HMCS Calgary new mission patch

LS Blair, OS Zysk and LS Connors all sport the new operational patch for HMCS Calgary.

HMCS Calgary mission patch part of new wave for RCN

By Peter Mallett,
The Lookout Staff

Sailors, soldiers and aviators aboard HMCS Calgary are proudly displaying their new mission patch during the Operation Projection deployment to the Asia-Pacific region.

Used for decades by Canada’s Army and RCAF, mission patches are a relatively new addition to Royal Canadian Navy dress and were introduced following recent changes to the Naval Combat Dress code.

The colourfully embroidered badge measures approximately eight centimetres in diameter and features the Halifax-class frigate riding the ocean waves behind a stampeding mustang set to a backdrop of a map of the Asia-Pacific region. The ship’s official motto, Onward, and the words OP PROJECTION 18-2 are also prominently displayed.

Calgary is currently conducting naval presence operations in the region and will be making port visits in five countries. The mission patch was presented to Calgary Commanding Officer Cdr Blair Saltel on July 30 and then distributed to approximately 220 personnel onboard in the first week of August.   

Mission patches, also known as operational patches, are badges worn on the shoulder of a military uniform to designate either a specific mission, unit or affiliation. They are used to build morale and esprit de corps and are formally approved for wear by the formation commander.

Calgary Logistics Chief, CPO2 Chief Rob Bates says he came up with the idea for the patch in February 2017.

“Since mission patches are relatively new to the navy, not everyone is fully up to speed on their history, meaning and significance,” said CPO2 Bates. “I am very pleased that several people had input on creating the patch and am pleased that it doesn’t look like that of any other ship.”

CPO2 Bates says it took several weeks of time and effort, along with a great deal of support and input from many others, to move his vision from concept to reality.

He received help from friend and local tattoo artist Olivia Larouche, who took his vision and drew the artwork. Larouche’s artwork was then tailored to meet embroidery production specifications by Bill Cochrane, Lookout graphic designer.

CPO2 Bates acknowledges that sometimes breaking with naval tradition and plotting new course in naval dress isn’t always so warmly received but says that despite a few critiques, for the most part, the introduction of the new patch aboard Calgary has been smooth sailing.

Lt(N) Alexander Duff acknowledges he was one of those onboard that held initial reservations but, after gaining a full understanding of the intent or purpose of mission patches, he now says its introduction has added great value to their mission.

“Overall I now see mission patches as very important because they aid in generating a brotherhood within the unit or mission, like having a medal that shows mutual experiences,” he said.

MS David Carle was fully in favour of the patch because it was inclusive of all three branches of the military and thereby highlights the importance of the Canadian Joint Operations Centre.

“Since this is my first non-NATO tour, I was pleased that this patch really highlighted the Canadian mission,” said MS Carle. “I believe mission patches really help validate to the crew and bring clarity to others about the importance and purpose of the mission we are on.”

Calgary and its crew are on a five-month deployment and will return to Victoria in December 2018.