Sue MacKenzie of the CBU Community Studies Department recently had a rare opportunity to visit with some CBU Alumni and gain some firsthand insight into the challenges of living in a very small community. Sue was invited to tour and speak with some of the officers and crew of the CCGS Captain Goddard M.S.M., CCGS M. Charles M.B. and CCGS Corporal McLaren M.M.V., three of the newest vessels in the Canadian Coast Guard Fleet, about the challenges of living and working at sea on these unique ships.
These Mid Shore Patrol Vessels (Hero Class) were recently built by Irving Shipbuilding Inc. and have a crew compliment of 9 -14 and regularly spend up to two weeks at sea at a time. Dedicated to Fisheries Conservation and Protection they have a total length of 43 metres and beam of just seven metres – so they don’t offer much in terms of living space.
“It’s a fascinating lifestyle with immense challenges,” says Mackenzie. “There is little privacy, with people living and working together in very small spaces, add in varying sea conditions and difficult shift schedules and the different tasks they perform from Fisheries patrol to Search and Rescue.”
Having taught Physical Education, Health and Wellness at the Canadian Coast Guard College in Westmount, Sue was aware of some of the challenges faced by mariners in regards to maintaining fitness levels at sea. This experience opened her eyes further to the reality of these barriers.
“Trying to maintain your physical fitness is challenging at the best of times. Here on board with little space to work out and no room to store or house regular fitness equipment, it’s not easy,” says Second Officer Sharon Cunningham (Bachelor of Technology Nautical Science ’14).
And it’s not just physical fitness that presents a challenge. Many aspects of living together in community are intensified on a ship. Personal space and privacy, the importance of good communication, functioning well as a team, establishing and maintaining relationships with those on board and on shore, resolving conflict, all of these things can be quite difficult.
Mackenzie adds, “We often talk about the importance of adopting an active lifestyle, and the need to be engaged with our health, intentional about our choices and our decisions – that’s what they are trying to do here – be intentional about investigating their options…”
Sue was pleased to have been able to catch up with several of her past students and offer up some new ideas and helpful advice. She will be submitting her recommendations on how to address some of these unique challenges and hopes to encourage and support Coast Guard Officers and Crew with some creative ways to enhance their repertoire of activities on board.
Having recently completed sea trials, the crews of the CCGS M. Charles M.B. and CCGS Captain Goddard M.S.M. are preparing to undergo travel to their home ports in Victoria, BC. The CCGS Corporal McLaren M.M.V. and the CCGC Peddle S.C. continue to conduct Fisheries Patrol here in the Maritimes.