Sonar Operators compile and analyze acoustic intelligence information. The Sonar Operator may be employed in three distinct areas of Anti-Submarine Warfare operations: surface ships, submarines, or Integrated Undersea Surveillance.
As part of the ships intelligence gathering team, Sonar Operators have the following primary responsibilities:
- Operate all active and passive sonars, sonar simulators, communication equipment, bathythermograph equipment, sonobuoys and data transmission systems
- Perform function checks on equipment by using built-in test equipment, integrated test equipment, and basic on-line fault diagnostic procedures
- Assist in the development of command decisions by compiling and analyzing sonar and intelligence data
- Gather, evaluate and identify the significant features of oceanographic data
- Convert analyzed oceanographic and acoustic data into comprehensive reports
- Maintain status boards, charts and watchkeeping records, as well as geographical, operational and tactical plots
Sonar Operators spend much of their career on board ships with home ports in either Halifax, Nova Scotia, or Esquimalt, British Columbia. They experience the unique adventures and challenges that come with work at sea, such as working in small spaces, on open deck surfaces, in a variety of weather conditions.
As with all sea-going personnel, Sensor Operators work with their fellow shipmates in out-of-occupation duties such as sentry or lookout duty, line handler for replenishment at sea, and as ship hand for entering and leaving harbour. They participate in Search and Rescue events and person-overboard emergencies, act as a member of the ships emergency response team for security watches, and routinely perform ship maintenance and repair. During emergency procedures, they fight fires as members of a fire attack team, and provide damage control in the case of a breach to the hull. If necessary, Sensor Operators may serve as a member of the naval boarding party to inspect the cargo of suspect vessels and detain the vessels crew during inspections.
Pay and career development
The starting salary for fully trained Sonar Operators is $49,400 per year; however, depending on previous experience and training the starting salary may be higher. Sonar Operators who demonstrate the required ability, dedication and potential are selected for opportunities for career progression and advancement.
Related civilian occupations
Although this occupation has no direct related civilian job, the experience, skills and leadership abilities developed in this position are highly valued by employers.
Basic military qualification
The first stage of training is the Basic Military Qualification course, or Basic Training, held at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec. This training provides the basic core skills and knowledge common to all trades. A goal of this course is to ensure that all recruits maintain the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) physical fitness standard; as a result, the training is physically demanding.
Naval environmental training
Naval recruits attend the Canadian Forces Fleet School either in Esquimalt, British Columbia, or Halifax, Nova Scotia, for approximately five weeks. Training includes the following topics:
- Naval history and organization
- Shipboard firefighting and damage control
- Shipboard safety
- Watchkeeping duties
Basic occupational qualification training
Sonar Operators attend the Canadian Forces Fleet School in Esquimalt, British Columbia. Training takes approximately 25 weeks and includes the following topics:
- Operation of active and passive acoustic sonars
- Analysis of passive acoustic sound sources
- Operation of auxiliary acoustic equipment
- Physics of sound as applied to military oceanography
Sonar Operators may be offered the opportunity to develop specialized skills through formal courses and on-the-job training, including:
- Ships team diver
- Ships team diving supervisor
- Naval boarding party
- Leadership and management courses
- Instructional techniques
As they progress in their career, Sonar Operators who demonstrate the required ability and potential will be offered advanced training. Available courses include:
- Advanced acoustic analyst
- Sonar control supervisor
- Under water warfare director
- Submarine sonar operator
- SURTASS target processor
- Target data analyzer
- Operations watch officer
The minimum required education to apply for this position is the completion of the provincial requirements for Grade 10 or Secondaire IV in Quebec. Foreign education may be accepted.