From d’Iberville to Summerside: Meet Lt(N) William Belanger-Croteau
By Lt Sheila Tham,
Public Affairs Officer
Lieutenant (Navy) William Belanger-Croteau is a Naval Warfare Officer who filled the Deck Officer position with HMCS Summerside during the ship’s recent Op CARIBBE deployment.
When approached to discuss his role in the Royal Canadian Navy, he said, “I’m 26 years old and the Navy has trained me to drive a ship around the world and represent Canada; I think that’s pretty cool.”
A native of Rimouski, Que., he originally joined the Reserve Force with that community’s Naval Reserve Division, HMCS d’Iberville, and spent seven years there before joining HMCS Summerside, which is based in Halifax.
It’s actually his second CARIBBE, having deployed last year with HMCS Goose Bay and the year prior he went on Operation TRIDENT JUNCTURE across Europe. He’s enjoying his role as the Deck Officer on Summerside.
“You get to do more work with your hands. I like being in charge of all the weapons, boats, a group of boatswains and I like working with my team outside,” he said.
“As a kid you read all kinds of books about pirates and island hideaways, I think it’s really interesting to be able to visit those islands and see what they are really like.”
HMCS Summerside made a stop in Curaçao in November for Op CARIBBE, but unlike past sails, the crew wasn’t permitted to leave the ship due to COVID-19 precautions. He was okay with that, though – he’s had lots of opportunities to travel with the Navy. His past port visits include Azores, the United Kingdom, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Latvia Portugal, the Dominican Republic, Antigua, the Grenadines, the British Virgin Islands, and Miami.
“My favourite port visit was Bergen, Norway. There’s a small town in the fjords and it was beautiful, the scenery was jaw-dropping,” he says.
Although he loves travelling, that’s not his favourite part of being in the Navy.
“My proudest achievement was driving in consort with Standing NATO Mine Countermeasure Group 1 across the Baltic Sea. I was still a sub-lieutenant at the time and I was responsible for the safety and navigation of my ship within the NATO group. There were six ships and we were the only Canadians present,” he explained.
“I joined the Navy because I wanted to develop myself on a personal and professional level,” he says. “I needed a job and realized that the Navy allowed me to grow in so many different ways, working with all kinds of different people.”
He’s not the first in his family to serve in the military, but he is first in his family to become an officer. When asked whether he would encourage someone to join, he answered succinctly – “Do it! … You are given the opportunity to work with so many great people and see so many different places, and you get paid to do it.”
As for what’s next, he plans on heading back to Quebec.
“I like sailing, but I’d like to be closer to my family. The Reserves allows me the flexibility to choose a contract in the location I want to be in.” He mentioned that he sees himself back on the East Coast in a few years for a very simple reason – “I will miss sailing.”