Serving at Sea with the NATO Squadron  

HMCS Terra Nova at sea with HMCS Assiniboine

HMCS Terra Nova at Sea

Shore Leave in Lisbon Portugal  
In Lisbon Portugal
Great Introduction to Other Countries Navies  

One of the best things about being in the Navy is that we got to visit a lot of different countries. Some of the best ports visits occurred when we went to the Caribbean in the winter. I recall leaving Halifax harbour when it was below zero Fahrenheit and really windy on the focs'le and two days later it was warm, sunny and 70 degrees. Then a few days later when we were in Caribbean waters it often felt so hot when you left the air conditioned ship to go the the upper deck that you slowly sucked the air because it felt like it would burn your lungs.

One of my favorite ports was the small Caribbean island of St Lucia.  This was my first exposure to people who were really poor.  The ship hired a local contract to paint the ship and the contractor volunteered his crew to take the garbage out of the ship each day. What we discovered was that he was paying his workers with the food scraps he collected from the ships galley.  In addition to left over food this also contained table scraps from the plates were often contained sailor's cigarette buts.  In spite of this the workers were happy to get their share at the end of the day. This is somewhat understandable when you consider how poor and desperate these people were. For example, shoes in the only shoe store in Castries, the capital of St Luicia, sold for only 50 cents, yet most people couldn't afford them and were barefoot.

Ordinary Seaman Fire Control Hutton in from of Gun on HMCS Assisiniboine Sitting on an Anchor in Boston Harbour

Ordinary Seaman Hutton in the Mess

OSFC Hutton in from of Gun Sitting on an Anchor in Boston Harbour OSFC Hutton Relaxing in Eight Mess

Canadian Ships in Lisbon, Portugal  
Lisbon, Portugal
While serving on HMCS Assiniboine I got to serve in two NATO deployments. Although this usually involved being away for six months at a time, sailing with the NATO Squadron meant really great port visits. Also Squadron staff always organise a number of activities while in port. There were always brewery tours, beer ball games and plenty of night time activities. While serving with the NATO Squadron I visited ports like Amsterdam, Lisbon, Hamburg and Rotterdam. I also recall transiting the Kiel canal which was quite the experience given it was very narrow in places.

There were also interesting trips back in Canada. I recall one summer we sailed North and visited a number of ports in northern Quebec and in port visits in Hudson and James Bay. That Trip we also sailed into Frobisher Bay where we had to dodge a lot of ice to visit what was then called the city of Frobisher Bay and is now Iqaluit. On this trip we were one of the first ships to refuel across the Arctic Circle. We all received a scroll for crossing the Arctic Circle on that trip. This goes along with the one I received for crossing the Equator the year before.

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