How long have you been in the navy?
1 year 5 months
What is your role in the navy? Tell us about it.
I am a Naval Communicator. Most Nav Comms can be found in the Communications Control Room (CCR) making sure our information traffic is secure. In a sense, we are sort of like the ship's mail man. We receive messages from shore, sort through it, and pass it on to its intended recipients. We are also responsible internet connectivity; ensuring the ship is able to send emails home. We also man the signals desk on the bridge. This is where we receive encoded signals from other ships. We, in turn, decode them and report to the Officer of the watch. The raising or lowering of any flag on ship will usually be the result of a Nav Comm hard at work.
What encouraged you to join?
I wasn't sure of what to do with myself after finishing my degree in criminology. I wanted to do something fun, exciting, and involving travel.
Do you have family members in the military or reserves? If yes, who?
Where else have you worked? How does it compare?
Prior to joining the navy, I was a customs officer at Pearson Int. Airport in Toronto. My job was to conduct primary interviews, catch illegal drugs, and prevent illegal immigration. Some of my colleagues were ex-military and kept telling me how much they enjoyed being in the forces. Although there are many things I was exposed to as a customs officer, being in the military has allowed me to do so many things that civilians are not privy to; for example, firing weapons, living on a warship, seeing the world, and participating in crossing the line ceremonies. The navy is more than just a job; it's a lifestyle.
Do you have a family? Tell us about them.
My family immigrated to Canada from El Salvador during the civil war in the 80’s when I was only three years old. They are currently in Toronto where I grew up. Within the short amount of time I've spent in the military, however; I can say that there are a few serving members that bear the title of my family away from home.
What has been the most valuable lesson learned in the navy?
There is no place like home. As sailors we get the opportunity to interact with people from all over the world and get to see places that most people will never visit; however, there is a strong sense of national pride among all of us onboard that can only come from being away for such an extended period of time.
What message do you have for people who may be interested in joining the navy?
Joining the navy has probably been one of the best decisions I've ever made. Even if you don't intend on making it a career, there are many skills that you learn by being a serving member in uniform.
What surprised you the most about the navy?
We have a long history and even though it's 2011, we still uphold some of the oldest sailing traditions. For example; morse code is rarely but still used as a form of communication, we use the boatswains call (a pipe) to signal the crew to breakfast, and we still celebrate the Queen's birthday by dressing ship (decorating the ship with flags).
What are your future goals with the navy?
To get myself posted on another great sail, preferably one to the Gulf.
What ships have you sailed in?
What is a typical day in your role of the navy like?
The first thing I hear when I wake up in the morning is a pipe "Wakey Wakey, hands to breakfast". A wide variety of breakfast dishes are available, courtesy of some very busy cooks. I then make my way up to the bridge, where I send off some signals to our Australian and American allies, hoist some flags, and, if I ask nicely enough, the boatswains may let me drive the ship for a few minutes. During my spare time, I like to make use of the gym where I can either work-out at my own pace, or join in on a fitness class. There are always movies playing in our main mess, and I can grab a folding chair and read a book on the flight deck.
What is the typical reaction you get when you tell people you’re in the navy?
Most people think it is very interesting and have plenty of questions about where we sleep and if I get sea sick. My family is very proud and will not hesitate to tell their friends about all the cool places I've seen.
What are some misconceptions about the navy?
That it is all work and no play. Yes we are very hard workers and go without sleep on the odd occasion, but we do find ways to unwind. We have a fully equipped gym with an on-board fitness trainer, we can watch movies in our messes, we can email and call our families, and once in a while we have BBQs on the flight deck.