By Lieutenant Sheila Tham
Lt Sheila Tham is a Public Affairs Officer who has spent her five-year career split between the Royal Canadian Air Force and Canadian Army. Believing this deployment with the Royal Canadian Navy on Operation CARIBBE would round out her career experience, she documented the following first impressions of sailing and the reality of operational travel during COVID-19.
Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Summerside departed Halifax on October 26, 2020, headed for the Caribbean Sea as part of Operation (Op) CARIBBE, Canada’s participation in U.S.-led enhanced counter-narcotics operations in the Caribbean Sea and the eastern Pacific Ocean. Canada often conducts multiple iterations of Op CARIBBE in a year — the last deployment was with HMC Ships Nanaimo and Whitehorse earlier this year.
On March 18, 2020, Maritime Component Command ordered that HMC Ships Nanaimo and Whitehorse cease activities under Operation CARIBBE and return to Canada earlier than planned due to the worldwide spread of COVID-19. The current deployment of HMCS Summerside, which departed Halifax on October 26, 2020, is the first Op CARIBBE since, and came with a myriad of new considerations and precautions to ensure the safety of personnel.
The members of Summerside were required to adhere to self-isolation measures prior to sailing along with undergoing a COVID-19 test prior to departure. The same conditions were given to the United States Coast Guard (USCG) Law Enforcement…