Exchange Officer gains nautical miles and a new RCN family
By Lt(N) Linda Coleman,
Sailing across the Atlantic is quite routine for the RCN, however for many African nations; it’s a rare occurrence. So for SLt Lassina Traoré, a member of the National Navy of the Ivory Coast, to spend five weeks sailing with the RCN to West Africa is a pretty big deal.
“I am most likely the one person who traveled the most nautical miles in my navy,” said SLt Traoré upon conclusion of his time with HMCS Summerside. “It was a once in a lifetime opportunity for me to sail on a Canadian warship and, most of all, crossing the Atlantic Ocean.”
As part of Op PROJECTION West Africa, the RCN offered spaces for two exchange officers from Africa on each ship, HMCS Kingston and HMCS Summerside. One was SLt Traoré, and the other an exchange officer from the Ghana Navy. SLt Traoré was selected among all the junior officers of the National Navy of the Ivory Coast to participate in this exchange.
His adventure began in Halifax mid-January, one week prior to their departure for Op PROJECTION. While in Halifax, he met the Command Teams and crews of both ships, as well as Commodore Craig Skjerpen, Commander Canadian Fleet Atlantic, who welcomed him to the fleet. The junior officers also showed him around Halifax to experience traditional Maritime hospitality.
During the deployment, SLt Traoré stood watches and participated in ship evolutions. “He participated in multiple events on board, including our small arms shoot. When we approached his home country, he provided important advice on navigation and pattern of life in the area. We also had some very interesting conversations with him about his home, politics in his country, and about Canada,” said Lt(N) Guillaume Desjardins.
“Ce fut une occasion précieuse pour moi d’acquérir des expériences nouvelles avec vous dans les eaux bleues et les opérations côtières, » said Slt Traoré. « J’ai suivi avec beaucoup d’intérêts les procédures opérationnelles de la MRC en matière de navigation, de matelotage, de veille et de leadership avec les navires de classe Kingston. Ces expériences seront très constructives pour moi dans l’exercice de mes fonctions. »
Back home, SLt Traoré is the Executive Officer of coastal defence vessel EMERGENCE P1401, the first out of three coastal defence vessels that the National Navy of the Ivory Coast received in 2014.
“Je saurai faire de meilleurs propositions à mes supérieurs sur l’architecture de votre navire, l’organisation des services, l’harmonie entre les membres d’équipage que je n’ai cesser d’apprécier, » added SLt Traoré.
SLt Traoré disembarked in his home country when HMC Ships Kingston and Summerside arrived in Abidjan on March 4. Although happy to be home to return to his wife and children, SLt Traoré left on a high note.
« Je souhaite que ces échanges puissent continuer pour permettre aux jeunes officiers comme moi d’acquérir de nouveaux savoirs-faire et d’avoir l’expérience d’une longue période de navigation et de présence en mer. I will never forget this experience and the crew of HMCS Summerside.”
“SLt Traoré will certainly be missed but we hope he knows that he has a new family back in Canada now, his HMCS Summerside family,” said LCdr Emily Lambert, Commanding Officer of HMCS Summerside.
HMC Ships Kingston and Summerside are deployed on Op PROJECTION West Africa until mid-April 2018, engaging with local communities and contributing to regional stability and security.