Sailor Profile: Leading Seaman Erick Saenz

Leading Seaman Erick Saenz member aboard HMCS Charlottetown, off the coast of Iqaluit, as part of Op Nanook on August 21, 2018. Photograph By: Avr Tanner Musseau-Seaward

By Lieutenant (Navy) Linda Coleman

For Leading Seaman Erick Saenz, joining the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), or any military, came as a surprise. “I grew up in Costa Rica, a country that has no military. The thought of joining never even crossed my mind.”

That all changed when Erick and his family moved from San José to Toronto to find a better life when he was just 12 years old. While in high school, Erick learned about the CAF when members went to visit his school. “I was really interested in the army at first,” said Erick. But upon graduation, he ended up dabbling in construction work and truck driving before making his way to a CAF recruiting centre.

Erick ended up joining the Royal Canadian Navy in 2009 as a Weapons Engineering-Communications Technician. His role is to maintain and repair both external and internal communications equipment onboard the ship. “I love fixing the equipment and making a difference. I also like working with great people every day and being in different parts of the world representing Canada.”

In May 2018, Erick was in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba, with HMCS Charlottetown when he acted as the translator during a diplomatic port visit with the aim of strengthening the relationship between navies. “It was great to meet and work with the Cubans. Even though we’re not from the same country, there’s certainly a Latin connection. It was an honour to facilitate communication between my Command Team and Cuban delegates.”

A few months later, Erick ended up in the Arctic for Operation NANOOK, Canada’s largest military operation in the North, building on the CAF’s ability to operate in austere and challenging environments and to provide a rapid response to national safety and security issues.

“This is my first time to the Arctic and it’s a beautiful place. Just seeing the icebergs, the landscape, and breathing that cold Arctic air – it’s like being on another planet,” he said.

What was his favourite part about deploying north? “The food festival in Nuuk, Greenland where we met some locals, who were very nice people, and ate some seal and reindeer meet, which was a unique experience.”

Outside of work, Erick is an avid soccer player. He’s part of the Canadian Forces Base Halifax men’s soccer team and will be participating in the national tournament at Borden, Ont., for the second time.

Erick says that the navy has provided him with a great and stable job for his family. But like every job, it comes with its challenges. “The most challenging part about the navy is being away from family. Other than that, it’s a cool job.”

Erick now resides in Halifax with his wife and two children. They make it back to Costa Rica at least once a year to visit family and enjoy some quality beach time.

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