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Maritime Coastal Defence Vessels (MCDVs)


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What do the MCDV's really do? There's what the recruiting propaganda says, which seems a little different then what I've been told by a few people who have spent time on them. What did your ship(s) do while you were posted in them?

They are Naval Reserve boats, for use by Naval reserve units.

The Maritime Coastal Defence Vessels (MCDVs) were designed and built to commercial standards, although some key areas such as stability, flood control, manoueverability and ammunition storage are built to military specifications. The ships are very flexible -- inter-changeable modular payloads can be fitted for route survey, bottom object inspection and minesweeping. KINGSTON Class ships are crewed primarily by Naval Reservists.

Vital Roles

Coastal surveillance involves general naval operations and exercises, search and rescue, law enforcement, resource protection and fisheries patrols. The ships' Naval Reserve crews are augmented by two Regular Force naval electronic technicians. MCDVs offer an economical alternative to major surface units for routine but nevertheless important patrolling duties, as these are vital in maintaining our sovereignty and protecting our shores. The 12 vessels are divided equally between both coasts.

Leading-edge Communications and Engineering Technologies

The vessels' design accommodates three modular payloads: a mechanical minesweeping system (MMS), a route survey system, and a bottom object inspection vehicle. These can be on- or off-loaded within 12 hours. During Route Survey tasks, the ships deploy a partially controllable "fish" fitted with a side scan sonar. This towed system creates imagery and a database of the condition and objects on the seabed for subsequent investigation. The database can later be used during mine hunting tasks for example, to avoid investigating previously located and known objects. A remote operating vehicle (bottom object inspection) can also be deployed to closely investigate objects that have been observed.

The onboard fully integrated communication system includes VHF, UHF and HF radios as well as secure voice. Four 2450 Hp diesel engines drive two 3000 Hp electric motors, each turning an azimuthing thruster fitted with a five-bladed fixed-pitch propeller.

A 40mm Bofors anti-aircraft gun and two 50 calibre machine guns provide a basic level of self-defence.


Hey cheeky_monkey thanks for that but it's really just quoting official stuff. I'm more interested in what those who have spent time in them have to say about what they really did. Did you really do SAR, coastal surveillance, fisheries patrols etc? Did you sail for long periods, or day trip here and there? That kind of thing.

I'm just curious.

I imagine some of the official sounding missions do happen but I spent enough time on heavies way way back when to know that sometimes what the official word is and what really happens is not quite the same.
up and down the coast......small trip here, hom 2 weeks, small trip there......work on man overboard drills......clean the heads....tie knots and stand watch....
I'll give you an example of an average year for an average west coast MCDV. There are only 5 of the ships in routine at any given time... so here we go:

1 Jan - 7 Jan Leave Period
8 Jan -10 Feb MARS IV Consolidation/NRD/OJT - Local Area Deployment (Olympia, WA - Port Hardy, BC)
11 Feb-1 Apr ISSC/Esquimalt Available
2 Apr - 15 Apr NRD/Route Survey (Local Area)
16 Apr -  20 May Esquimalt Available/MARPAC Taskings/Workups/Sar Zone
21 May - 1 Jun Empire Days in Nanaimo/NRD/OJT
2 Jun - 15 Aug MARS IV Reserve/NRD/OJT - Out of Area Deployment (Alaska, San Diego, Mexico, Etc)
16 Aug - 1 Sep Leave Period
2 Sep - 15 Sep ISSC
16 Sep - 1 Nov MARS IV Regular Force/NRD/OJT - Local Area
2 Nov - 15 Nov Esquimalt Available
16 Nov - 15 Dec NRD
16 Dec - 20 Dec ISSC
20 Dec - 31 Dec Leave Period

This is a made up schedule, but is fairly commonplace for the 5 in routine ships.

As you can see, it equates to an average of 180-200 days at sea per ship (slow year)

During MARS IV deployments we will conduct any number of operations concurrently such as (but not limited to), Sar Zone, CFLC events, Surveillance, Dedicated RMP periods, WUPS assist for the FFG/DDH types, TGEX's, etc etc etc.

