Sailor of the Year

From left, HMCS Charlottetown Coxn CPO1 Barry Eady, Fleet Chief CPO1 Daniel Mercier, MS Stewart Riggs, the Atlantic Fleet’s new Sailor of the Year, Cmdre Craig Skjerpen, and Charlottetown CO Cdr Nathan Decicco.

Sailor of the Year was to key to Charlottetown’s success through 2017

By Ryan Melanson,
Trident Staff

While HMCS Charlottetown was conducting a replenishment at sea in the Baltic during its recent Op REASSURANCE deployment, one of the probes fell out of place, causing fuel to burst out onto the ship. The immediate action of the ship’s rapid response team, including MS Stewart Riggs, ensured the potentially dangerous spill was contained and quickly cleaned up.

“Basically, we just did our jobs,” MS Riggs said, shortly after receiving the MARLANT Sailor of the Year Award on March 23 during a ceremony on the ship’s flight deck.

“We ensured there was no injuries, because casualties are the first priority, but then we cleaned the fuel up and got the job done safely.”

That successful task was just one of the many examples pointed to by his superiors in describing MS Riggs as a worthy recipient of the award, which is presented annually to a member of the Atlantic Fleet who consistently goes above and beyond their regular duties to support their ship and colleagues. Cmdre Craig Skjerpen, CCFL, and Fleet Chief CPO1 Daniel Mercier made the presentation, which comes with a plaque, gift cards to Falls Lake and the CFB Halifax Curling Club, and plenty of bragging rights.

With so many members of the ship’s company having excelled through 2017, particularly during Charlottetown’s six-month Op REASSURANCE stint, MS Riggs said he was surprised to be chosen, and appreciative of the recognition.

“A friend of mine, MS Amy Dumas, won this award last year, so it’s an honour to dethrone her and take the title for now.”

In addition to being a Marine Technician as his main trade and a member of the rapid response and helo crash rescue firefighting teams, he’s also described as an integral part of the ships’ dive team, going in the water multiple times to conduct poker gauge readings in rough diving conditions while deployed. He said his work as a diver was a highlight from his time at sea in 2017, specifically the chance to train with the team of Croatian Clearance Divers and building interoperability among allies.

The transition to the new Mar Tech trade was also a challenge for Charlottetown sailors last year, and MS Riggs gave a lot of credit for his success on that front belonged to the ship’s MSE department for their support to former Hull Techs as they progress through new training packages.

“We had a lot to catch up on for the new trade, and everyone working hard and supporting each other was a big part of getting that done,” he said.

Originally from British Columbia, he’s been on the East Coast for more than a decade, and has become leader in terms of local community involvement. He helped Charlottetown’s Children’s Wish team raise more than $40,000 during their annual run across PEI last year, and outside of work, he’s an active member of the volunteer Eastern Shore Ground Search and Rescue group.

“LS (now MS) Riggs consistently shows the qualities that we rely upon to form the foundation of our future fleet; skill, proficiency, initiative, tenacity and respect,” wrote Cdr Nathan Decicco, Charlottetown’s Commanding Officer, in nominating the sailor for the award.