HMCS Ville de Québec sailor finds reward in helping others

S1 Paul Chan Chow (centre) is Canadian Fleet Atlantic’s most recent Sailor of the Quarter. He was presented the award on November 15 by Fleet Chief CPO1 Cavel Shebib (left) and Fleet Commander Cmdre Trevor MacLean (right)

HMCS Ville de Québec sailor finds reward in helping others

By Joanie Veitch,
Trident Staff

Sailor 1st Class Paul Chan Chow, a naval combat information operator (NCIOP) with HMCS Ville de Québec, recently earned the Canadian Fleet Atlantic Sailor of the Quarter award for his commitment to mentoring junior sailors, and his efforts in boosting morale and cohesiveness amongst his shipmates.

Chief Petty Officer First Class Cavel Shebib, Fleet Chief Atlantic, presented the award to S1 Chan Chow at a ceremony on November 15, lauding the sailor for his “dedication” and “leadership abilities.”

“S1 Chan Chow is highly deserving of this recognition,” said CPO1 Shebib.

Doing more than expected has always been a driving force for S1 Chan Chow, who grew up in Trinidad and Tobago and immigrated to Canada when he was 19 years old.

Motivated by a sense of purpose and a desire to serve, S1 Chan Chow joined the Canadian Armed Forces in December 2018. 

“Being an immigrant, I felt a strong love for Canada and thought that this was a way that I can give back to the country that welcomed me, and allowed me to build a life which I really enjoy,” he said.

Recalling how senior members helped him find his way in his early days in the military, S1 Chan Chow knows the value in mentorship and organized training sessions for junior sailors. It was a move that benefited him as well, he said, as “to teach is to learn twice” and he’s “a better and more knowledgeable sailor” as a result.

 In June 2020, S1 Chan Chow was posted to his current ship, HMCS Ville de Québec and in October of that year he got to take part in his first major multinational training exercise, Exercise Joint Warrior, in waters off the UK coast, where he received high praise from his chain of command for his role in the exercise where he acted as an anti-submarine plotting operator.

“This was one of my first major sails as a (then) Sailor 3rd Class and it really gave me the confidence and belief that I can perform my job to the highest level,” he said, “it’s a confidence which I carry today and it allows me to seek more responsibilities and opportunities.”

As Ville de Québec went through its midlife refit, S1 Chan Chow wanted to challenge himself to keep learning. While spending time in the ship’s shore office, he looked for opportunities to broaden his own skills and abilities, as well as enrich the experience of the entire ship’s company, taking on the ship’s social media accounts and arranging extra recreational opportunities for the ship’s crew and their families, with social events such as beach days and barbecues.

He also took the lead during Indigenous Awareness Week in arranging for a local Elder to come and meet with the ship’s company, sharing stories and beliefs from their tradition, including offering a smudging ceremony.

“It was something I feel very lucky to have experienced,” he said. “It really emphasized how diverse we are as a ship’s company, and as a country, and how much stronger we are because of it.”

While taking on new challenges can be “daunting at first”, S1 Chan Chow said he’s learned that he gains an immeasurable sense of purpose and accomplishment in doing so, and it helps him feel more connected to his extended family back in Trinidad and Tobago.

“I draw a lot of strength from my family and my upbringing in Trinidad. My parents and grandparents had to work very hard for me to enjoy the opportunities that I have today… their hard work, humility and compassion really helped shape who I am today, and it motivates me to try to live a life that they, and I, can be proud of.”