Author Topic: Commodore praises crew of returning Charlottetown September 9, 2012  (Read 2011 times)

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Mike Blais

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Commodore praises crew of returning Charlottetown
September 9, 2012 - 3:57am By MICHAEL GORMAN Staff Reporter

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — As he visited with the crew of HMCS Charlottetown Saturday, Commodore Darren Hawco made a point of talking to as many people as he could.

The personable Montreal native who oversees the fleet was in St. John’s to welcome the crew back to Canada after an eight-month deployment, award some medals and citations, and thank them for their service and sacrifice.

“I really want to make sure an individual sailor understands the importance of what they do on a daily basis because we ask a lot of our people. And rightly so because we are the defenders of Canada,” Hawco said during an interview aboard the ship.

“As a function of that, it’s important that people own an understanding of that.”

Charlottetown’s deployment was one of the longest in at least a decade, said Hawco.

After working as part of a NATO operation in the Mediterranean Sea and then a coalition operation in the Arabian Sea, the ship sets sail for home in Halifax today, arriving on Tuesday.

The deployment wasn’t originally scheduled to be so long, but was extended by about two months after the government decided that repositioning made sense given Charlottetown’s location at the time, the fact that it wasn’t specifically committed and based on an assessment of world events, said Hawco.

“It’s not like we’re going to a whole new city. We’re really moving a couple of streets over, is the analogy I would use.”

In Charlottetown’s case, Hawco said an extension of two months “is not typical, but it’s not abnormal.”

Sailors understand that they have a job to do and they willingly and proudly do that job.

It’s the job of Hawco, and others managing the fleet, to make sure the crew has what it needs and their families are kept in the loop.

As a former commanding officer of HMCS Ottawa, Hawco understands the challenges of such deployments for a ships crew.

He took command of the Atlantic fleet just days after Charlottetown sailed out of Halifax and “tracked them every single day.”

“I’ve been unbelievably impressed, frankly, with the feedback that I’ve gotten through the United States and NATO chains of command on the performance of Charlottetown throughout their deployment,” he said.

For a man who’s spent much of his working life at sea, Hawco logs plenty of frequent flier miles travelling to see the crews of his vessels.

He’s eager to hear what crew members think can be improved upon.

In Charlottetown’s case, that particularly means hearing about the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, something Hawco believes has a big future in the navy’s operations.

“We’re gonna tighten the bolts as we go until it’s seamless, like almost everything else we do in the navy.”