Canadian Fleet Atlantic naval vessels and SPS Patiño depart for maritime exercises

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Navy News / February 18, 2016

Three Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) vessels, along with Spanish replenishment ship SPS Patiño, have departed Halifax to conduct a Task Group Exercise (TGEX) along the eastern seaboard.

Her Majesty’s Canadian Ships (HMCS) Athabaskan and Halifax, along with SPS Patiño, set sail on February 17, 2016 and joined HMCS Charlottetown, which departed earlier the same week, to take part in the exercise. The ships will operate at sea from February through March, conducting replenishment and combat serials that will test all levels of ship and fleet readiness.   

"SPS Patiño’s involvement with the Royal Canadian Navy highlights a special relationship developed and perfected through decades of operating together as enduring NATO Allies in coalitions and operations around the world,” said Rear Admiral John Newton, Commander of Maritime Forces Atlantic. “Just as HMCS Protecteur refuelled Spanish warships during operations to liberate Kuwait 25 years ago this month, SPS Patiño will now play an important role in support of the Royal Canadian Navy by helping my sailors retain the expertise necessary to work with replenishment ships in the demanding conditions of the wintertime North Atlantic."

Fleet exercises involving two or more RCN vessels operating together are referred to as Task Group Exercises (TGEX). TGEXs hone crew skillsets and test fleet readiness to deploy and execute a wide variety of maritime security assignments. Deployed maritime forces will continue to be organized around the concept of the naval task group for the foreseeable future. The naval task group is a self-sufficient “system of systems” that navies use to conduct a full range of missions, from disaster relief and humanitarian assistance to combat operations, both at sea and in support of land forces ashore.

This exercise marks SPS Patiño’s first participation in Atlantic fleet exercises since its arrival in Halifax on February 12. The Task Group training with SPS Patiño will provide operational experience that will enhance the individual skill sets and core seamanship abilities within the Canadian Fleet that are essential to deployed operations. This exercise will also assist RCN sailors in retaining the expertise necessary to operate the Queenston-class supply ships once they are delivered.

The exercise will see 870 RCN and Spanish personnel working side by side. Rotations of approximately 30 RCN personnel will embark SPS Patiño and understudy procedures, familiarize themselves with equipment and participate in replenishment at sea activities.

“Exercises such as this serve to enhance the combat readiness of our units, improve unit interoperability and confirm operational mission preparedness,” said Commodore Craig Baines, Commander Canadian Fleet Atlantic. “The employment of these various naval vessels on exercise provides a rare opportunity for our Fleet to conduct a full range of seamanship duties and maritime warfare training.”

Throughout the exercise, HMC Ships Athabaskan, Halifax and Charlottetown will maintain their core responsibilities of training fleet sailors and enhancing crew readiness.