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Navy dropping 'draconian' policy on warship Wi-Fi, admiral says

Navy dropping 'draconian' policy on warship Wi-Fi, admiral says
From CBC - January 11, 2018

For the navy's most senior enlisted man it was a seminal moment.

It was in today's termsthe most ordinary of scenes, but the fact it was taking place in a mess aboard the frigate HMCS Charlottetown was extraordinary.

Chief Petty Officer 1st Class Michel Vigneault was amazed to see a sailor having a Facetime conversation with family back home on a smartphone.

The moment neatly captured the conundrum he and the top brass have faced in making the navy, which has for a decade been perpetually short of sailors, an appealing place to work.

The moment encapsulated two issues: the longstanding prohibition on Wi-Fi coverage aboard warships and the amount of time sailors are away from home.

Both have become central to the retention and recruiting makeover that is underway as part of the Liberal government's recently introduced defence strategy.

The ban on Wi-Fi was an obvious irritant.

"I realized then how important it is. Maybe not for my generation, because we did not grow up with that, but for younger sailors, being connected is very, very important," Vigneault told CBC News is a recent interview. "Everything we can do to enable that for the benefit of the sailor and his or her family is very, very important."

Infrequent chats

The navy has dropped what its top sailor called the "draconian" policy on the technology and has embarked on a program to install Wi-Fi on each of its warships.

"There are other navies that operate with NATO that have Wi-Fi in far more spaces than we do." saidVice-Admiral Ron Lloyd, commander of the Royal Canadian Navy. "And we are saying 'No you ca not have it aboard'period? That's crazy."

The U.S. navy began installing 4G LTE networks aboard its ships in 2012, while Canadians sailors have over the same period of time been forced to stow their cellphones while at seaparticularly when in secured areasand rely on the occasional satellite phone conversation with family at home.

Those infrequent chats conducted through "moralephones" were largely dependant the warship's jammed-up operational network.

Work-life balance

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