OUR VIEW: Navy booze policy change is a smart idea

Navy ships are 24/7 workplaces after all, so they should be treated as such

The presence of cheap or free alcohol on Royal Canadian Navy ships is a tradition that goes back generations.

It can likely be traced back to when the captains of sailing ships heading out for long voyages to new lands felt it prudent to carry rum on board to give crew members something to look forward to during long stretches at sea, and to keep them from going stir crazy.

While ships and personnel in today’s navy still spend extended times at sea away from home and family, the need for a loose liquor policy on board is a vestige from the past that has long outlived its pragmatic need.

There will no doubt be crew members who will grumble about the move announced by the RCN last week to ban self-serve drinking while its ships are at sea or in port.

The change was one of a variety of recommendations stemming from an Internal Review of Personal Conduct, launched after shorebound charges relating to drunken misconduct were lodged against three members of HMCS Whitehorse on exercise in San Diego this past summer.

That said, the navy realizes that the vast majority of personnel behave respectfully when imbibing on board or in port. As such, one recommendation is to offer alcohol on ships for special occasions, but for a higher price than in past and never in a self-serve scenario.

The military is designed to be structured and discipline-oriented – that’s why many people join in the first place. Letting that structure  loosen over booze is simply not acceptable.

-Black Press