P.E.I. naval reservists step up for 'exciting opportunity' in Latvia

Seven P.E.I. naval reservists from HMCS Queen Charlotte are training for a mission that would take them to Latvia, providing protection for a navy ship when it comes to port.

Island reservists could make up one quarter of Canadian team heading overseas

Leading Seaman Daniel Scott was overseas once before in 2015 sailing on HMCS Vancouver, and has been itching to go back ever since. (Nancy Russell/CBC)

Seven P.E.I. naval reservists from HMCS Queen Charlotte are training for a mission that would take them to Latvia, providing protection for a navy ship when it comes to port.

Lt.-Cmdr. Rob Alain says being part of the Naval Security Team is a great opportunity for the reservists.

"When a ship goes into a foreign port, their personnel may be required to conduct routine maintenance on the ship and having personnel conduct maintenance and also conduct security for the ship can be a bit of a burden," Alain said.

"Those personnel take over security for the ship."

First deployment last year

The Naval Security Team is a relatively new initiative. It had its first deployment — to Korea — last year. One of its goals is to give reservists more opportunities overseas.

Alain said the deployment gives a focus to the training the reservists are doing on P.E.I.

"Now they know they're focusing on preparing to take over security for a ship," he said.

The opportunity for a deployment overseas is also a great recruitment tool, Alain said.

"Any time you can tell kids in high school or university that they have the chance to deploy to Fiji coming up, to Latvia, to Korea, that they're going to make a difference for the protection of the Royal Canadian Navy, it's going to increase excitement for them." 

Lt.-Cmdr. Rob Alain says being part of the Naval Security Team is a great opportunity for the reservists. (Randy McAndrew/CBC)

Leading Seaman Daniel Scott is hoping to be part of the mission to Latvia. He's a supply technician at HMCS Queen Charlotte and has been with the reserves since May 2014. 

I think it's just an exciting opportunity to train together and then potentially see new and exciting places.— Leading Seaman Daniel Scott

He was overseas once before in 2015, sailing on HMCS Vancouver, and said he's "had the itch to go over and deploy again" ever since.

"I definitely learned about how quickly things can change when you're in a deployed environment and new challenges such as sea state and just general sea life."

He also found there are different challenges to his job when he's at sea.

"You can't access stores in Canada when you're in the middle of the ocean," Scott said.

Scott is looking forward to having some of his shipmates from P.E.I. on this deployment.

"My unit is really a big family,"  Scott said. "I think it's just an exciting opportunity to train together and then potentially see new and exciting places." 

The Naval Security Team had its first deployment last year. ( (Photo: Leading Seaman Ogle Henry, Formation Imaging Services))

HMCS Queen Charlotte had two members who deployed to Korea last year, but to have seven going is unusual.

"In the history of the military family resource centre on P.E.I., this has never happened before," said Leona Conrick, executive director of the P.E.I. centre.

Alain is also impressed by the interest from his reservists.

"When you think of the fact that we have 24 naval reserve divisions across Canada, and seven of those members — or 25 per cent — are coming from Queen Charlotte, it makes me pretty proud."

Scott is looking forward to having some of his shipmates from P.E.I. on the deployment to Latvia. (Randy McAndrew/CBC)

The reservists first head to B.C. for training. There is a final selection process but Alain is optimistic his members will make the cut for Latvia.

The deployment is just for a month but Alain said the experience will be invaluable.

"They'll come back, they'll relay those stories to our sailors, that reinvigorates, excites and makes people want to continue training here."

About the Author

Nancy Russell

Nancy Russell has been a reporter with CBC since 1987, in Whitehorse, Winnipeg, Toronto and Charlottetown. When not on the job, she spends her time on the water rowing, travelling to Kenya or walking her dog. Nancy.Russell@cbc.ca