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The HMCS Oriole is the longest-serving commissioned warship in Canadian fleet
When it’s wet outside, saltwater seeps through small holes soaking a pillow or unsealed item. Yet it’s nothing to fear says Adam Yardy, the coxswain on the HMCS Oriole.
“Every vessel takes on a little water, the crew just has to be cognitive of where gear and equipment are stored. We tell the young cadets to store clothes in sealed garbage bags, even the portholes have to be closed and tightened because the ship rolls,” he said, motioning to the open hatches on the 98-year-old vessel that was docked in Summerside on the weekend.
“It’s just small leaks, but sometimes when you breathe, the air quickly condenses and takes on its own weather pattern in here,” said Ordinary Seaman Dillan Jermey, who acknowledged this is his first sail in the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN), after following his great-grandfather’s footsteps.
“My great-grandfather served as a medic in the Second World War, including the Korean War, so I always wanted to join the military like him and help others. He was a great man that put others first.”
HMCS Oriole is the oldest and longest-serving commissioned ship in the RCN.
Launched in 1921 and commissioned into the RCN in 1952, Oriole remains true to her original design as an ocean racing yacht.
The ship sailed into Summerside marine terminal on Friday, captained by Summerside native Lieutenant Commander Drew Foran.
“There is that romance of being able to harness the wind without burning fossil fuels,” said Yardy. “And it’s exhilarating to sail this 92-tonne vessel, which will celebrate her centennial in two years.”
Oriole is used for leadership sailor training and visiting ports as a goodwill ambassador for the RCN.
“At the beginning of my career, I had a chance to touch the Oriole. I was an Ordinary Seaman on the West Coast and was awaiting training, but I never got to sail on this historic ship until 18-years later,” said Yardy, who joined the crew in April this year.
“Within 18 months of joining the military, I was in the Gulf of Oman during operation Apollo, conducting material and leadership interdiction operations, but as a young 19-year-old seaman I didn’t have a huge role.”
Yardy joined the military in 2001 and trained as a boatswain – a ship’s officer in charge of equipment and crew. His last deployment, in 2008, was on the HMCS Ville de Québec for Operation Artemis, sailing pirate-infested waters while escorting vessels from Kenya to Somalia’s capital Mogadishu.
“We didn’t see any pirates ourselves while escorting the vessels carrying food, but we saw the aftermath when one ship sailing away from Somalia was attacked. The pirates disengaged when they saw our vessel closing the gap across the horizon. The ship had some bullet holes, but luckily no loss of life.”
There is a quiet satisfaction among the crew after every successful mission.
Oriole’s next port of call will be Rimouski, Quebec.