I was one of the fortunate few in my class to get a posting as a Department Head at sea. I was posted to HMCS Ottawa Thirteen years after beginning my pursuit to become my boss's, boss's, boss in 1971 while serving in HMCS Assiniboine. At the time I was thinking that I would achieve this goal in 3 or 4 years at the most. So it took about ten years longer than I had anticipated but in the process I received a well rounded education at Military College, experienced graduate studies at the University of Victoria and finished off my education at the Technical University of Nova Scotia and Fleet School Halifax. In hindsight the extra ten years was well worth it.
Each warship has two Engineers; a Marine Systems Engineer, who is responsible for the ship's propulsion and power systems and a Combat Systems Engineer, who is responsible for the ship's Combat, Command and Control, Communications and Navigations and Computing Systems. Combat Systems Engineers also serve in shore-based establishments which was where many of my classmates were posted, primarily in Halifax, Nova Scotia; Victoria, British Columbia.
As the Head of the Combat Systems
Engineering Department I managed a department of over 53 technicians
and technologists. As such I dealt with unique challenges associated
with life at sea while leading personnel under
difficult conditions. It's one thing to manage and repair
high-voltage systems in a 9 to 5 environment in an office
building and it's a very different challenge to manage and repair
the same equipment at three in the morning while being bounced
around in heavy seas. While serving in HMCS Ottawa we had several port visits along the
Eastern Coast of the USA from Boston in the North to Savanna Georgia in
the South. We also visited several Caribbean Islands from St
Lucia to St Croix.