Reunion at sea for former Protecteur sailors

Former HMCS Protecteur Crew Members onboard MV Asterix while RASing with USS Michael Murphy on September 08. Left to right: PO1 Major, LS Gozzola, MS Clark, LS Lalonde, MS Robillard.

Former sailors from HMCS Protecteur engine room fire reunite at sea with USS Michael Murphy

By PO1 Nicolas Major,
NRU Asterix Senior Naval Communicator

After a catastrophic engine room fire on board HMCS Protecteur left her adrift and without power on February 27, 2014, USS Michael Murphy was first on the scene.

RAS with USS Michael Murphy off the coast of Northern Australia.

When they arrived, the day after the fire, it gave us a sense of relief. Help had arrived on location.

After six days of towing by USS Michael Murphy, USS Chosin and USNS Sioux, Protecteur was brought alongside Pearl Harbor. The efforts of Michael Murphy earned them a CAF Unit Commendation for their immediate response to Protecteur and the family members embarked. Four years later, during Exercise KAKADU 2018 off the coast of Australia, five of the former crewmembers from the Protecteur fire are supporting replenishment at sea (RAS) operations to refuel USS Michael Murphy from Protecteur’s replacement, MV Asterix.

When I was told that we would be transferring fuel to USS Michael Murphy during Ex Kakadu 2018, fond memories came back of the amazing support the American destroyer provided to us after the fire onboard Protecteur. Without hesitation, they sent over water, Gatorade and medical support. They even took care of our loved ones as they received 17 civilian family members that had embarked as part of a morale and outreach building tiger cruise. They expressed later that they were treated like family onboard the American destroyer.

On September 08, the five members of Naval Replenishment Unit Asterix, MS Bertrand Robillard, MS Andrew Clark, LS Robert Lalonde, LS Iain Gozzola, and I, were all at our stations during the RAS, supporting the ship that had supported them during those harrowing days. It was now the former crew’s turn to provide a service to the USS Michael Murphy. LCdr James Classen, CO NRU Asterix, was the first to welcome the Michael Murphy. He passed words of appreciation to the US crew over the radio while providing instructions to bring the ship into the RAS station. After over 200 cubic metres of fuel were transferred, all five former Protecteur crew members couldn’t help to but smile and feel a sense of gratitude for the ship that shared a page of RCN history with them. It was an honour to be sailing again in company with USS Michael Murphy.

On behalf of the former crew of Protecteur and the crew of MV Asterix, thank you again, USS Michael Murphy, for the service and support you provided to the sailors of the RCN. We strongly believe that your motto “Lead the Fight” suits you well!