Navy welcomes Orca to Pacific Fleet

Pam Lloyd
Staff writer
November 27, 2006

Orca and crew

Pam Lloyd
Lookout

As sailor’s cheered and waved their hats Orca 55 was officially accepted into the Canadian Navy during a ceremony on Nov. 17.

The first of eight new Patrol Craft Training (PCT) vessels Orca 55 features a bridge with navigation electronics updated from the previous Yard Auxiliary General (YAG) vessels including a global positioning system and improved accommodations. Crew will be housed in double cabins, while cabins of between four and six bunks will house trainees. The Orca class vessels are 33 metres long, have a displacement of 210 tonnes, and a top speed of 18 knots. Each ship holds four crew and 16 trainees.

Lt(N) Darren Johnston of Maritime Operations Group four (MOG4) has been skipper of Orca for the last two weeks performing sea readiness inspections.

“The vessel reflects the rest of the fleet much more than the YAG’s did,” he says. “In terms of what we had, there’s no comparison. It’s several generations advanced from what we had.”

The ships, built by Victoria Shipyard, replace the 50-year-old wooden hulled YAG training vessels. Malcolm Barker, general manager of Victoria Shipyards Limited handed over Orca to Cmdre David Gagliardi, Deputy Commander Canada Command, representing the Chief of Maritime Staff at the ceremony on A Jetty.

“Today, we usher in a new era in navigation and seamanship training for the Canadian Navy. Designated Patrol Craft Training, the Orca class ships represent a quantum leap into the future of the Canadian Navy replicating the capabilities found in the Navigation and Bridge Simulator at the Naval Officer Training Centre and on the bridge of the Halifax and Kingston class ships as well as the navy’s future ships. Sailors will now train in an environment that emulates the ships they will ultimately serve in,” said Cmdre Gagliardi.

After Barker signed over Orca 55 to Cmdre Gagliardi, representatives from the Naval Officer Training Centre (NOTC), the Naval Tender Section and the Royal Canadian Sea Cadets unveiled the kisbee ring at the event. LCdr James Brown, senior chaplain of Canadian Fleet Pacific blessed the ship and then it was time for Orca’s future sailors to board and ceremonially man the ship for the first time. Teenage cadets stood next to naval officers on the deck as they waved their hats and shouted, “three cheers for Orca, hip, hip, hooray.”

The remaining Orca class ships will be delivered in coming months and are named Raven, Caribou, Renard, Wolf, Grizzly, Cougar and Moose.

“The names of each of the eight ships remind us of the original sailors on the pacific coast of North America, the Coast Salish First Nations people,” said Cmdre Gagliardi. The names of six of the vessels were names also given to the “armed yachts” the Government acquired in the early years of the Second World War, he added.

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