No Life Like It

IV Year Naval Cadet completes two month exchange with Portuguese Navy

By: 24712 Brent Fisher

For 24758 Stephen Oxley, this summer’s training has looked remarkably different than in previous years. The Fourth Year CFL from 2 Sqn has just completed a two month exchange with the Portuguese Navy that saw him spend 43 days at sea aboard a tall ship. After meeting the Navio da Republica Portuguesa SAGRES in San Diego, Oxley proceeded to Honolulu, and then Japan.

In addition to studying the Portuguese language, Steve learned first-hand several lessons on seamanship, navigation, and naval culture in general. This was made possible due to his role as an extra hand near the mast called the Mezzena, where he quickly improved his rope handling ability (photo). During his free time, Oxley would go to the bridge to learn about the various navigational instruments and techniques. Steve hopes that his enthusiasm in learning new skills this summer will pay dividends for him next year when he completes the MARS III course at NOTC Venture.

Despite the challenges associated with a broken water desalinator and higher sea states, Oxley would recommend this experience to any of his peers in the Navy. The exposure to NATO allies in Pearl Harbour during RIM PAC, as well as the opportunity to network with future naval leaders from all over the world while aboard the tall ship made this a memorable summer to say the least.

The Canadian Navy was just one of several participating in this program with the Portuguese. The latter extends invitations to foreign navies in order to recruit members for the exchange. Among the crew of 200 this year were naval cadets and junior officers from Italy, Britain, East Timor, Germany, Spain, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Japan, China, Mozambique, Angola, and the United States.

Steve’s time with the SAGRES represented a small portion of its eleven month circumnavigation of the globe. The ship had already traversed from Portugal to Cape Horn, and up to San Diego. From Japan it will continue through the Red Sea and Suez Canal back to Portugal. Meanwhile, Oxley will be keeping busy in Kingston as he balances the academic demands of finishing his double major in economics and political science with his responsibilities as a CFL and varsity athlete with the men’s volleyball team.