RMCC Naval Cadets experience life on the high sea with the U.S. navy

RMCC Naval Cadets experience life on the high sea with the U.S. navy

By: 27182 Officer Cadet (IV) Carmen Kiltz

Officer Cadets from the Royal Military College of Canada are involved in vast and various summer training opportunities each year. This year, those in the Army once again find themselves sleeping in some nice puddles in the field, Air Force officer cadets are working on their flight training or stationed at a range of bases across the country, and the Navy folks go to…Hawaii!?

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Well, to be exact, a select few of RMC’s own were indeed in Hawaii, but it was for less than 24 hours. Nonetheless it was a great finish to over thirty days at sea with the United States Navy.

I caught up with 27111 Naval Cadet Alek Robaczewski, a future Maritime Surface and Sub-Surface (MARS) Officer, to discuss his exchange with the Americans. NCdt. Robaczewski is in 3 Squadron and is entering his fourth year of studies in Honours Physics at RMC. He, along with four other RMC Naval Cadets, gained a significant amount of sea time with the United States Navy aboard the USS Stockdale- a guided missile destroyer.

His experience at sea entailed approximately two weeks of crossing the Pacific Ocean, two weeks of patrolling the South China Sea, three days in Manila, and their short stop in Hawaii.

For a couple of weeks, USS Stockdale served as an escort to the USS John C. Stennis- a nuclear powered supercarrier.

Once in the South China Sea, the guided missile destroyer patrolled the waters- ensuring that international water laws were being enforced.

On board ship, the naval cadets took part in divisional duties which consisted of watches, “job shadowing” the officer of the deck (called officer of the watch in Canada), special evolutions, and conning (controlling the ship’s movement at sea).

The watches took up two three-hour shifts each day. The Naval Cadets experienced various special evolutions, including replenishment at sea, where fuel and other supplies were loaded aboard USS John C. Stennis.

“Job shadowing” the officer of the deck was an important and unique opportunity for Robaczewski, since the goal of a MARS officer is indeed to partake in the tasks of the officer of the deck. Some of these tasks include keeping up to date on tide and weather information, the status of the unit’s boats and engineering plant, all matters affecting the safety and security of the unit, and taking action in accordance with the US Coast Guard navigation rules.

“Navigation was my favourite part,” the three-squadron native admitted. He enjoyed planning routes, teaching himself manoeuver boards, and gaining knowledge on celestial navigation.

The opportunity to stop in Manila in the Philippines and in Hawaii was very unique. Hawaii was their last stop, and here the US Navy, along with various other countries (including Canada), was to take part in the world’s largest international maritime warfare exercise called the Rim of the Pacific Exercise, or RIMPAC. This exercise is held biennially during June and July of even-numbered years.

Other highlights included a helicopter flight aboard the SH-60 Seahawk, a ride on a Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB), and learning about US Naval history.

“I now know more about US Naval history than Canadian Naval history,” Robaczewski laughed. He will be spending the rest of his summer at RMC working on academics.