For the better part of the last three years, Lt. (N) Amy Clements has been away from Canadian soil, sailing around the world as a member of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN).
Clements serves as a Maritime Surface and Sub-Surface Officer (MARS) and her job has led her to sail European seas and the Pacific Ocean. Her career with the military, however, began at the young age of 11 when she joined the cadets. It was through the cadet program that she was inspired to attend the Royal Military College of Canada.
“I was exposed to RMC through cadets because we did summer camps there and I fell in love with the campus and the atmosphere that they provided and started looking more into it,” recalled Clements.
With her mind made up to attend RMC, she started looking into RCN programs and was partly inspired by an aunt who also served in the RCN.
“It all seemed to fall into place, and it worked out really well,” noted Clements.
As a MARS Officer, it’s Clements’ job to help run the day-to-day tasks, be the eyes and ears of the ship and be there in case of any emergencies with the crew.
During her years in the RCN, she’s served aboard multiple ships and on multiple operations including Operation Nanook, carried out in the Yukon and Northwest Territories; Operation CARIBBE, the RCN’s effort in the multinational campaign against illicit trafficking in the Caribbean Sea and eastern Pacific Ocean; and the NATO exercise Trident Juncture.
She’s sailed to places like Scotland and Spain and even had the chance to visit some ports not on the tourist radar during her time on Operation CARIBBE, allowing her to get a real feel for the local culture.
“One of the very intriguing things about joining the military was the aspect of travel because we do go to so many different places,” observed Clements.
On the flip side, sailing for such a lengthy amount of time presents its own challenges as well. Namely, that Clements spends a great deal of time away from her family and friends.
“Being away from them for so long you miss a lot. I don’t have any kids, so that’s not an aspect, but I miss my dogs just as much, I feel like, as someone would miss their kids and my boyfriend. That’s the hardest part and the biggest challenge for being at sea for so long, just being away from family,” said Clements.
Clements also faces the challenge of typically being in a small minority when it comes to women on ships. For example, according to Clements, in a crew of approximately 245 aboard HMCS Halifax, there were only 25 women, including her.
“We’re making our mark, but at the same time we’re doing our job just like the next person,” added Clements.
After only a couple months ashore, Clements will be back at it again, this time sailing out to sea to put to practice what she’s learned in the simulator portion of her Fleet Navigating course.
Thanks to her experiences, Clements believes a career in the military can be fruitful for men and women.
“It’s a very rewarding career, if you stick with it, regardless if your male or female. You’re presented with so many opportunities that you can pursue and so many doors open for you. It’s never a linear progression. You can do whatever you want in this industry,” said Clements.