIR: I joined the Navy to get the opportunity to travel, see the world, and do that as a part of my daily job. There’s an immense amount of opportunity for travel with the Navy – I like to refer to it as appetizers instead of full meals, because you’ll be in a port for a couple of days and then you have to go again, and then you’re in a different port. So you kind of get a little bit of a taste for them but not a full experience, but it’s really cool because you can hand-select where you want to go back to eventually.

 

TITLE:

NAVAL COMMUNICATOR

IN THE CANADIAN FORCES

Work environment

While on board ships, Naval Communicators experience the unique adventures and challenges that come with work at sea, such as rough waters and shift-work. They work primarily in the Communications Control Room, Operations Room, on the bridge and the flag deck.

As with all sea-going personnel, Naval Communicators work with their fellow shipmates in out-of-occupation duties such as watchkeeper or sentry, act as a line handler for replenishment at sea, and as a ship-hand for entering and leaving harbour. They participate in Search and Rescue events and man-overboard emergencies, act as a member of the ship’s emergency response team for security watches, and routinely perform ship maintenance and repairs. If necessary, a Naval Communicator may serve as a member of the Naval Boarding Party in order to inspect the cargo of suspect vessels and detain the vessel’s crew during inspections.

When employed ashore, Naval Communicators work in office-like conditions in a high-security environment, typically a restricted-access communications facility. They may work in a wider variety of duties such as providing communications support to ships and shore establishments, performing duties to assist in the communications flow in Naval Radio Stations, or employed as instructors in Recruit, Leadership or Communication Schools.

Basic Military Qualification

The first stage of training is the Basic Military Qualification course, or Basic Training, held at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec. This training provides the basic core skills and knowledge common to all trades. A goal of this course is to ensure that all recruits maintain the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) physical fitness standard; as a result, the training is physically demanding.

Learn more about Basic Training here.

Basic occupational qualification training

Naval Communicators attend the Canadian Forces Fleet School in Esquimalt, British Columbia or Halifax, Nova Scotia, for approximately 29 weeks. Training includes:

  • Communications security
  • Information Systems Security
  • Basic communication procedures, such as:
    • Basic radio theory and computer skills
    • A Plus and Network Plus Curriculum
    • Keyboarding and Message processing
    • Frequency Management
    • Operating Radio Communication Equipment
    • Fleet Maneuvering

Available specialty training

Naval Communicators may be offered the opportunity to develop specialized skills through formal courses and on-the-job training, including:

  • Maritime semi-automatic exchange basic operator
  • Military aeronautical communications
  • Naval boarding party
  • Basic submarine qualification
  • Ship’s team diver
  • Instructional techniques
  • Ship’s coxswain

Available advanced training

As they progress in their career, Naval Communicators who demonstrate the required ability and potential will be offered advanced training. Available courses include:

  • Computer operation (message handling)
  • Local area network administrator
  • Advanced cryptography
  • Communications policy directive planning and implementation
  • Tactical communication plan preparation and execution
  • Communications security
  • Information systems security
  • Frequency management
  • Advanced fleet tactical manoeuvring
  • Leadership and management courses

Specific Navy training

Naval recruits attend the Canadian Forces Fleet School either in Esquimalt, British Columbia, or Halifax, Nova Scotia, for approximately five weeks. Training includes the following topics:

  • Naval history and organization
  • Shipboard firefighting and damage control
  • Shipboard Safety
  • Watchkeeping duties
  • Seamanship

Required education

The minimum required education to apply for this position is the completion of the provincial requirements for Grade 10 or Secondaire IV in Quebec. Foreign education may be accepted.

Direct entry options

Now hiring: we are now accepting applications for this job through direct entry.

Serve with the Reserve Force

This position is available for part-time employment with the Primary Reserve at certain locations across Canada. Reserve Force members usually serve part time at an Air Force Wing in their community, and may serve while going to school or working at a civilian job. They are paid during their training. They are not posted or required to do a military move. However, they can volunteer to move to another base. They may also volunteer for deployment on a military mission within or outside Canada.

Part time employment

Naval Communicators serve with the Royal Canadian Navy both full and part time at sea in ships, ashore in Naval Reserve Divisions, at Fleet Schools and Training Establishments both as students and instructors. Spread among 24 Naval Reserve Divisions and the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets, Naval Communicators have a presence in every major city in Canada. On the job, they work in a dynamic and fast paced environment managing the communications that enter and leave the ship. Trusted with sensitive and classified information, Naval Communicators are experts in procedural security. They exercise their expertise with computers, part of local and wide area networks, radio-teletype and voice circuits. Naval Communicators are also the tactical signaling experts in the Royal Canadian Navy. Throughout their development, Naval Communicators are exposed to, interact with and advise Command on this expertise.

Naval Communicator

Reserve Force training

Naval Communicators in the Reserve Force train alongside their Regular Force counterparts to what could be compared to the journeyman level of competence. Training is modularized and delivered on a schedule that is conducive to limited periods of availability. All training is paid whether it is done at home, at the local Naval Reserve Division, or in other locations across the country such as Victoria, Québec and Halifax. Naval Communicators undergo the Basic Military Qualification (Basic Training), usually the first summer after joining a Naval Reserve Division. During that same summer, they undergo environmental training as well. This training exposes the student to life at sea aboard a ship and includes things like Naval Firefighting, Damage Control, and shipboard ceremonies to name a few. From there, the student begins Naval Communicator training by Web-based and distance learning followed by a residential phase of 29 weeks the following summer in Victoria, British Columbia.

Reserve Working Environment

Reserve Force members usually serve part-time with their home unit for scheduled evenings and weekends, although they may also serve in full-time positions at some units for fixed terms, depending on the type of work that they do. They are paid 85 percent of Regular Force rates of pay, receive a reasonable benefits package and may qualify to contribute to a pension plan.