HMCS Vancouver honours RNZN’s 75th anniversary, provides humanitarian assistance after earthquake

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Navy News / December 9, 2016

By Katelyn Moores

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN). The country organized a number of events throughout the year to mark this milestone and celebrate the service, commitment and sacrifice of the men and women who have served in their naval force.

The highlight of these events was the International Naval Review in Auckland Harbour from November 17-22, 2016. A total of 22 countries, including Canada, planned to be in attendance at the Review to celebrate alongside their Kiwi allies.

Having many countries come together to celebrate the RNZN’s anniversary demonstrates the importance and strength of international naval cooperation. This coming together of naval forces reminds us that throughout history, allied and partner navies have worked together to bring peace and maintain safety and security on the world’s oceans.

Just three days before the start of the festivities, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck New Zealand’s South Island, claiming the lives of two people and causing extensive damage to infrastructure in the area. Without hesitation, five nations already in the region to attend the Naval Review offered their support to the New Zealand government. Australia, Canada, Japan, the United States and Singapore all contributed to the humanitarian relief effort for the people of New Zealand hit hardest by the powerful earthquake.

Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Vancouver travelled to the remote area of Kaikoura, delivering supplies and helping the community begin to repair and rebuild. 

If honouring the RNZN’s anniversary alongside their allies and partners can be seen as a way of showcasing the importance of fostering the alliances that help maintain peace and security on the world’s oceans, then the humanitarian response in the wake of New Zealand’s earthquake demonstrates the power of those partnerships in action.

In our vast maritime environment, success in times of peace and conflict is closely linked to teamwork and collaboration between partner navies. The importance of these relationships is forever remembered in historic campaigns such as the Battle of the Atlantic, but they remain important today. 

Modern security challenges, including criminal networks, natural disasters and terrorism, reach beyond borders. These challenges require a multilateral response that utilizes the resources of multiple countries coordinating their efforts towards a common objective: maritime security.

By fostering cooperation with partner nations, the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) is helping to sustain and strengthen important relationships and increase interoperability. Whether working alongside our Spanish counterparts during replenishments-at-sea to prepare to receive our new Joint Support Ships, or conducting explosive ordinance disposal alongside Australian and New Zealand military forces during Operation RENDER SAFE in the Solomon Islands, the RCN is constantly working with our partners to maintain operational excellence and increase safety and security on the world’s oceans. 

Through the REGULUS program, exchanges with allied forces have allowed New Zealand sailors to train on board our newly modernized frigates and Canadian sailors to break through Arctic ice on board French warships. Canadian ships have served with Standing NATO Maritime Groups on Operation REASSURANCE in the Mediterranean and Black Seas, and have contributed to a multinational campaign against transnational criminal organizations in the Eastern Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea on Operation CARIBBE.

In addition, the RCN has participated in a number of multinational exercises this year, including RIMPAC, KAKADU, DYNAMIC MONGOOSE and SEA SHIELD, and our clearance divers have provided ship’s team diver training to sailors in Jamaica. 

Partnerships provide all countries with greater security that they could attain individually.  Just as these partnerships were key to achieving maritime security in the past, they continue to show their importance in maintaining this security today.