MCDV's are also required to conduct MARPAC taskings throughout the year. (No details here)

Additionally, the ships are required to sail in support of various community events... some of these include:

-Empire Days (Nanaimo)
-Bathtub Races (Nanaimo)
-Symphony Of Fire (Vancouver)
-Swiftsure Sail race (Victoria)
-Night of Lights (Victoria)
-Rose Festival (Portland, OR)
-Seafair (Seattle)
-and of course, Canada Day which is generally celebrated in some random US port (Juneau, Seattle, etc)

Further, one ship will generally be dedicated for BOIV operations, and one for Route Survey operations.

You might even get to add some sailing days for 2 weeks of Work Ups which usually includes a weekend in Seattle.

Foreign Ports (any port that is not Esquimalt) are fairly commonplace on 6 out of 8 weekends in your average 2 month program. Personally my most visited ports (in no particular order) are:
1. Seattle (by far the most)
2. Vancouver
3. Portland
4. Juneau
5. Skagway
6. Prince Rupert
7. Victoria
8. Olympia
9. Everett
10. San Diego

The ships are fairly busy.... so you'll never be bored! Naturally, each foreign port includes a Duty Free issue (up to one a month), which is always nice.

Any other questions, feel free to ask

LJ Kenward
Senior NCIOP
HMCS Yellowknife
This may seem silly.. but as a reserve unit...  how do you ensure you have enough people parading to sail? 180-200 days/year is fairly active at least reserve-wise...  what do you do when people don't show up?
That is great info Cronicbny

That's a typical "slow" year? That seems to rival the regs for total days at sea. My recruiting contact at the NRD said some reservists transfer to the reg force to get full time employment but also to have less sea time per year - I thought she was joking. Now I wonder if she was serious.

What have your busy years been like? No need to put up a list, just an idea of sea time and time for the average deployment.

It looks like the average deployment is about 2-4 weeks for west coast MCDV's, is that right?

OK Meridian The MCDV's are crewed by full time reservists on class c call out so if they don't show up they get run.

Also ex grunt I was one of those people who transfered over to the reg force to get more pay and much less sea time.
MCDV's are crewed by 31 people on Class C at a minimum. Most of those contracts are over 1 year, and generally 2-3 years. If people dont "show up" they are simply run and replaced. Unfit sea, however, is a different story, but I've had enough beer to make me think discussing that now would prove reprehensible.

Evening all
MCDV's also have Reg Force crew members on board as well.

I think there are at least 3-4 members that are Reg Force as there is no Reserve equivalent for the trades available.

There are only 2 reg forces members normally, the PO2 electrician, and a MS  NET. Hopefully that answers your question sheerin.
I believe they do have some 2-lt's on board.  Don't the reg-forces MARS kidlets do some training on those??
Sheerin said:
Are they commanded by reservists?

Yes they are. Just as RSS staff at an Army Reserve Unit would receive their Evaluations from a Reservist.
sledge said:
There are only 2 reg forces members normally, the PO2 electrician, and a MS   NET. Hopefully that answers your question sheerin.

Lets set this straight...it is a P2 Electrician and either a MS NET or a MS NW Tech.....our NW Techs are just as qualified for the gear involved.
The "core" crew of an MCDV consists of: 
CO (LCdr), XO (LCdr/Lt(N)),
OpsO (Lt(N)), NavO (Lt(N)), DeckO (SLt),
Coxn (P1or C2),
Chief Engineer (C2), Engineering Officer of the watches x3 (P2/MS), Engineering Roundsmen x3 (AB/LS/MS),
Sr. Communicator (MS/P2), Communicators x3 (AB/LS/MS),
Chief Bosun Mate (P2), Bosuns x5 (AB/LS/MS),
Chief Cook (P2/MS), cooks x2 (AB/LS/MS),
electrician (P2), tech of some sort (weapons/electronics MS). 

Ship can hold 47 pers in total, so they usually fill up the remaining bunks with OJT's or extra BWK's (bridge watchkeepers)

Just to add from before, when an MCDV is embarked with route survey gear, their sea time for the year goes up greatly, often reaching to 260 days.
navymich said:
Ship can hold 47 pers in total, so they usually fill up the remaining bunks with OJT's or extra BWK's (bridge watchkeepers)

There is also a POD that can be put on the quarterdeck to allow for some additional accommodations.