Your Navy Today - Volume 5 Issue 1

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Special Edition: 2021 in Review

Our Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) Team had much to be proud of in 2021 with ships deployed around the world in multiple operations and exercises, the arrival of our first ships in the future fleet, and our headway on certain personnel issues. This Special Edition of Your Navy Today provides a review of what has been accomplished in 2021 and offers a sneak peek of what to expect for 2022. Happy New Year!

Changing our culture

While our day-to-day business continues, we will continue to work hard to change the culture within the RCN to one that is more equitable and safe. The RCN is determined that as an organization, we must bring about progressive change – driven by the passion of committed individuals and in the spirit of safety for all, optimism, openness and trust.

And we all know this: culture change is complex work that requires dedicated, deliberate and sustained efforts. We will continue with the implementation of Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA+) into existing policy, governance, procurement and human resources. GBA+ is the analytical tool used in the Government of Canada to assess the potential impacts of policies, programs or initiatives on diverse groups by taking into account gender and other identify factors such as age, education, language, geography, culture and income; this is the tool that will help us unpack and remove systemic barriers that exist within our organization.

Although there is still much work to be done, we have already implemented new initiatives to move us in the right direction.

For example, the RCN’s Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) Advisory Council was created to support increased information flow between RCN senior leadership, Defence Advisory Groups, Naval Reserve Diversity and Inclusion Command Advisory Teams, Honorary Naval Captains, and Champions. Their insight has helped the RCN Diversity & Inclusion Team to better prioritize initiatives across the RCN.

The forthcoming RCN Diversity and Inclusion website will provide RCN members at all levels a centralized database of resources, which will provide relevant information, policy and directives regarding employment equity, diversity, inclusion and GBA+.

Modernizing people management

In order to crew our future fleet properly, Project Navy Generation was launched last year to work on resolving the RCN’s force-generation and personnel shortage issues. The team is reviewing all aspects of our personnel production system, including attraction, recruitment, individual training, professional development and career progression and will make recommendations to set the foundation of a system which is effective, efficient and supports the needs of both sailors and the RCN.

As we transition over the next decade to the Canadian Surface Combatant, while integrating new Joint Support Ships, and the rest of the Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships, we will have the structures in place to ensure sustained recruitment through increased attraction efforts, and we will have an effective force generation training production system in place.

Operations Projection, Artemis and Neon

Members of HMCS Calgary and its embarked Naval Tactical Operations Group team

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Members of HMCS Calgary and its embarked Naval Tactical Operations Group team stand with 1,286 kg of heroin seized during a counter-smuggling operation on April 23 – the largest single heroin bust by any ship in Combined Maritime Forces history.

Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Calgary deployed to Operations Projection (February 28 to August 30) and Artemis (April 13 to June 14).

During its two-month period of support to Combined Task Force (CTF) 150 while deployed on Op Artemis, HMCS Calgary’s crew conducted a record-breaking 17 successful counter-narcotics seizures, more than any other single ship in the history of the multinational operation. Calgary seized over 36,000 kg of illicit narcotics, including the operation’s largest single heroin seizure – 1,286 kg.

HMCS Calgary was also deployed on Op Projection in the Indo-Pacific region, where it worked with naval partners from several nations. In July, Calgary participated in Exercise Talisman Sabre 21, a joint exercise held every two years in Australia and its territorial waters.

Canadian contributions to CTF 150 did not end with Calgary. The RCN’s Commodore Dan Charlebois commanded the task force from January 27 to July 15.

HMCS Winnipeg

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HMCS Winnipeg with the Royal Navy Carrier Strike Group 21.

HMCS Winnipeg was deployed on Operations Projection and Neon from August 17 to December 16.

During its time in the Indo-Pacific, the ship conducted exercises with the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force in the East China Sea and with the multinational, UK-led Her Majesty’s Ship Queen Elizabeth Carrier Strike Group in the Philippine and South China Seas. Winnipeg also transited the Taiwan Strait with the United States Navy, and the South China Sea in company with Australian warships.

While on Op Neon, Winnipeg conducted 48 patrol days at sea and collected intelligence on 23 vessels of interest suspected of violating UN Security Council sanctions against North Korea.

Operation Reassurance

Standing NATO Maritime Group One and Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group One warships conduct fleet manoeuvres.

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Standing NATO Maritime Group One and Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group One warships conduct fleet manoeuvres in the Baltic Sea on April 1.

HMCS Halifax departed its namesake city on New Year’s Day to join Standing NATO Maritime Group One (SNMG1) on Op Reassurance. Halifax and SNMG1 conducted training with Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group One off the coasts of Latvia and Estonia, as well as with other partner navies throughout the deployment.

