Sub­mariner Re­u­nites With HMCS Ojibwa

RCN News - - Contents - by Craig Gil­bert, St. Thomas-El­gin Weekly News

Re­united with the love of his life af­ter 30 years, Mike “Stormy” Gales re­calls the near-in­ter­na­tional in­ci­dent that earned him his nick­name.

It was one of the times in his life the for­mer sailor and pos­si­bly the only Lon­doner to ever qual­ify as a sub­mariner in the Royal Cana­dian Navy knocked out two men in one fight.

Sit­ting in HMCS Ojibwa three decades af­ter he com­pleted a five-year con­tract spent al­most en­tirely aboard the whis­per-quiet elec­tric re­con sub­ma­rine, he said it took him less than 10 sec­onds to put the Scots­men on the floor in a shore-leave pub fight, closer to five, even.

The thrill of vic­tory was quickly re­placed by the fear of God when his cap­tain had to bail him out of jail. Called to the CO’s quar­ters hours later, Gales was sure his time on the high seas was be­hind him. The Scots ap­par­ently were call­ing it an in­ter­na­tional in­ci­dent.

But af­ter a healthy chew­ing out in the broom closet the cap­tain called home, all he got was a new han­dle that played on his fam­ily name and his grow­ing rep­u­ta­tion as a scrap­per (he claims to have flat­tened three men by him­self at least half a dozen times, and four of them twice).

“I asked him if he wanted the door shut when he was done,” Gales said. “He screamed, ‘Yes I want the door shut! And one more thing: thank you for pro­tect­ing my crew! ’” Such are the bonds that form hun­dreds of feet be­low the sur­face. “It’s a huge broth­er­hood,” Gales said. “I can walk into a room and tell who’s a sub­mariner. It’s just a feel­ing you get.”

Now a highly sought af­ter power plant con­trol sys­tems an­a­lyst in the United States, Stormy Gales has found calmer wa­ters, but the early 1980’s were dan­ger­ous times for Cana­dian sea­men.

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