The Canadian Leaders at Sea (CLaS) program provides an information kit for all participants ahead of the deployment. The 68-page package is pretty detailed. The schedule of events for the five-day deployment I’m on covers six pages of the package. That’s followed by the one-page bios (with photos) of each of the ten participants, then bios RCN leadership and the Commanding Officer, Executive Officer, and Coxswain of HMCS Calgary.

One of my CLaSmates recognized me as we were about to board the flight from Vancouver to Prince Rupert yesterday afternoon. He introduced himself and we chatted as we walked across the tarmac to our plane. It turns out all of the CLaS participants were on that same flight and he had memorized everybody’s faces and names.

It was raining when we arrived, and it rained well into the evening. Someone protested saying “that’s not rain, it’s Prince Rupert Sun.” And, as if by magic, the rain stopped shortly after that and the clouds broke up enough that we were able to step out onto a patio of our hotel to take photos of HMCS Calgary at port just down the hill.

HMCS Calgary at the Port of Prince Rupert

Unlike the Executrek which had a large number of participants gathered for a short period of time, my CLaS cohort is only 10 people and we had the entire first evening to get to know each other. The conversations are invigorating in large part because we all come from a broad range of backgrounds, experiences and interests—security, marine craft, film, operations, business, fabrics, academia and communication. As it turns out, one of the participants and I grew up in the 70s/80s not far from each other (though we went to different schools). He worked at the McDonald’s I frequented in my youth, and his father and my father worked together.

The evening included dinner with Commander Jonathan Kouwenberg (Commanding Officer, HMCS Calgary), Lieutenant-Commander J.D. Forbes (Executive Officer, HMCS Calgary), Chief Petty Officer 1st Class Todd James (Coxswain, HMCS Calgary), Lieutenant-Commander Melissa Fudge (Program Director, Royal Canadian Navy Canadian Leaders at Sea), as well as Her Honour Janet Austin, Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia, her husband and her staff.

The evening ended with the lot of us receiving our Navy Combat Dress (NCD).

It will be a busy day. We meet in the lobby shortly and then leave for the ship where we will start the day with safety briefings and an introduction to the ship and the Navy.

I’ve included two videos of HMCS Calgary produced in 2018 and 2017, respectively. The ship’s command team has since changed.