The Royal Canadian Air Force will conduct a “training” session at a Hawaiian diving school this January in a venture that drew no comment from the Minister of Defence.
The RCAF reported it will fly up to thirty staff to Maui in January and February for six-night stays at Lahaina, home of the welcoming Ka’anapali Beach – “one of Maui’s best” – and traditional luaus, according to the Lonely Planet travel guide.
The air force reported that personnel from British Columbia would be “training” at Lahaina Divers, a charter scuba company that promises clients stunning views of coral, hammerhead sharks and a sunken schooner.
Defence Minister Rob Nicholson declined Blacklock’s interview request.
The RCAF said that, while the Pacific junket “has yet to be approved”, it was intended to provide training for search and rescue technicians of 442 Squadron of Comox, B.C.
“Technicians must fulfill specific scuba diving requirements on a quarterly basis to maintain job-essential skill currency,” said Maj. Steve Neta, senior public affairs officer.
The Maui location was picked “due to the quality of the commercial dive support available”, Neta continued: “Technicians are required on a moment’s notice to subject themselves to some of Canada’s harshest climate conditions in austere environments year round. The dive operator at Lahaina offers equipment and standards that meet the Canadian Armed Forces requirements.”
Divers will be flown to Hawaii for week-long sessions from January 18 to February 21. The air force stressed its hotel must be cool and quiet, and within a 20-minute drive of the diving school: “Minimum 3.5-star hotel based on TripAdvisor or other travel websites”, the air force reported. “Accommodation must be located in a safe and quiet environment, higher floors preferred, in an area that is not under construction or being renovated.”
Hotel fares at Lahaina for the peak mid-winter period range from $140 to $310 nightly according to the discount travel website Hotwire.com.
The Lonely Planet enthused that local attractions include the Old Lahaina Luau, “a must-do for visitors to Hawaii”: “You’ll be individually greeted with a fresh flower lei, tropical drink and a personalized souvenir program before your Luau hosts escort you to your seats and acquaint you with the Old Lahaina Luau grounds. At the ocean’s edge, you may gather as the Kalua pig is unearthed from the ‘Imu’, a traditional Hawaiian underground oven. After, you’ll be escorted to the Hale A’i (Eating House) for your buffet dinner. At sunset, the evening’s main entertainment begins.”