Working as a Meteorological Technician at sea
By Sgt Holly Wortman,
The life of a Meteorological Technician (Met Tech) at sea is a somewhat unique experience. We provide weather support to multiple departments for different types of operations onboard. Everything from flight operations, gun shoot exercises, replenishments at sea, navigational planning for transiting entrances to various harbours around the world, and even giving the ship’s company a heads up when we’re in for rough seas. We are briefers, observers, and forecasters each and every day.
As a Met Tech in general, each day ashore has the potential to bring its own set of challenges, as the weather is constantly changing. But at sea, we get the added bonus of forecasting for a moving platform, often in conditions where we have limited internet capabilities. On the ship, we don’t have all of the tools and resources we do onshore, so we have to rely on our knowledge, our situational awareness (and honestly, sometimes, our gut and intuition), and be ready for any changes that may come up.
In addition to the weather support, the Met Techs on board Royal Canadian Ships also act as the postal orderlies. When deployed, we assist members in mailing out letters, postcards, and parcels to their loved ones, and we work with the logistics department to ensure the ship is set up to receive care packages while we’re away. These care packages are often referred to as “morale mail,” as it is a significant boost to morale on board when sailors receive gifts and treats from everyone back home.
This is my second deployment as the Senior Meteorological Technician in Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Halifax with Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 on Operation Reassurance (I deployed from January to July in 2021 as well). As a Met Tech, the two experiences have been very similar, but as a sailor, they couldn’t be more different. Last year, COVID-19 still had a firm grip on the world, and for most of our port visits, we were unable to go ashore. We worked together as a ship to make the port visits as much fun as possible, but visiting so many beautiful countries, so full of history and culture, and being unable to explore, could be hard at times. This time around, we have the opportunity to go ashore, do some sightseeing, try the local cuisine, and essentially experience everything I was looking forward to when I heard that I was posted to a ship.
As unique and challenging as our job at sea is, it is also extremely rewarding, and my time posted to HMCS Halifax has been the highlight of my career thus far.