My Early Days at Sea  

Anti-Aircraft Gun and Tracking Radar that I Maintained

Tracking Radar on 3 inch Gun I Maintained

Ordinary Seaman Hutton Fire Control Technician  
OSFC Hutton
As an Electronics Technician

In October 1968, I joined the Navy as a Firecontrol Technician. Unlike what the name may imply this trade had nothing to do with firefighting but rather was about controlling the fire of the guns. The ship used system involving an x-band tracking radar to track the aircraft and an analog computer to calculate the correct lead angle to hit the aircraft. The computer used a number of inputs including wind speed, air density and range as well as the relative speed of the aircraft and ship. My job was to maintain this vacuum tube equipment as part of a maintenance team.

In addition to working as a technician I took my turn doing a number of general tasks. All members of the ship's company stood watches (rotational duties) when at sea.  These watches involved a number of position that we rotated through such as steering the ship, acting as lookouts at the top of the ship and acting as a Lifebuoy Sentry at the back of the ship (Quarter Deck) where we watched out for anyone falling over board. This was a very important position, especially during rough weather. A week before joining my first ship, HMCS Assiniboine, a young Weapons Surface Able Seaman went up on the deck during rough weather to clear his head from sea-sickness. He was washed overboard when a wave hit the ship and washed him under the torpedo tubes and into the ocean. Although the Lifebuoy Sentry sounded the alarm and the ship turned around to search for him, he was never found.  Interesting though, I was assigned his bunk when I joined the ship a week later and watch as the Coxswain cut the lock off his locker and cleaned it out.
On the Quarter Deck of HMCS Assissiboine with Friends Transiting the Kiel Canal in Germany in 197

Serving with the Nato Squardon in Holland in 1973

Relaxing with Friends on Assiniboine Transiting the Kiel Canal in Germany Serving with the NATO Squadron

HMCS Assissiboine
I was also part of the focs'le party for entering and leaving harbour. This involved standing on the focs'le (the pointed end of the ship) when entering and leaving harbour and preparing the ships lines to tie up the ship when it was alongside.

I also worked in this area when the ship was refueling and replenishing at sea. The ship was often re-supplied when we were at sea, from a large supply ship and tanker. This required the ship to steam very close to the tanker and required a very experienced person on the helm. The helm, or ships steering wheel, was located 3 decks down from the bridge. So, the officer commanding the ship gave the helmsman instructions on the course to steer with an intercom system. Given the inherit delay in this method it was very difficult to keep the ship on course while it was only 25 yards from the supply ship.


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