As SNMG1 flagship, Halifax took part in NATO Exercise Steadfast Defender off the coast of Portugal, during which three RCN flag officers assumed key leadership roles. Rear-Admiral Steve Waddell was the Maritime Component Commander, Commodore (Cmdre) Marcel Hallé was the exercise director, and Cmdre Bradley Peats was commander of SNMG1 aboard flagship HMCS Halifax. Cmdre Peats was the SNMG1 commander from January 2021 to January 2022. Halifax returned home on July 19.

HMCS Fredericton in port in Glasgow

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HMCS Fredericton in port in Glasgow, Scotland, before participating in Dynamic Mariner 21.

HMCS Fredericton deployed on Op Reassurance from July 24 to December 18. Upon taking over duties from HMCS Halifax, Fredericton also acted as flagship for SNMG1 and Cmdre Peats. While deployed, it conducted several exercises with allied and partner navies, including the multinational Exercise Dynamic Mariner 21-2 off the coast of Scotland.

The ship suffered an engine room fire in the early hours of November 18 while sailing off the coast of Norway. The crew took immediate action and extinguished it, ensuring no one was hurt. The ship conducted repairs in Norway before heading home to Canada.

HMCS Harry DeWolf circumnavigates North America

For HMCS Harry DeWolf, the first ship in Canada’s fleet of new Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships (AOPS) , this was a ground-breaking inaugural deployment. The ship departed Halifax on August 3  to circumnavigate North America, participating in Operations Nanook in the Arctic, and Caribbe in the Eastern Pacific and the Caribbean Sea, along the way.

While in the Arctic, it successfully demonstrated how this new class of ship will bolster the RCN’s presence in the North and its ability to operate globally. The ship and its crew charted its northern course via the fabled Northwest Passage. A first for the RCN since 1954, Harry DeWolf followed the same route taken by the infamous 1845-46 Franklin Expedition, which was lost with all hands in the very same area. Following its successful time on Op Caribbe, the ship transited the Panama Canal on its way home, arriving in Halifax on December 16.

For more on Harry DeWolf’s successful deployment, read on below, under Operations Caribbe and Nanook.

Operation Caribbe

HMCS Moncton deployed to Op Caribbe from January 22 to March 9, and while its crew did not directly participate in any drug disruptions, they contributed significant amounts of information on observed behaviour in their patrol area by investigating suspicious vessels to verify they were not smuggling drugs.

HMCS Saskatoon

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HMCS Saskatoon and its embarked the U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment prepare to intercept a target of interest while deployed on Operation Caribbe in the Pacific Ocean on March 13.

HMC Ships Brandon and Saskatoon were deployed on Op Caribbe from February 18 to May 20. Together with their embarked United States Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachments, the ships seized a combined 6,436 kg of cocaine and took 15 smugglers into custody. Saskatoon also seized 45 kg  of marijuana.

HMCS Shawinigan was deployed on Op Caribbe from June 2 to August 9. Working with the Law Enforcement Detachment of the United States Coast Guard Southeast, the crew intercepted nearly 2,800 kg of cocaine in several interdictions.

After leaving Canada’s North, HMCS Harry DeWolf continued its circumnavigation of North America, sailing down the West Coast of North America and into the Eastern Pacific. There, Harry DeWolf successfully made its first two drug busts on Operation Caribbe.

Operation Nanook

HMC Ships Goose Bay, left, and Harry DeWolf conduct boat work exercises during Op Nanook.

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HMC Ships Goose Bay, left, and Harry DeWolf conduct boat work exercises during Op Nanook on August 5.

HMC Ships Harry DeWolf (August 3 to September 12) and Goose Bay (August 3 to 27) took part in Op Nanook. Alongside Goose Bay and Harry DeWolf, ships from the Canadian Coast Guard and the United States Coast Guard participated in exercises that simulated responses to a major maritime incident. Nanook also marked the first time one of the new AOPS  sailed through Northern waters.

Exercises

HMC Ships Regina, Calgary, Saskatoon, Brandon and Whitehorse, and HMC Submarine Victoria participated in Task Group Exercise 21-01 on the West Coast to practise defending against air, surface and subsurface threats, as well as integrating naval, air and ground forces. The exercise involved approximately 800 personnel from the Canadian Armed Forces, United States Navy and United States Coast Guard.

Members of HMCS Toronto’s Naval Boarding Party conduct on board training off the East Coast during Exercise Cutlass Fury 21.

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Members of HMCS Toronto’s Naval Boarding Party conduct on board training off the East Coast during Exercise Cutlass Fury 21.

