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To sail the seven seas

Safety on mission top priority for commanding officer

Christine Kay
Northern News Services

Iqaluit (Aug 26/02) - Chris Ross is captain of HMCS Goose Bay, which recently paid a precedent-setting Iqaluit.

When asked what his responsibilities were on the ship, Ross has a hard time being specific. When he says everything -- he means it. Ross makes sure missions are accomplished and that safety always comes first.

NNSL Photo

Chris Ross is the captain of HMCS Goose Bay. He plans to stay in the navy for a while because he says it's just too fun to leave. - Christine Kay/NNSL photo

He has been in the Navy for just over 16 years and his rank is now commanding officer. Ross says before anyone becomes a commanding officer, they have to write a series of exams.

"It took me less than six months after I wrote the exam to be assigned to a ship as its commanding officer. You can call it being in the right place at the right time," he says.

In order to pass the exams, a naval officer must know the "rules of the road" as Ross says. These rules involve everything from the design and inner operations of the ship to administrative and sexual harassment policies.

Ross joined the navy initially because he needed a summer job. He's been at it full-time for the last eight years.

"If you no longer enjoy what you do -- you have to walk away," he says.

But that's not going to happen for Ross in the near future -- the job is just too much fun to leave. And as an added incentive, Ross says the pay in the Canadian navy has gone up over the last three or four years.

"We're seeing the world. We've been to Europe, Florida, New York and now Iqaluit. It's like a summer job," he said.

As far as the recent trip to Iqaluit goes, Ross says there were many challenges. He says everyone aboard the Goose Bay received good briefings before they left to come North, but there was still an element of the unknown.

"We've never operated in ice and we haven't been up here in a long time," he said.

For Ross, there's no better job. He plans to stick with it for a while, work hard and get what he can from each different experience. Ross's commitment to his job resembles the Goose Bay's motto -- "faithfulness."

He says the ship and the Navy give him as much as he puts into it.