From July 31 to September 2, 2023, Second Lieutenant (SLT) Alexandra, Chief Officer of the Canadian Quarter, boarded the Overseas Support and Assistance Vessel (OMSB) Bougainville.

By following the same assessments as the other watch leaders assigned to the vessel, she was able to achieve the “release”, i.e. the management of the vessel’s navigation independently.

She tells her experience

What is your background?

I am originally from Trois Rivières, Quebec. I have a bachelor’s degree in communication and marketing from the University of Quebec in Montreal. Today, I am a naval warfare officer. I trained at HMCS Venture Surface before joining the submarine forces. I started my career on a submarine in Esquimalt and am now based on the Atlantic coast in Halifax on HMCS Windsor. In 2022, I deployed on the frigate HMCS Montréal.

Why did you volunteer for this exchange?

To progress in my job as an officer in the French Navy and discover other countries.

In your opinion, what are the main commonalities and differences between the two navies? Reactions to damage are similar, especially reflex actions. When it comes to the role of shift leader, there are two main differences for me:

  • In navigation in tight waters, the watch leader, on board French vessels, has more autonomy. Indeed, in addition to the CDQ reinforcement we have a “navigator”, a sailor who has received full training who tells the leader of the watch the routes to follow and how to maneuver.
  • For the management of collision resistance, French sailors have more freedom of maneuver. Indeed, the DMP system (minimum maneuvering distance) is similar except that to increase the CPA (closest point of approach) we can not make deviations from the road of more than 6 ° without having the agreement of the commander.

Your memories after a month aboard the Bougainville?

I will remember the warm welcome I received on board, and the quality of the exchanges I was able to have with the sailors of each sector. This allowed us to compare the working methods of each of our navies. French sailors are very versatile, unlike here where everything is compartmentalized.

What were your goals before boarding?

I wanted to prove to French sailors that the Canadian navy is training competent sailors who can adapt quickly to a new platform, let alone another navy. The fact that I was dropped as a watch leader is a testament to the confidence that the commanding officer has placed in me and I therefore consider myself to have achieved my objective.

The exchange project with Canadian OOWs was born during a discussion with the Commander of the Canadian Submarine Forces, Mr. Alex Kooiman, during his visit to Tahiti as part of the Asia Pacific Submarine Conference (APSC). Eight months later Alexandra was on board.

For Lieutenant (Navy) Xavier Moulin, commander of BSAOM Bougainville, it has integrated perfectly into the crew because most of the training and reactions are similar to the two navies. “The culture of doubt, very present among the Anglo-Saxons as well as the usual rigor among the submariners helped her in the process. Finally, taking a piece of Quebec City on a French boat will have made us travel! ” he concludes!

By Editor