Her Majesty’s Canadian Ships Toronto, Charlottetown, Montréal, Halifax, Kingston, Summerside and Moncton, HMC Submarine Windsor, the Naval Replenishment Unit MV Asterix, and members of the Naval Tactical Operations Group participated in Exercise Cutlass Fury 21 on the East Coast from September 7 to 17. The exercise used realistic tactical scenarios to assess the vessels’ defensive capabilities against surface and sub-surface threats. The Royal Canadian Air Force, the United States Navy and the French Navy also took part.

RCN clearance divers conduct force integration training with other navies during Exercise Sea Breeze 21 in Odessa, Ukraine, on July 1.

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RCN clearance divers conduct force integration training with other navies during Exercise Sea Breeze 21 in Odessa, Ukraine, on July 1.

Our divers from Fleet Diving Units Atlantic and Pacific participated in 11 exercises – including the Canadian-led multinational Exercise Ardent Defender and the multinational Exercise Northern Challenge led by the Icelandic Coast Guard – honing their clearance diving and bomb disposal skills.

Members of the Naval Tactical Operations Group demonstrate ship drills to multinational partners during Exercise Sea Breeze 21 in Ukraine on July 5.

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Members of the Naval Tactical Operations Group demonstrate ship drills to multinational partners during Exercise Sea Breeze 21 in Ukraine on July 5.

Our divers from Fleet Diving Units Atlantic and Pacific participated in 11 exercises – including the Canadian-led multinational Exercise Ardent Defender and the multinational Exercise Northern Challenge led by the Icelandic Coast Guard – honing their clearance diving and bomb disposal skills.

Fleet Maintenance Facilities

FMF Cape Scott Plate Shop

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Plater Mike Chambers teaches Apprentice Luke Jefferies how to use a highly digitized break press in the FMF Cape Scott Plate Shop. This brake press bends up to quarter-inch steel and is used in a variety of applications when servicing the RCN fleet.

Over the last year, more than a million combined hours of maintenance were delivered to the fleet by our civilian and military team members at the two Fleet Maintenance Facilities (FMF), located in Halifax and Esquimalt, B.C . This effort included 30 work periods of various lengths and complexity, designed to maintain, and in some cases upgrade, the RCN’s fleet of ships and submarines.

These work periods, which took place both here in Canada and abroad while ships were deployed, ultimately supported sending four Halifax-class ships, HMCS Harry DeWolf, and five Kingston-class ships on operations. They also enabled the operations of HMC Submarines Windsor and Victoria in support of continental defence and force generation, for a total of 162 sea days.

Despite multiple pandemic-related challenges, the FMFs have adapted, sustaining fleet maintenance while abiding by public health measures. Services delivered to the RCN included planned and corrective maintenance, engineering services, and the repair and manufacturing of parts.

Naval Reserve

Members from NCSM d’Iberville in Rimouski, Que., conducted cold-weather boat exercises

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Members from NCSM d’Iberville in Rimouski, Que., conducted cold-weather boat exercises last year in order to maintain training and practice emergency responses in extreme conditions.

Despite the many pandemic-related challenges we faced in 2021, the Naval Reserve rose to the occasion to have another successful and productive year.

Several changes in senior leadership occurred in 2021: the Commander of the Naval Reserve transitioned from Cmdre Michael Hopper to Cmdre Patrick Montgomery, several new regional captains were appointed, and multiple commanding officers at Naval Reserve Divisions (NRDs) across Canada turned over.

Units maintained routine training by adopting a hybrid model of at-home and at-work training, conducting regular small boat and dive exercises, and rifle and other routine training. Multiple NRDs and reservists helped Canadians here at home through Operation Lentus, including during the B.C. floods with the Naval Security Team.

Several NRDs supported unique events, including the Grey Cup and Calgary Stampede. Sailor 2nd Class Yvette Yong, from Toronto’s HMCS York, competed in the Tokyo Olympics in taekwondo.

Naval reservists contributed to their communities by supporting charities such as the United Way-Centraide, Movember and Ronald McDonald House, along with environmental clean ups, and food and blood drives.

Naval reservists also strived to bridge the naval and Indigenous communities, supporting various events, learning about Indigenous traditions and cultures, and even paddling along in the “Pulling Together” Canoe Journey on the West Coast.

Hundreds of members vigorously supported the National Veterans’ Week Speakers Program by taking part in speaking engagements (virtual and live), special ceremonies and events across Canada, both educating Canadians about the Canadian Armed Forces and encouraging Canadians of all ages to remember their veterans.

Finally, HMCS Star in Hamilton, Ont., was the proud recipient of the Commodore’s Cup as the “star” NRD of the year for the unit and crew’s accomplishments.

