She is a war fighter, a wife and a mother.
An Above Water Warfare Officer, Lieutenant (Navy) Anne-Marie Day challenges many people’s perceptions of what a young leader and war fighter looks like in today’s Royal Canadian Navy (RCN).
Married to another naval warfare officer and the mother of two children under five, Lt(N) Day says every day is like “juggling blind-folded”, but that her career has been well beyond her expectations.
“Not only has the RCN made a work-life balance possible, but it’s an entire lifestyle where I get to work with the best people and really enjoy what I do.”
Serving in Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Montréal during FORMIDABLE SHIELD 17, she had to assess “anything that floats or flies” to determine if it posed a threat, and prepare for live missile firings.
In almost every instance, a live missile firing is a culmination of a warship’s readiness program in preparation for deployment.
“This provides the Commander RCN with the necessary validation of a combat team’s ability to defend itself against the latest generation threats, as well as providing an opportunity for the Canadian Forces Maritime Warfare Centre (CFMWC) to validate and improve RCN tactics, doctrine and procedures,” says Captain (Navy) Jamie Tennant, Commanding Officer of the CFMWC.
As necessary as it is to be able to defend the ship in a stand-alone context, it is equally important to be able to integrate into a task group environment.
“It’s critical to reach a level of combat readiness and confidence in the combat systems such that the entire ship’s team is able to operate in a complex coalition environment and, within the anti-air warfare domain’s context, successfully engage the right targets at the right time so that threats to the force can be neutralized,” explains Commander James Allen, Director Naval Force Readiness.
“Some events, such as RIMPAC 2018, see RCN ships conduct their firings as part of a large at-sea scenario-based maritime engagement. This allows RCN units to further their combat skills development and readiness level through operations in a coalition environment.”
“During FORMIDABLE SHIELD, I worked in the Operations Room for 12 hours a day, monitoring radars to make assessments and recommend action to Command,” says Lt(N) Day.
To assist with the work, Lt(N) Day had two teams that contributed to the development of the recognized maritime picture. The Naval Electronic Sensor Operators and the Naval Combat Information Operators passed her information from fire control radar systems and sea/air search radars respectively, allowing her to make assessments and recommendations to Command as to whether or not targets should be engaged.
During the exercise, Montréal was working with 13 NATO partners in an at-sea scenario that was proof of concept for ballistic missile defence.
“Our goal was to defend the task group using Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles while there was a simultaneous ballistic missile engagement,” Lt(N) Day explains.
“The execution of the firing provided invaluable data about our combat management system, and also demonstrated the necessity of our readiness training.”
“The level of effort required from an entire ship’s team, across the departments, to prepare for a Missilex (missile firing) is substantial and requires a well-coordinated and executed schedule of activities,” explains Capt(N) Tennant.
“It also draws in the expertise of the RCN’s training organization and engineering maintenance facilities, who will ensure that the requisite collective training is delivered and the ship’s combat systems are technically groomed and ready.”
Lt(N) Day says that months of training are needed in advance of multiple firings such as these – brainstorming, discussing execution and resolving any “what ifs” that may arise.
FORMIDABLE SHIELD was a “black” or un-alerted launch, so the team didn’t know when the threat would be heading for the ship. Montréal’s entire crew, from the Operations Room to the Marine and Combat Systems teams, needed to be ready to react to Action Stations, as they would in a real threat environment.
“Due to the complexity of multiple simultaneous un-alerted engagements with NATO allies, as the Canadian representative, Montréal needed to ensure that we were professional and successful demonstrating our training and competencies,” she explains. “These added complexities necessitated extensive training with all members of the crew doing their part to ensure our success.”
Helping to move the ship’s readiness program to the next level, Lt(N) Day feels a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that her team was successful.