Flashback: 1956 Summer Training – NAVY

BILGES AND CROWSNEST – FIRST YEAR 1956

Toronto to Victoria by T.C.A. was the first leg of a summer journey which took the R.M.C. naval cadets to the U.S.A., Mexico, Panama, and Ecuador. A strenuous course in basic navigation occupied the first three weeks at Royal Roads, while bridge was the tool of relaxation. Not to be outdone by the picturesque setting of the College, our home for the next two months – the training cruiser “Ontario” – had its own special qualities: grey paint, armour plate, decks, and bilges – certainly grotesque if not picturesque.

San Diego with its zoo and beaches was interesting as our first port, but many people preferred to spy the wilder animals in their natural habitat, south of the border, in Tijuana. Balboa and Panama of the Canal Zone followed a long voyage from Magdalen Bay, Mexico, where seamanship and “beach parties” required our time. From East to West on the liner “Reina de Pacifico”, some sixty cadets journeyed through the Panama Canal, one of the most rewarding experiences we had. Salinas, Ecuador was the southernmost harbour we visited, although thirty-five cadets attended a reception given by the British Consul at Quito, the capital. Whether it was the altitude (about 10,000 feet) or the warm hospitality, nobody wants to say, but we found it quite hard to maintain our equilibrium at certain times. At the sea once again, we sailed north north to Balboa for a day, then on to Acapulco, where we saw Mexicans diving from great heights into small pools filled with the surging tide and rocks for small amounts of money. Long Beach and Santa Barbara terminated our ports of call and once again, on August 10th, we entered Victoria harbour and the final examinations at Royal Roads.

No. 4441 J.W. Logie

 

SECOND YEAR CADET NAVAL TRAINING

The Naval cadets were told of plans for their summer training early last year and from that day forward anticipated a very successful and interesting summer. In this they were not disappointed.

Accordingly, the Second Escort Squadron in company with H.M.C.S. Ontario left Esquimalt bound for San Diego. Cape Flattery, the scourge of all cadets (and officers too, I might add) was in its usual form and many of us fell victim to the only black mar of the voyage – sea sickness.

Just beginning to gain our sealegs we sailed into San Diego Harbour. Besides enjoying the usual diversions of sailors ashore, we were given tours of various U.S. military bases and U.S.S. Kearsarge, one of the carriers based there.

We sailed south to Magdalena Bay, Mexico, on the Lower California peninsula. Magdalena Bay, to ex-penal colony for political exiles, is composed of a half dozen unpainted houses, badly in need of repair. However, the Bay itself is ideal for the maneuvering ships to anchorages and buoys, away from continual swell of the Pacific. Here the executive cadets sweated over the voice-pipes coming alongside buoys, etc. We parted company with H.M.C.S. Ontario and headed north to San Francisco, while she went south to Ecuador. The Second Escort Squadron tied up at Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay and we enjoyed the benefits of American hospitality in another large city before sailing once more for the open sea.

Our cruise was certainly not pleasure cruise, although ashore we enjoyed all the pleasures of a tourist. Training afloat was well planned to give a through understanding of the organization and operation of each cadet’s branch as well as the Executive Branch. This summer was an experiment by the R.C.N. to see if cadets could learn while at sea. The results of the summer could only point to the fact that the experiment was a resounding success.

We sailed to Pearl Harbor where we saw the remains of U.S.S. Arizona, that grim reminder of December 7th, 1941. While at Pearl Harbor we worked with the U.S.N. in an antisubmarine role. Space does not allow a detailed account of Hawaii. Suffice to say that we will never forget Waikiki, and Honolulu.

No. 4120 R. Whitehead

 

SUMMER TRAINING DOWN SOUTH

Our Navel Engineering cadets are very fortunate in that, once they leave R.M.C. for their summer training, they are more or less going to spend their summer doing practical work which will supplement the theory they have learned during the winter.

This last summer, 1956, we third year engineers were appointed to H.M.C.S. Ontario for the whole summer. After having studied reciprocating machinery for two summers previously, we would now tackle more complicated machinery, such as turbines. We were responsible for learning the function and operation of all auxiliary machinery, including diesel engines, generators, hydraulic systems, refrigeration equipment, etc., while on duty in the engine and boiler rooms. Moreover, we had to trace diagrams of all piping systems aboard the ship. A ship is like an enclosed city; certain pipes serve for protection against fire or flooding, others carry water for sanitary purposes, and so on. The main difference between a city and a ship, however, is that the ship is more compact; consequently, all those pipes intermingle and their diagrams become very complex and difficult to trace. Many of the pipes are situated in almost inaccessible places, especially in the engine room, where heat radiating from them also hampers your work. Once the diagrams had been laboriously completed, we were surprised to find that the Damage Control Section had already possessed comprehensive diagrams which we could have borrowed. But we probably learned more by tracing the diagrams from the real thing.

On the H.M.C.S. Ontario cruise we visited several ports in California, Mexico, Panama, and Ecuador. A major point of the trip was the investigation of the so-called “rumors” about the reputations of such places as Tijuana, Panama City, and Acapulco. We were happy to confirm the rumors as being completely true. For more information you could contact any one of the cadets who made the trip, but I suggest Don Coulter as an expert in the matter.

Needless to say, lack of money, or rather, lack of Reserve cadets with possible loaning facilities for us highly mortgaged R.O.T.P. cadets, was a great hindrance to our thorough investigation of stray rumours. In fact, we only had one Reserve cadet, George Desbarats, who fortunately did his best to keep us supplied with the “green stuff”.

Life aboard ship was very interesting, as many activities were organized by the ship’s company. We also arranged for our own recreation sometimes and the last night aboard ship may well be remembered as “the night Cadet Barrett lost his mattress”, as Thurber would put it.

No. 3373 J.W.Y. Lemiex

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