By Darlene Blakeley
In an effort to enhance the safety and security of its ships and personnel while on deployment, the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) is developing a new capability called the Naval Security Team (NST), designed to support specific missions.
The NST will be composed primarily of naval reservists and will include a full-time command team to ensure personnel, training and equipment are available for deployment.
“The NST starts with a command and support cell, and then has other teams attached like Lego blocks as the mission dictates,” explains Commander Jeffrey White, Officer-in-Charge of the NST concept. “These attached layers will include a security or 'force protection' section, a tactical boat section, a mobile repair team and intelligence support.”
The team’s task will include port force protection and host nation liaison, along with support and intelligence requirements in foreign ports.
After selection, the team of approximately 30 to 50 personnel will be trained to meet specific mission requirements. For most force protection missions, this will include use of force, rules of engagement training, more advanced weapons training, small boat tactics, communications, deployed logistics and liaison skills.
Cdr White says that the force protection burden placed on a ship’s company when deployed can be challenging to maintain over time and reduces the availability of personnel to support other tasks, such as maintenance.
“NST seeks to support and help address this deficiency by providing an extra layer of force protection,” he says. “This capability requires short-term commitments that fit well into the lifestyle of part-time reservists, allowing our Naval Reserve to fulfill another role in the defence of Canada.”
During the recent Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise, a small group of naval reservists was embedded with a U.S. Navy (USN) team similar to the NST called Coastal Riverine Squadron 1, to learn about its operations. These squadrons, part of the USN Expeditionary Combat Command, provide layered defence for ships at home and in foreign waters.
“This was a unique experience,” says Cdr White. “RCN sailors were afforded the opportunity to better understand how USN reservists assist their Regular Force colleagues through annual training events and pre-deployment readiness checks. RIMPAC 2016 was an outstanding chance for our sailors to dig in and identify specific best practices and lessons learned from our USN counterparts to assist in the development of the NST.”
The inaugural NST will be deployed in the Spring/Summer of 2017 to support ships as part of Westploy, an operation aimed at building strong ties between the RCN and the navies of Asia-Pacific countries, while also promoting peace and security in the Pacific region.