Canadian Navy offers ‘no strings attached’ program in hopes of recruiting sailors

The Royal Canadian Navy is launching a “no strings attached” program in hopes of recruiting new sailors through a trial contract.

Launched Friday, the new “Naval Experience Program” allows Canadian citizens and permanent residents to experience the Navy on a one-year contract.

Following the year-long period, participants can choose to continue working in the Royal Canadian Navy, either full-time or part-time. They’re also free to choose to transfer to another element or leave the Navy entirely.

“Life in the Navy can be demanding and challenging at times,” navy commander Vice-Admiral Angus Topshee said in a statement. “It’s not for everyone and that’s why the new ‘Naval Experience Program’ gives participants the chance to experience life in the Navy, for one year, no strings attached.”

Participants will go through an eight-week basic military training and four-week naval environmental training. They will join Navy fleets on either the east or west coast, in Halifax or Esquimalt, BC

After completing both training programs, new sailors will have the opportunity to complete common tasks on a ship, as well as shadow various jobs both at sea and ashore.

According to the media release, participants will receive the same pay and benefits as any other Canadian Armed Forces recruits.

On top of being a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, eligible participants must be between the ages of 16 and 57. Anyone younger than 18 must get permission from their parent or guardian.

Royal Canadian Navy's Halifax-class frigate HMCS Vancouver takes part in the International Fleet Review to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the foundation of Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), at Sagami Bay, off Yokosuka, south of Tokyo, Japan Nov.  6, 2022. REUTERS/Issei Kato/Pool

Royal Canadian Navy’s Halifax-class frigate HMCS Vancouver takes part in the International Fleet Review to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the foundation of Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), at Sagami Bay, off Yokosuka, south of Tokyo, Japan Nov. 6, 2022. REUTERS/Issei Kato/Pool

People on social media had mixed reactions about the announcement of the program.

“Sounds like an amazing opportunity,” one Instagram user commented.

“Don’t like this!! I think it’s silly,” another added. “Play soldier for year and leave. Wasted money!”

“Holy, the good idea fairy came through and did well,” a Twitter user penned.

“Good stuff, we should tailor this towards the Cadet program as a gap year when they finish high school,” another suggested.

“You keep talking about this navy of tomorrow, yet you don’t care for the navy of today,” someone shared. “Soon enough you won’t have a navy at all.”

The program comes as all parts of the Canadian Armed Forces struggle with recruiting and retaining new members.

In September, Topshee told The Canadian Press that 17 per cent of navy positions — around 1,400 sailors — are vacant.

“Describing the current crewing and staffing shortages with ‘crisis’ is probably the right word across the navy,” Topshee noted. “We need more people. We need them as quickly as we can get them.”

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