Anti-submarine warfare and strengthening ties during CUTLASS FURY 2016

Navy News / October 6, 2016

By Lieutenant (Navy) Kelly Boyden

Commander Task Group 301.1 for Exercise CUTLASS FURY 2016 (CF 16), Captain (Navy) Craig Skjerpen, and Task Group Engineering Officer, Commander Tom Sheehan, were welcomed aboard French Ship (FS) Languedoc for a tour on September 16, 2016.

FS Languedoc is a recently constructed Aquitaine-class, multi-role frigate, so new it has yet to be formally commissioned into the French Navy.

FS Languedoc, along with Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Fredericton and HMCS Athabaskan, have been designated as Task Group 301.1’s anti-submarine warfare (ASW) platforms. As such, the three allied ships have been busy deploying their embarked helicopters and utilizing their sonar capabilities to detect, locate and track enemy submarines during this dynamic, at-sea training.

The three ships are just one part of CF 16, the largest ASW exercise held in Canadian waters in more than 20 years. As part of ASW scenarios, CF 16 includes five maritime patrol aircraft, six helicopters, three submarines and eight ships.

“The chess match that is anti-submarine warfare develops slowly. It involves a lot of information gathering and planning, long before a contact is detected,” said HMCS Fredericton’s Underwater Warfare Director, Petty Officer 1st Class Shawn Swinimer. “However, during CUTLASS FURY we’ve been working through a different anti-submarine warfare scenario roughly every 12 hours and the complexity of the scenarios has been increasing from the start.”

In addition to ASW, there are also air and surface scenarios being coordinated through the Command Staff embarked in HMCS Fredericton. The command platform in the Operations Room is unique to HMCS Fredericton and three other modernized Halifax-class frigates. They have been equipped with command capabilities and are manned 24/7 for the duration of CF 16.

“There is no limit to the adversity in scenarios out here,” added PO1 Swinimer. “CUTLASS FURY 16 is as realistic a wartime simulation as you can get…short of a real war.”

To fight effectively, participants in CF 16 must work together and build strong working  relationships amongst themselves, as well as throughout Task Groups. In light of this, Capt(N) Skjerpen and Cdr Sheehan were welcomed on board FS Languedoc for a brief respite from the simulated war-at-sea. Welcomed by Capt(N) Guillaume Arnoux, the ship’s Commanding Officer, and its Chief Engineer, Cdr Jérome Clemence, the goal of the visit, much like one of the aims of CUTLASS FURY itself, was to build relationships between allied navies.

“I’d like to thank Capt(N) Arnoux and his ship’s company for graciously hosting us in the midst of the challenging and complex learning environment that is CUTLASS FURY,” said Capt(N) Skjerpen. “It was great to see the Royal Canadian Navy’s interoperability with the French Navy from the other side, and to tour FS Languedoc, an impressive new edition to the French fleet.”  

This year’s CUTLASS FURY brought together naval and air force elements from five participating nations: Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Spain and France. The at-sea phase of CF 16 concluded on September 23, with the ships arriving in St. John’s for a port visit.