PCU (Precommisioning Unit) Margaret Brooke lent a helping hand to fellow Canadians while on her way home from Operation Nanook in the Canadian Arctic.
The ship and its crew stopped at several small communities along the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador to conduct wellness checks in the wake of Hurricane Fiona. Tucked into coves and hugging the rocky coastline of Canada’s easternmost province, these semi-isolated communities are only accessible by boat.
“This is what I signed up for,” said Petty Officer 2nd (PO2) Class Caroline Hamilton, Assistant Chief Boatswain Mate. “This is why I put on the uniform every day, why I wear the flag. Let’s go help our people, our communities.”
Crew members described the warm welcome they received from the people of Francois, Grey River, Ramea, Burgeo and LaPoile, all located east of hard-hit Port aux Basques along Newfoundland’s southwest shore.
“After suffering through that hurricane, the people welcomed us with open arms,” said Lieutenant(N) Lisa Tubb, Public Affairs Officer for the ship. “You have no idea how wonderful it was – they lined the jetties and welcomed us like family.”
Once ashore, the crew took photos and notes of damage at the request of community leaders, sending the information back to Joint Task Force Atlantic in Halifax to coordinate any response required.
The level of damage done to each community varied; however, in Ramea, the town’s drinking water was contaminated by the salty ocean that crashed over retaining walls during the storm surge.
“Newfoundlanders have been happy to see us!” said PO2 Class Hamilton. “In some communities we have been the first people they have seen from outside following Hurricane Fiona. Sometimes they don’t want to let us go!”
For Margaret Brooke’s Executive Officer, Lieutenant-Commander (LCdr) Kyle Aubrey, being able to connect with these semi-isolated communities was a great reminder for everyone about why they choose to join the Navy – to protect and serve Canadians.
“Seeing their appreciation, even for just a visit to check in on how they were doing, made for a rewarding experience for the whole team,” LCdr Aubrey said. “I’m so proud of our sailors for rising to the occasion and showing that the Margaret Brooke crew is second to none.”
On September 29, the ship assisted the community of LaPoile in clean-up efforts from Hurricane Fiona, before making its way back to Halifax for a well-deserved rest period following an intense two months in Canada’s North.
Next up on Margaret Brooke’s schedule is pre-deployment preparations for a deployment in the new year on Operation Carribe and will embark a US Coast Guard law enforcement team. Canada has no legal authority to conduct arrests on the high seas counter-narcotics operations.