RCN Innovation

The RCN continued to innovate throughout 2021, with numerous examples. During its recent circumnavigation of North America, HMCS Harry DeWolf worked with Defence Research and Development Canada to test the Towed Reelable Active-Passive Sonar system, enhancing the RCN’s ability to monitor Canada’s vast arctic waters. The RCN’s Innovation Team worked on several ongoing projects, including green energy propulsion, artificial intelligence and machine-learning and electro-optic visual recognition. The ability to test emerging new capabilities was expanded this year as well. An “X-fleet” of ships was contracted this year, which the RCN will use to test emerging technologies. These dedicated testing platforms will free up the fleet to focus on operations, allow for more technology to be tested, and reduce the risks associated with experimental tech.

Innovation is a top priority of the RCN and further developments like these should be expected in 2022. To help facilitate this push, the Innovation Team is currently BETA-testing a new innovation portal that will help improve the submission and tracking of innovative ideas and technology, as well as increase collaboration.

Future Fleet

Crew members of the future HMCS Margaret Brooke line the jetty

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Crew members of the future HMCS Margaret Brooke line the jetty in Halifax on July 15, as part of the delivery ceremony for the ship.

Moving to the status of our Future Fleet, in June we commissioned the first AOPS, HMCS Harry DeWolf. And in July we accepted delivery of the second AOPS, HMCS Margaret Brooke.

Work has progressed on the design of Canada’s next-generation warship, the Canadian Surface Combatant. These 15 new ships will replace the retired Iroquois-class destroyers and the Halifax-class frigates with a single, more capable ship that is able to deliver decisive combat power at sea, and help us meet the naval challenges of the future.

Construction also continued on our first Joint Support Ship (JSS), the future HMCS Protecteur. This new class of ship will provide the RCN with a modern, task-tailored naval support capability that can sustain the ships and aircraft of a naval task group at sea, support operations ashore, and provide a significant sea-lift capability, enabling global reach for the Canadian Armed Forces. As purpose-built warships, the JSS will provide the best available protection for our sailors with a military design that incorporates damage control aspects, as well as counter-measures against torpedoes, mines and missiles.

HMCS Corner Brook

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On June 10, HMCS Corner Brook began the undocking process in Esquimalt after completing the dry-dock stage of its Extended Docking Work Period. The submarine is expected back in service shortly.

After several work periods of varying complexity, the submarine fleet began returning to the water in late 2020, starting with HMC Submarine Victoria on the West Coast. HMCS Windsor followed shortly thereafter on the East Coast in early 2021. Since their return to the water, Victoria and Windsor have participated in task group exercises and contributed to continental defence off the Pacific and Atlantic coasts respectively. HMCS Corner Brook will soon return to operations, while HMCS Chicoutimi is expected to return in late 2022-early 2023.

Looking to the future, the Canadian Patrol Submarine Project has been established to research procurement options for our next generation submarine, to help inform timely governmental decision making, and to avoid any gap in capabilities. We have started this thinking now, knowing that the Victoria-class submarines are scheduled to begin decommissioning in the late 2030s and that defence procurement for such a complex project can take 15 years or more from project establishment to first delivery.

And finally, a new fleet of Naval Large Tugs is under construction now to support the RCN’s current and future fleets. The first two tugs – named Haro, after British Columbia’s Haro Strait, and Barkerville, after the Second World War-era Ville-class tug of the same name – are expected to be delivered to the RCN by the fall of 2022.

Looking forward into 2022

Looking forward to some of our upcoming deployments, HMCS Montreal is departing soon for Op Reassurance to conduct training, exercises, demonstrations and assigned NATO tasks as we continue to demonstrate Canada’s commitment to security and stability in Central and Eastern Europe.

HMC Ships Saskatoon and Yellowknife are scheduled to depart for Op Caribbe in late February to monitor and intercept illegal smuggling. They are expected to return to Canada at the end of March.

HMCS Goose Bay and HMCS Moncton are expected to depart soon for Op Projection – West Africa to support capacity building and to foster relationships with partner navies in that region. They plan to participate in Exercise Obangame Express in March to support stability and security in the region. Both ships are scheduled to return home at the end of March.

And while the participating ships and dates are unknown at this time, we look forward to participating in Exercise Rim of the Pacific 2022 to give our sailors the opportunity to conduct high readiness training in support of planned operations.

With regard to our future fleet, we anticipate delivery of our third AOPS, while construction on the fourth will continue.

These are but a snapshot of what is coming. 2022 promises to be a fulfilling and exciting year for all members of the RCN Team.

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