Outgoing Asterix CO felt right at home on supply ship
By Joanie Veitch,
A successful replenishment-at-sea (RAS) requires planning, precision and plenty of prior practice. And although there’s always inherent risk involved in the operation, LCdr Amanda Jayne sees a measure of grace and poetry in the maneuver as well.
“It’s a fine dance between the two ships as they meet in the middle of the ocean. Everyone knows that at this moment, this signal will come across the radio and the ship will be right there. It’s beautiful,” said LCdr Jayne.
LCdr Amanda Jayne was Commanding Officer of Naval Replenishment Unit (NRU) Asterix from July 2021 to February 2022, when LCdr Kyle Hopper took the helm.
Now Executive Officer of HMCS Ville de Quebec, LCdr Jayne said that although she was in command of the ship for less than a year, she never felt out of place.
“I like to joke that I grew up on the tankers… it was good to be back on the right side of a RAS,” she said.
The “tankers” she’s referring to are the two Auxiliary Oil Replenishment (AOR) ships that were operated by the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) until recently — HMCS Protecteur and HMCS Preserver. Decommissioned in 2015 and 2016 respectively, the AORs supplied fuel and other necessary supplies to RCN ships at sea.
In 2018, the RCN entered a five-year agreement with Federal Fleet Services to lease Motor Vehicle (MV) Asterix, a commercial container ship built in Germany and converted into an RCN supply ship by Davie Shipbuilding in Quebec.
Operating with a core civilian crew, the NRU is the military component that oversees RAS operations aboard Asterix.
“Replenishment-at-sea, that’s the business, that’s the mission,” said LCdr Jayne.
Along with refueling warships, Asterix carries other cargo and supplies to ships at sea, such as spare parts and mechanical equipment, food and medical supplies… whatever is needed while a ship is at sea.
“When a request comes in, we respond. We look at what we can provide… it takes a lot of coordination and planning,” said LCdr Jayne.
Growing up in Grand Falls-Windsor, NL, LCdr Jayne joined the Royal Canadian Navy in 2002. Initially signing on as a marine engineering officer, partway through her engineering studies at Royal Military College (RMC), LCdr Jayne realized that it wasn’t the career for her. She transferred to naval warfare officer training, completing a science degree at RMC before going on to maritime studies at Memorial University through the Continuing Education Officer Training Program (CEOTP).
“A few years in and I was on a whole new trajectory. It was tough at the time, but now, at 19 years in (RCN service), I can see it was for the better,” she said.
Her first fleet posting was with HMCS Preserver, where LCdr Jayne did most of her naval warfare officer training. Between Preserver and Protecteur she was “on the tankers” for about six years.
“I grew up on those ships. Those were my formative years as a young officer so I was really happy to be back doing a RAS again,” she said.
Life onboard Asterix
At more than 182 metres in length, Asterix is a big ship — the biggest in the Navy.
The ship’s crew is made up of more than 100 people, a mix of civilian personnel from Federal Fleet Services and the military component — the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) mission specialists who make up NRU Asterix.
While the civilian crew look after the operation and maintenance of the ship — including food services and cleaning — military personnel handle RAS taskings, provide force protection for the ship and helicopter operations.
“It’s a very integrated crew. We all have one goal, one focus and one mission,” said LCdr Jayne. “The spirit the crew brought to everything they did was invigorating.”
Now as second-in-command with HMCS Ville de Quebec, LCdr Jayne said she’s looking forward to the challenge of building up the ship’s unit as the frigate comes out of refit and gets ready to sail, scheduled for 2023.
Having spent a lot of time at sea over the past two years, she’s also looking forward to being home a bit more with her husband, Matthew, and two-year-old daughter Elizabeth.
“It’s challenging, balancing family life with work but I try to really focus on taking the time to be with my family when I can. I benefit from having a very supportive partner. I couldn’t do it without him.”
Reflecting on 19 years of service so far, LCdr Jayne said she’s seen a lot of changes in her time in the Navy.
“There are far more female officers now than when I started, and that’s a good thing,” she said. “We deserve those roles as much as anyone else. From my experience, what women bring to the table is significant.”