While the sight of a boat equipped with sizeable machine guns gliding along Okanagan Lake may have caused concern in the past few days, there’s no need to fear.
They aren’t loaded.
Master Sailor Daniel Cramer offered that reassurance Tuesday when speaking to reporters about the Naval Security Team’s training and recruitment mission in the Okanagan.
“When we fully kick out one of our defenders for operations, we have two different machine guns mounted in the forward section of the boat,” he said.
“We’ve got a C6 (machine gun) and the C9 (machine gun) have mounted back aft and you know they’re effective. Oh, and we have no ammo here today just to be clear.”
Cramer and the rest of the naval security team is in the Okanagan for a combination of public outreach and trials of their ability to deploy remotely.
“While we do a lot of training in Esquimalt, which is close to Victoria B.C., this gives us the opportunity to see if we took all of our assets and our people, picked them up and dropped them somewhere else, how effectively would we be able to do the things that we train for?” he said.
“It’s very easy for us to get the support of all of our units because we work so closely together when we are at home, but how well can we do all of the things that we trained for if we don’t have so much help so close at hand?”
To figure that out they’re doing some navigation and tactical training.
“We’re doing a certain amount of tactical movements, coming up with different formations and cycling different boats into different positions and just seeing how smoothly we can facilitate all of those motions,” he said.
There are 19 personnel on the lake with three different pontoon boats.
And they have a booth set up looking for “eager people who like to work hard and have fun doing important work.”
Cramer explained people come to the decision to join their ranks from all different walks of life. Cramer originally joined the Royal Canadian Navy and his trade was hull technician.
In that job, people learn everything from welding, carpentry, air conditioner and heater maintenance, sheet metal work, firefighting and flood response.
“As I progressed through that trade I had the opportunity to appreciate how much respect I had for…those working in the deck department because you know, they’re the professional sailors and they get the opportunity to drive the boats, handle all of the seamanship evolutions,” he said.
He said he “just really appreciated that it was hard work that had real impact. “
For those who are interested, they will be at the docks at the Rotary Marina in Kelowna until Saturday.