Shelby Pauls, a Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corps 64 Malaspina member from the qathet region, went on an adventure of a lifetime to Victoria last month, to train and experience the life of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) at CFB Esquimalt.
She was one of 26 cadets ages 12 to 18, who travelled to Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Esquimalt for a week of training.
“One of the most exciting things we did was we went aboard the His Majesty’s Canadian Ship HMCS Ottawa, which is a warship that has weapons,” said Pauls.
The group of cadets worked in teams learning damage control, and how to extinguish a fire without being afraid.
“We also toured the orca-class training vessel Moose of the patrol craft training unit,” said Pauls. “On the last day we went out for a couple hours on zodiacs, where we learned different marine signals. Another exciting part of training was going on a bridge simulator while on the HMCS Ottawa.”
She said that it felt like virtual reality, where training officers step inside a massive room with screens all around.
“You feel like you are on the water,” she added.
This is how officers can practice different scenarios without being on the ship or on the water.
“We took turns doing different jobs; one being captain, driver, watcher and navigator,” explained Pauls. “The bridge simulation helps officers in training practice navigating through different weather scenarios, maneuvering through obstacles and locations.”
Pauls is keeping her options open when it comes to her future post-secondary school goals. One possibility is to join the Canadian Coast Guard, but after experiencing naval training “I kind of got swayed,” admitted Pauls.
For two other cadets on the trip, this training solidified that they want to join the navy in the future. One of her colleagues wants to work on a warship, learn navigation and weapons training.
“I am thinking I’m interested in working on a warship, too,” said Pauls. “On a warship you get to patrol the waters and I just love being on the water. I love the idea of getting to go away overseas; that would be cool.”
One thing that shocked Pauls is the changing culture of the navy.
“When we first went to the base, [being a woman] I was surprised to see the number of women in higher up positions, and on the ship,” said Pauls. “Also, how women’s roles have evolved over time, because in the past we weren’t always included.”
For now back home, Pauls is in her fifth year as a sea cadet and is currently teaching younger students flag signals.