Friday, August 12, 2016

Two RCN Vessels Leave on Arctic Deployment

Frontline Defence News 

The RCN is deploying two ships to Arctic waters this summer. HMCS Shawinigan and Monctondeparted from their home port of Halifax, Nova Scotia, today to conduct sovereignty and surveillance patrols as part of Operations Qimmiq and Nanook 2016.

While at sea, the ships will also be partnering with Canadian Hydrographic Services, Parks Canada, Canadian Coast Guard, and the Arctic Research Foundation to conduct hydrographic surveys.

“HMCS Moncton’s company is looking forward to meeting new people, working with other government departments to assist with making Canada’s North safer for navigation, and demonstrating our interoperability with other units of the Canadian Armed Forces,” said Lieutenant-Commander Nicole Robichaud, Commanding Officer HMCS Moncton

HMC Ships Shawinigan and Moncton will deploy for seven weeks to Canada’s Arctic in support of Operations Nanook and Qimmiq.

Operation Nanook is Canada’s largest sovereignty and presence operation in the North and takes place annually.

Operation Qimmiq is the Joint Task Force (North) surveillance and presence operation conducted continuously throughout the year in Canada’s North.

HMCS Moncton will be in Rankin Inlet on August 29 and HMCS Shawinigan will be in the Hamlet of Arctic Bay on September 8. HMCS Shawinigan will be donating a quantity of backpacks and school supplies to the community.
HMCS Moncton, a Kingston-class maritime coastal defence vessel sits anchored alongside the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Pierre Radisson for fuelling in Nunavut during Operation Qimmiq on September 14, 2015. (Photo: Corporal Felicia Ogunniya, 12 Wing Imaging Services, Shearwater, N.S)

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Last RCN Destroyer to be Retired in 2017

By: David Pugliese, National Post 

Canada’s last destroyer will be taken out of service in the spring, leaving the country’s navy reliant on allies for longer-range air defence for at least the next seven years.

HMCS Athabaskan, and similar destroyers, provided command and control capabilities over the years for the Royal Canadian Navy as well as what was called area air defence.

But Athabaskan, Canada’s last destroyer, will be taken out of service within the next year, most likely in the spring, Vice-Admiral Ron Lloyd, the new commander of the Royal Canadian Navy, told Postmedia Wednesday.

Canada’s warships still have the capability to protect themselves from direct, incoming air threats but will have to rely mainly on U.S. ships to deal with missiles and aircraft at longer ranges.

“We won’t be able to fill that long-range air defence gap,” Lloyd said. “You would be looking at your U.S. longrange air defence platforms for that coalition support as we go forward.”

The RCN won’t have that air defence capability back until about 2024 when the first of the new Canadian Surface Combatants is expected to be in the water.

Lloyd said some of the command and control functions that the destroyers had provided have been moved over to four existing Halifaxclass frigates. “We’re quite happy with the interim command and control capability we’ve put into the four modernized frigates,” he said.

The Navy will continue to ensure its training prepares sailors for area air defence capabilities so they are ready when those systems return in the new surface combatants.

Over the years, naval officers have continued to warn the Canadian government that a capability gap would emerge.

The first Canadian Surface Combatant was originally expected to be delivered in 2016 but problems with the Conservative government’s shipbuilding strategy derailed that plan.

In late 2007, Vice-Admiral Drew Robertson, then head of the navy, warned the Conservative government it needed to approve immediately a plan to replace the destroyers or face a gap in providing air defence and command and control for maritime task forces.

“Without both the force air defence and command capabilities these ships provide, Canada will not be able to safely operate a Task Group in contested waters — the key capability that provides to Canada the capacity for sovereign and independent action at sea, either at home or abroad, and from which derives the ability to lead international coalition or alliance operations,” Robertson wrote in the navy’s strategic assessment, obtained by Postmedia.

Lloyd noted that the Navy has more frigates available than it did several years ago, when many were in the process of being upgraded.

The multibillion-dollar modernization included a new combat management system and radars, a new electronic warfare system and upgraded communications and missiles.

“Now that we’re coming out of that extraordinarily successful modernization program, we have our capacity back so we have more ships available to go to sea,” Lloyd said.

He said at any one time the Navy has between nine to 10 frigates available.

Lloyd noted that the Navy also expects a return to refuelling capability when an interim supply ship becomes available in the fall of next year. A commercial vessel is being converted at Davie shipyards in Quebec and will be leased to the federal government for that role.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

CAF Land Task Force Returns to Romania to Train with Allies

By: Captain Mark Ruban, Public Affairs Officer, Operation REASSURANCE Land Task Force

Approximately 40 soldiers of the Operation REASSURANCE Land Task Force (LTF) have concluded yet another successful training exercise with NATO allies in Cincu, Romania. LTF personnel returned to Cincu for Exercise SABER GUARDIAN, which took place from July 27 to August 7, 2016, after having first deployed there in April for Exercise SCORPION FURY.

Soldiers walk in a field alongside two tanks.
Canadian soldiers of the Operation REASSURANCE Land Task Force (LTF) (in green) demonstrate their mechanized advance-to-contact procedures to American soldiers of 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team during Exercise SABER GUARDIAN, a multinational exercise comprising 10 countries, in Cincu, Romania on August 3, 2016. Canadian soldiers are deployed to Central and Eastern Europe as part of the LTF to support NATO assurance and deterrence measures, and improve interoperability with allies. (Photo: Corporal Guillaume Gagnon, Liaison Officer Driver, Operation REASSURANCE Land Task Force)
The purpose of Exercise SABER GUARDIAN, which featured 2,000 troops from 10 countries, was to improve interoperability within a multinational brigade context. The Canadians, divided into eight-person sections, were split among the platoons of a company of the U.S. Army’s 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team – which itself was attached to Romania’s 191st Infantry Battalion. As such, Canadian, Romanian and American soldiers collaborated during offensive and defensive scenarios, which included a force-on-force exercise and simulated medical evacuations.

