Regular and reserve
One can serve in the Navy in the Regular Force or the Naval Reserve. The main differences between the two relate to time commitments, types of positions and salary.
Joining the Regular Force involves an initial time investment of three to nine years, not including any subsidized training or education. This is called Variable Initial Engagement; the time varies depending on the occupation chosen. One can remain in the Navy after this initial stretch, moving into an Indefinite Period of Service or a Continuing Engagement.
Applicants must have at least a grade-10 education, and additional training is provided. Entering after finishing high school allows one to take advantage of education subsidies. The Navy also accepts students who have already graduated or, in some cases, are in their final year of technical school, college or university.
There are numerous positions within the Regular Force, including boatswains, or bosuns, and stewards. Bosuns have several supervisory roles but are notable for their anchor responsibilities; stewards are in charge of hospitality and food services for the ship.
Naval reservists usually have a much smaller time commitment, as they work one or two nights a week and one weekend a month while continuing with their civilian livelihoods. However, there are some who work full time with the Navy as well. Reservists can serve as long as they like and are required to give 30 days’ notice when leaving. They earn approximately 85 percent of what sailors in the Regular Force do but are now eligible for pensions, which was not the case in the past.
Many reservists are students, as the paid positions work well around school schedules and offer tuition-reimbursement plans. Reservists can also go on missions abroad but, unlike members of the Regular Force, are not required to do so.
Fifteen occupations are open to reservists, including Intelligence Officer, Naval Combat Information Operator and Port Inspection Diver. Reservists often serve on the coastal defence vessels, patrolling, surveying and training.
When not serving on board, reservists are based at one of the 24 Naval Reserve Divisions (NRDs) across the country. Each division is given a shiplike name, such as HMCS Nonsuch, the NRD in Edmonton. The reserve unit buildings are also referred to as “stone frigates.” The idea is to create the spirit of a ship so that crews get used to working together as a team.
This interactive map allows users to select specific areas throughout Canada to learn details on the Naval presence for that area. Each area includes a personal profile of certain significant figures in the Canadian Navy.