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Royal Canadian Navy, coast guard short hundreds of sailors

The HMCS Calgary is seen behind sailors during a change of command ceremony at CFB Esquimalt, in Esquimalt, B.C., Wednesday, June 24, 2015. The Royal Canadian Navy and Canadian Coast Guard say they hundreds more sailors as recruitment has failed to keep pace with attrition.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

OTTAWA — The Royal Canadian Navy and Canadian Coast Guard say they need hundreds of more sailors as recruitment has failed to keep pace with attrition.

The coast guard says up to 15 per cent of its positions are currently vacant, representing a shortfall of roughly 1,000 people.

While that alone is cause for concern, the organization released a business plan last year that noted the workforce is getting older — and recruitment is “one of the most difficult challenges.”

Royal Canadian Navy commander Vice-Admiral Art McDonald faces the same challenge: getting more young men and women to sign up to sail with the navy, which is short roughly 850 members.

The shortfall is manageable now, but McDonald says the concern is what would happen should the navy find itself needing to dramatically ramp up its operations — something that can’t be ruled out given the current state of the world.

The navy and coast guard are not alone when it comes to difficulties recruiting new sailors as the head of the Chamber of Marine Commerce says Canada’s civilian marine industry is facing a shortfall of around 5,000 people over the next decade.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 29, 2020.

The Canadian Press