“Once again, it was a pleasure to be training alongside our Romanian and American allies here in Cincu,” said Captain Tom Jancarik, a platoon commander with the 1st Battalion, Royal 22e RĂ©giment (1 R22eR) deployed with the LTF. “It’s always a pleasure to find that, despite our differences in tactics and equipment, we are more alike than different. We are equally united in our desire to increase our interoperability and help defend Central and Eastern Europe.”

Like many joint exercises, Exercise SABER GUARDIAN was an opportunity to practice new or unfamiliar skills with allies. Thanks to the Americans’ Blackhawk helicopters, the Canadians – who are mainly mechanized infanteers from 1 R22eR – were able to practice airmobile-assault drills with their U.S. counterparts. LTF soldiers had already learned the essentials while training at their base in Poland and they welcomed the opportunity to conduct helicopter-borne training again in Romania.

Having recently acquired Bradley armoured vehicles as part of a process to develop new capabilities, soldiers of the U.S. Army’s 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team are still refining their skills as mechanized infanteers. The Canadians were happy to share their knowledge and experiences with respect to the strategies and tactics of fighting, defending and patrolling with the support of armoured vehicles.

“It was great working with both the Romanians and Americans, who were very welcoming and who ensured that we integrated smoothly into the team,” said Corporal Rylan Moser, a signaller within the LTF. “They had a wealth of knowledge and experience to share with us, and they were also very open to take what knowledge we had to offer. Overall, this was an excellent training experience that helped us develop within our respective trades.”

Exercise SABER GUARDIAN was an important training opportunity that demonstrated the strength of allied solidarity in the region. Aside from the tactical field-training component, several countries collaborated in computer-based simulations to test the performance of various capabilities under different scenarios. The President of Romania, Klaus Iohannis, visited soldiers during the exercise, as did a representative of the Canadian embassy in Bucharest, Romania.

Op REASSURANCE is the Canadian Armed Forces’ contribution to NATO assurance and deterrence measures in Central and Eastern Europe. Through the LTF, Canadian soldiers participate in training exercises alongside NATO allies in order to enhance interoperability and contribute to NATO’s readiness to respond to threats that may arise. Aside from Romania, soldiers of the current LTF rotation have also participated in such exercises in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.

CAF Voices Concerns over Proposed Energy East Pipeline

By: CBC News 

As hearings get underway on the proposed Energy East pipeline, documents obtained by the CBC's French-language service, Radio-Canada, show the Canadian military has expressed grave concerns about the possibility of an oil spill.

Memos released under Access to Information show officials at the Canadian Forces garrison in Petawawa, Ont., have been demanding answers from TransCanada Corp., the company behind the project, about a section of pipeline that passes through the base. The pipeline, which is already in place, is designed to transport natural gas, but would be switched to carrying oil if Energy East goes ahead.

In a series of emails dating back to 2014, Donald Megrath, the hazardous material officer for Petawawa, lays out his concerns about a potential pipeline breach on the nearby Petawawa River.

"A crude oil spill … is a significant environmental event," he writes in one note.

"What is their emergency response plan to cover, control and respond to this?"

Another email from January 2015 raises concerns about the possibility of "an epic, life, environmental and social altering spill."

The documents detail some of the correspondence between the military and TransCanada. The company wrote a letter in April 2014 to answer a series of specific questions posed by defence officials about what sort of emergency planning TransCanada had carried out to respond to a spill along the pipeline, especially near water sources.

In the letter, the company assures the military its pipeline can be shut down "within minutes" in the event of a breach. In further correspondence, the company clarifies just how close its pipeline would come to other military installations, revealing it would pass within 600 metres of the Canadian Forces base in North Bay, Ont., and just 200 metres from the base in Suffield, Alta.
Common concerns

Tim Duboyce, a spokesman for TransCanada, says the questions raised by the military echo those of other groups and individuals who are concerned about pipeline safety.

"Of course, security and safety is the most important issue, at front of mind for people," Duboyce said.

"It's the most important issue for us as well, as a company."

While Duboyce was not familiar with the documents outlining the military's issues with the proposed pipeline, he confirmed TransCanada has had discussions with officials at CFB Petawawa and will continue to do so if more questions arise.

Duboyce also repeated an argument pipeline proponents have made countless times that pipelines are "the safest way that we have at our disposal as a society to move oil to market."
Public hearings

Opponents of Energy East, however, are not convinced.

"National Defence is asking questions that everyone is asking," said Sidney Ribaux, director general of the environmental group Equiterre.

"Unfortunately, like National Defence, most of us are not getting those answers."

Ribaux accuses TransCanada of trying to push through its project without formulating a proper emergency response plan, calling it "very disappointing but not so surprising."

The National Energy Board launched public hearings on the $15-billion Energy East project in Saint John yesterday. If approved, it will transport diluted bitumen roughly 4,500 kilometres from the Alberta oilsands to refineries in Eastern Canada. The National Energy Board must hand in its report to the federal government by March 2018.