A Sailor in Sudan
How did I get there? How does a RCN Log Commander end up standing in an interrogation room in real danger of losing much more than his dignity? Well, the short answer is, I jumped at the chance.
I was asked to take a long-range convoy from Girouard’s rail-head in Khartoum all the way west…….read the full article
Post Cold War to the Present
Much has happened in the decade since the Gulf War. Canada’s navy profited from the fact that a variety of new programs were approved before the end of the Cold War led to a constriction of defence budgets worldwide. Yet, this in turn meant that Canada’s international stature also benefited. At the outset of the 21st century, Canada had in its service arguably the best balanced and most capable navy in its history. It speaks volumes to the inherent flexibility of naval forces that this essentially Cold War construct proved remarkably adaptable to the new world order. The country has been able to offer a modern fleet with a broad range of capabilities to a number of peace support operations in an era marked by state instability and global uncertainty. It is instructive to examine the constituent parts of the Navy of Today and how it is being employed.
The four destroyers of the Iroquois class were upgraded early in the 1990s to modern command and control and area air defence standards (earning the re-designation as DDG Guided-Missile Destroyer). Ships of this class have served as the flagship of Canadian commodores in command of NATO’s Standing Naval Force Atlantic (STANAVFORLANT), including during the Bosnia conflict of 1993-1995 and the Kosovo campaign of 1999, and have led STANAVFORLANT in support of US Drug Enforcement Agency counter-narcotics operations in the Gulf of Mexico.
The integrated combat system of the Halifax class of patrol frigates (CPFs) stands as the envy of other navies. The twelve ships of this class have toured the world as showcases of Canadian technological know-how. Single ships (in rotation) frequently have been integrated seamlessly into USN carrier battle groups deployed to the Persian (Arabian) Gulf in continued enforcement of United Nations resolutions against Iraq.
Victoria class submarines have replaced the Oberon class submarines, thus ensuring that Canada maintains a modern submarine capability and balanced fleet structure into the future. The Oberon class, originally purchased to address a fleet ASW training support need, had evolved by the mid-1970s into a significant operational capability assigned to support national and NATO commitments. More recently, in addition to their traditional roles, submarines also quite literally have brought a new dimension to such sovereignty activities as fisheries patrols and counter-drug operations, being able to approach violators unobserved. During the “Turbot Crisis” fisheries dispute in 1995, their very existence provided an important “fleet in being” deterrent effect.
The Protecteur class replenishment vessels (AORs), always critical to the operational sustainment of Canadian and allied battle fleets, have seen much of that traditional employment in operations in the Persian Gulf, off Haiti, and in the Adriatic Sea. Apart from this, these two ships have become the workhorses of the Canadian fleet. They have ranged around the globe on missions as diverse as acting as the initial afloat joint headquarters for the Canadian contingent to Somalia in 1993, and providing humanitarian assistance to East Timor in 1999-2000.
The twelve ships of the Kingston Class Maritime Coastal Defence Vessels (MCDVs) are designed to embark a variety of mission payloads, most of them for different aspects of mine countermeasures (MCM). These flexible ships also have been employed in the conduct of junior officer training and sovereignty patrol missions, and can lend support to major units of the fleet in operations. In the Swissair disaster recovery operations in 1998, for instance, four Kingston Class ships embarked MCM payloads to assist in the search for, identification, and recovery of aircraft debris. Operated by a predominantly Reserve force (supplemented by Regular force personnel), they have served as an excellent example of the Total Force concept.
- CP 140 Aurora Long Range Patrol Aircraft (LRPA) (CF Photo)
Maritime air platforms have witnessed a broadening of their employment away from the traditional tasks of anti-submarine warfare and ocean area surveillance. Long-range Aurora patrol aircraft and Sea King maritime helicopters also support national and coalition forces (joint and combined) and Other Government Departments (OGDs), through a wide range of operations that include: sanction enforcement; over-land surveillance; tactical lift; land support operations; peace support operations; counter-drug operations; monitoring of illegal immigration; pollution and environmental control; and Search and Rescue.
In the last decade of the 20th century, the Canadian navy, like the Canadian Forces in general, was more actively engaged in a greater variety of operations throughout the world than at any other period in its peacetime history. A review of the navy’s post-Cold War employment confirms the value of a balanced approach to defining naval capability requirements. Equally important is the fact that these capabilities now are resident in sufficient numbers in various platforms to allow an equitable distribution between both the Pacific and the Atlantic coasts. For the first time in its history, the Canadian navy is able to maintain a viable task group on each coast. Even if circumstances did not allow the deployment of a naval task group to any of Somalia, the Adriatic or East Timor operations, individual ships did distinguish themselves in each of those cases. Their accomplishments in combining effectively with forces of other nations were directly attributable to the high level of fleet training they had received through participation in task group exercises. As such, the task group concept remains the fundamental precept of the operational employment of the Canadian fleet, the tactical self-sufficiency of individual platforms notwithstanding. Maintaining the navy as a credible and useful force, and extending its reach into the Arctic Ocean, are the underlying objectives guiding the development of the Next Navy.