Happy days for HMCS Goose Bay 

HMCS Goose Bay hosted Mayor Wally Andersen, councillors and staff from the Town of Happy Valley Goose Bay during the ship’s four-day visit.

Happy days for HMCS Goose Bay 

MCDV enjoys a namesake community visit and other activities in Canada’s North

By Joanie Veitch,
Trident staff

After 39 days covering more than 12,000 kilometres, HMCS Goose Bay returned to Halifax on September 10 from a very memorable deployment — one that included participating in Operation NANOOK and a namesake community visit to Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

HMCS Goose Bay is seen sailing alongside US Coast Guard Ships Escanaba (left) and Richard Snyder (centre) during the early portion of Operation NANOOK. CPL SIMON ARCAND

Although Goose Bay was only in port for four days — from September 2-5 — the crew made the most of the available time, meeting with members of 5 Wing Goose Bay, the Mayor and representatives of the Town of Happy Valley-Goose Bay, as well as the family of Dr. Doris Saunders, the ship’s sponsor, who passed away in 2006. They also hosted more than 200 residents for public tours of the ship — all with COVID protocols and precautions in place.

The crew also got some “fuzz therapy” on a visit to the Happy Valley-Goose Bay SPCA — the ship’s charity — where they donated $1,000 to help with medical and shelter costs, and got to cuddle with some cute critters.

“We had to check everyone’s pockets and backpacks after that visit to make sure no one tried to smuggle any of them aboard ship,” joked LCdr Daniel Rice, Goose Bay’s Commanding Officer.

The deployment was Goose Bay’s first since before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the Atlantic shores, cancelling the ship’s scheduled involvement in BALTOPS in June 2020 and again scuttling its role in Operation PROJECTION in January 2021.

“We missed two out of two deployments over the past 18 months so we were really ready for this one,” said LCdr Rice.

Midway through Operation Nanook — an annual joint exercise in the Canadian Arctic — HMCS Goose Bay switched from the naval exercise portion of the operation to embark three officers for patrols with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Over the next two and a half weeks, the officers conducted seven boardings within three different fishing zones and three northern wildlife areas, in the Baffin Bay and Davis Strait area.

“It’s an opportunity to support our other government departments in the north. Typically they’ll go in a coast guard vessel, but the Navy is also there to help and support,” said LCdr Rice. “It’s a whole government effort in terms of maintaining sovereignty in the north.”

The ship’s company also made a stop in Iqaluit, Nunavut, where they delivered 32 backpacks stuffed with school supplies to the Iqaluit District Education Authority for distribution to area schools. In an initiative led by the Halifax and Region Military Family Resource Centre, 92 backpacks with approximately $1,000 worth of school supplies were donated to take to various Nunavut communities.

HMCS Harry DeWolf took the remaining backpacks as she made her way through the Northwest Passage.

After a year of missing out on most of their sailing schedule, the ship’s company also got to take in some spectacular northern sights, including seeing a polar bear eating a seal on an ice floe.

“For some of these sailors, it was their first deployment. It was truly memorable. I’ve been in the north three times and I’ve never seen anything like that,” said LCdr Rice.