June 9, 2021 – What distinguishes a submarine deployment from a surface ship deployment?
For CDR William Matheson, Commanding Officer of HMCS Windsor, the answer is clear.
“That’s simple, the submarine.”
While this is evident, he is only partly kidding. Everything onboard the submarine comes with its own interpretation. Showering, using the washroom (called the “heads” in Navy-speak), sleeping, watch rotations, meals, communications, or how you interact with the outside world — it’s all similar to the rest of the Navy but…different.
“There really is a simple joy in having a hurricane pass over top of the submarine to gently rock you to sleep 150 meters below the surface,” noted Cdr Matheson.
HMCS Windsor is one of Canada’s two submarines based out of Halifax. It has been deployed throughout the Atlantic, in support of NATO operations, visiting countries in Europe and various ports throughout the United States, as well as operating in the Mediterranean. Currently, HMCS Windsor is working towards taking part in Exercise Cutlass Fury 21. This is a Canadian-led multinational exercise taking place this fall off the East Coast of Canada.
In preparation for the exercise, HMCS Windsor has recently spent some time in the Fred Sherwood trainer, the Victoria-class submarine team trainer, to be ready for the more complex tactical scenarios which will be presented throughout the exercise.
“Being employed on a submarine is an opportunity of a lifetime, and being a commanding officer is an experience that is truly icing on that cake,” adds Cdr Matheson. “Being able to lead my crew through training and participation in exercises like Cutlass Fury is an unparalleled opportunity. The crew is able to do the job they love and these exercises give newer submariners a first chance to gain real operational experience working together with surface ships for collective training.”
Cutlass Fury will enable the submarine and surface ships to train with, and against, each other in a simulated environment. They will face realistic tactical scenarios to test their respective defences against both surface and sub-surface threats. This requires the crew to work together to overcome these challenges, but this teamwork is one of the many factors that contributes to the camaraderie found among submariners.
“Ensuring the smooth operational employment of a submarine during exercises is a massive team effort. Beyond the training we are currently doing to prepare, it gives my crew the chance to consolidate and apply what they have learned in a truly dynamic environment,” says Cdr Matheson.
Although Exercise Cutlass Fury will not take place until this fall, team training has been a priority for Windsor since the submarine finished its Transitional Docking Period this past February.
“Our training ensures that Windsor’s crew are positioned to effectively and efficiently do what subs do best,” concludes Cdr Matheson. “We’ll use stealth to observe, evade and hunt surface and sub-surface threats – while also providing training for the surface ships that surpasses any simulation.”
Following the exercise, HMCS Windsor will move into a scheduled maintenance period which will include a battery change. Upon completion, the crew will shift their focus to testing the newly fitted Mark 48 7AT torpedo and completing first-of-class firings in 2022.