Anyone wondering what it’s like aboard a warship can now head down to the lakeshore and get a look.
The HMCS Ville De Quebec loudly announced its arrival in Thunder Bay Wednesday morning with a three-round salute, answered back by rifles and cannon from Fort William Historical Park, before docking at the former Pool 6 site.
Cmdr. Yves Germain is welcoming members of the public aboard until Monday, the day his ship is set to leave the area.
“This is a great opportunity for the citizens of Thunder Bay to see the navy and what we do,” he said.
The ship is on a 14-city Great Lakes tour along with two U.S. warships to commemorate the war of 1812, although those ships did not make the trip to Thunder Bay. Germain said the trip has been a friendly one.
“Not too many debates. I think everyone agrees that both sides won the war. There were some very positive results to the war of 1812 and I think we’re all in agreement that it was positive for both countries,” he said.
But like all of Canada’s 12 frigates, the Quebec can be ready for deployment quickly. At 135 metres long, 16 metres wide and seven metres deep, one might not think of the 5,000 tonne ship as quick. But it’s capable of doing 30 knots, or 35 miles an hour, giving it the nickname ‘Ferrari of the sea.’”
While it serves many purposes, the ship is built to hunt submarines.
“If you want to hunt for submarines you need to be fast in order to outrun sometimes torpedoes as you’re hunting,” Germain said.
It’s also large enough to house a helicopter to hunt as well. Then there’s the firepower, featuring a 57mm cannon capable of firing 220 rounds per minute. It also holds missiles for land, sea and air targets.
The Quebec helped escort ships for the World Food Program off the coast of Ethiopia in 2008.
“It wasn’t safe to bring the food into the port,” he said.
While it’s nice to boast about the ship’s capabilities, Germain said he’s also happy for people to meet the 230 personnel aboard the Quebec.
Leading Seaman Craig Gerein from Victoria, B.C. has been with the navy for more than six years. As a boatswain on Quebec, he’s responsible for everything from resupplying the ship when they’re out at sea to small firearms.
“We’re always doing something. You never know when you come into a day of work what you could be doing,” he said.
His greatest experience with the ship so far has been a surveillance mission to the Caribbean.
“Making sure there were no drug runners that kind of thing,” he said.
Getting to see places like Trinidad and Tobago along with the Barbados are great experiences that he might not have otherwise had the chance to see. Travelling was one of the reasons Gerein, whose father was in the military for 22 years, wanted to serve.
“I would never have had that experience if I was back home,” he said.
Cramped quarters and long days at sea can drag on though. But even the routine can become enjoyable once it is familiar, he said.
“It’s almost like Groundhog Day, very repetitive very monotonous,” Gerein said. “Once you get into the routine it’s very comfortable.”
The crew also passes the time with sports. The hangar on board showed everything from hockey sticks to baseball gloves.
“Anything that we can play we’re out playing it,” he added.
Germain expects to see thousands of visitors over the coming days. The ship is available for tours in the afternoons.
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