I am SLt Samuel Kehler, a Diving Officer and Naval Warfare Officer aboard HMCS Halifax

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I am SLt Samuel Kehler, a Diving Officer and Naval Warfare Officer aboard HMCS Halifax. My team and I ensure first line hull maintenance of the ship and inspect the vessel for any small explosives that may be planted by enemy swimmers in foreign ports

Transcript

I am Sub-Lieutenant Samuel Kehler. I am a Diving Officer and Naval Warfare Officer on-board HMCS (Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship) Halifax.

I grew up in a small town, so nobody really worked in the military. I didn’t really know anybody that was in there.

Second last year of high school I had a friend that really wanted to join and he ended up passing away with cystic fibrosis. So when I went into university, a couple of years into university I decided well Chris wasn’t able to join so it’s going to be me that’s going to be going into the military and doing what he wanted to do for him.

When I got posted to HMCS Halifax I got put in the position of Assistant Diving Officer. And now a lot of the job involves running the dive team. Making sure we’re all diving at the appropriate times, keeping our qualifications up to date. We have to dive once every ninety days or we’ll lapse into uncertification. And as well just making sure all of our kit is maintained and that we’re meeting all of the combat readiness requirements for the ship.

A big role, as a diver, on an HMC Ship is that we will be doing first line hull maintenance. So that means going underwater doing hull inspections, repairing minor pieces underneath the ship, and doing other things like ensuring the propellers are spinning properly and that the shaft lines aren’t wearing out too soon.

That’s the major maintenance part of our job, but we also have a larger security part. The reason ships’ divers were first brought onto Canadian warships was for limpet mine disposal. A limpet mine’s a small mine that can be placed on any ship from an enemy swimmer and what our job is is to go down, inspect the whole ship for a limpet mine and if we find one our job is to get it off the ship without exploding. It’s not a job that happens often, it’s not a thing that happens all the time but it’s a skill that’s required of a ship so that if she goes into a foreign port and there’s a threat made, we can ensure that the ship stays safe both here and away where we don’t have the local support like we would in Canada.

When we do go out and sail, and a lot of people don’t recognize; they see the nine month deployments, they see the six month deployments abroad. What they don’t see is the two week sails and the three week sails that go up along Canada’s coasts. The Maritime fishery patrols where we patrol our fishing interests in Canada and in the Arctic. They don’t see the Operation NANOOKs that our smaller vessels, our Reservist vessels, go up and do and protect our national interests to the North.

So a lot of interest gets placed on these large nine-month deployments where you’re fighting piracy in Somalia or you’re monitoring Russian submarines in the Mediterranean. But they really don’t notice that a lot of our work happens in Canada on a daily basis.

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