CAF deploys 24 military personnel to support Exercise Sea Breeze 21

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Navy News / June 29, 2021

By Major Christopher Daniel

RCN Public Affairs

The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) has deployed 24 military personnel to Odesa, Ukraine to participate in Exercise Sea Breeze 21 from June 28 to July 10, 2021.

This annual exercise is co-hosted by the United States Navy and the Ukrainian Navy, with the support of NATO’s Partnership for Peace program. The CAF delegation supporting this exercise is comprised of Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) clearance divers from Fleet Diving Units (FDU) Pacific and Atlantic, members from the Naval Tactical Operations Group (NTOG) and staff officer mentors.

Sea Breeze focuses on the interoperability of maritime, ground and air forces of the participating nations, and improves our combined capabilities to execute maritime security operations,” said Captain(Navy) (Capt(N)) Robert Taylor, the CAF Contingent Commander. “Our participation in this exercise strengthens our ties with partner navies and further improves our ability to successfully work together on multinational operations and missions.”

The RCN’s participation in Exercise Sea Breeze 21 is part of Operation Unifier, the CAF military training and capacity-building mission in Ukraine.

“Operation Unifier is Canada’s contribution to assist the Security Forces of Ukraine through capability and capacity building in coordination with the other countries providing similar types of assistance,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Melanie Lake, Commander Joint Task Force-Ukraine.

“CAF’s contribution to this year’s iteration of Sea Breeze demonstrates Canada’s commitment to enhancing Canadian, Ukrainian and NATO interoperability by training and exercising together,” she said. “We are very happy to see this year’s exercise expand to include multi-domain operations integrating land, maritime, air and special operations forces elements as a joint force. The capacity and strong relationships built during Ex Sea Breeze 21 will directly contribute to Black Sea regional security, safety and stability. We believe that Ukraine’s security is our security and we remain a steadfast friend and ally to the Security Forces of Ukraine.”

Exercise Sea Breeze 21 is about training together and making new friends based on a shared commitment to peace and stability in Europe. This exercise will see more than 30 participating countries, 32 ships, 40 aircraft, approximately 5,000 troops and 18 special operations and dive teams. These partner militaries are training together in maritime operations and supporting information sharing and awareness of the maritime domain. This exercise will enable and enhance collaborative naval operations amongst maritime security partners in the Black Sea.

As a part of the exercise, clearance divers from FDUs Pacific and Atlantic, members from NTOG and staff officer mentors are sharing their best practices with the Ukrainian Navy. The expertise that they bring to the exercise is noteworthy. In fact, RCN clearance divers are experts in salvage, inspections, training, search and survey, hyperbaric medicine, submarine rescue, fleet maintenance, and dockyard support.

What’s more, a team from NTOG is sharing their techniques in advanced boarding operations at sea. NTOG is a dedicated unit within the RCN whose expertise includes intercepting suspect vessels in order to prevent the movement of illicit cargo and materiel at sea, called Maritime Interdiction Operations, and protecting Navy ships, infrastructure and personnel.

“Our participation in Sea Breeze is significant for the RCN because engagements and exercises with partner navies help build mutual understanding, gain trust, improve interoperability, and enhance the operational readiness of the RCN around the world,” said Capt(N) Taylor. “By focusing on interoperability with multinational partners, the RCN will be better prepared to respond to regional security situations, if required.”

It is important to note that the CAF has taken measures to mitigate the risk of Covid-19 for participating members. In fact, all CAF personnel deployed in support of Exercise Sea Breeze 21 have been inoculated with the Health Canada-approved Moderna Covid-19 vaccine. They have also undergone Covid testing prior to departure as a preventative measure, and are required to comply with local health protocols, wear a mask, observe physical distancing and regularly sanitize hands. These measures aim to ensure our members remain safe, healthy and able to complete their mission.

Exercise Sea Breeze is an annual multinational military training exercise conducted on the territory of Ukraine since 1997, in accordance with a memorandum of understanding and cooperation between the U.S. Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Defence of Ukraine of 1993. Co-hosted by the United States and Ukraine, other participating countries in this year’s exercise include Algeria, Austria, Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Greece, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Morocco, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Senegal, Spain, South Korea, Sweden, Turkey and the United Kingdom.