Naval Tactical Operations Group

 

The Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) relies on various groups and units within its organization to ensure that its ships and personnel are protected, both at home in Canada and around the world.

One such group is the Naval Tactical Operations Group (NTOG), a full-time, dedicated unit within the RCN that specializes in advanced boarding operations at sea. This 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 all over the world, known as force protection.

In addition to working domestically with other government departments and Canadian Armed Forces units, NTOG team members also deploy globally to assist Canada’s international security partners build their capabilities, in support of the Government of Canada’s Strong, Secure, Engaged Defence Policy.

Relationship with a ship’s company

Traditionally, naval boarding parties are made up of regular members of an RCN ship’s crew who perform the task as a secondary duty. These boarding parties are used to investigate typical vessels of interest, such as merchant ships, in support of Government of Canada and NATO missions.

When an NTOG team is deployed, it augments a ship’s company for a specific mission or period of time. The NTOG team enhances a ship’s ability to conduct interdiction operations that might have a higher than usual risk and to provide a more robust force protection capability during high-threat transits or port visits.

It also provides the ship with additional security and planning capabilities during evacuations of civilian non-combatants, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions.

Operations

Since its inception in 2014, NTOG teams have supported RCN ships and personnel all over the world. Recent operations and exercises that NTOG teams have supported include:

  • Op ARTEMIS – As of April 2019, an NTOG team has been attached to HMCS Regina, which is part of a Canadian-led, multinational maritime task force that is patrolling the Arabian Sea region, disrupting illicit drug trafficking and keeping the seas safe.

 

  • Op REASSURANCE – Teams have deployed nine times to support this operation.

    • From January to March 2019, an NTOG team of 10 personnel provided HMCS Toronto with the enhanced capacity to conduct interdiction operations at sea. The team also trained with the Spanish Marine Infantry and trained Toronto’s boarding team. 

 

  • Op PROJECTION - West Africa – In 2018 and 2019, two NTOG teams participated in training events supporting this operation.

    • OBANGAME EXPRESS – As part of Op PROJECTION (West Africa), in 2019, NTOG Teams participated in joint training events in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.

 

  • Op EDIFICE - Tunisia – Throughout February 2019, an NTOG team was in Bizerte, Tunisia to work with that country’s 51st and 52nd Regiments Commandos Marin. This was the third year that NTOG had a team in Tunisia to support Op EDIFICE.

 

  • TRADEWINDS – Over the past several years, NTOG teams conducted joint training events with a number of southern nations including, but not limited to the United States, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic.

Structure

NTOG Headquarters is located at Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt (Albert Head), B.C., and reports directly to the Commander Canadian Fleet Pacific. The headquarters is augmented by the East Coast Detachment, located at Her Majesty’s Canadian Dockyard Halifax.

The unit consists of approximately 50 personnel, located on both coasts, and made up of sailors from both the Regular Force and Naval Reserve.