Friday, April 24, 2015

HMCS Algonquin, Preserver, and Protecteur all Retiring from Service

The state of the Royal Canadian Navy has been deteriorating over the past number of decades, and its future is looking more and more uncertain. 2015 will leave its mark on the already shrunken Naval Force, with four of its flag ships being 'paid off' or otherwise known as retiring from service.

Last week I posted about HMCS Iroquois' retirement after 43 years of service on May 1, 2015. The Royal Canadian Navy has since confirmed the dates of its other destroyer and two supply ships.

The HMCS Algonguin  will be retired on Thursday June 11, 2015, at CFB Esquimalt, the ships home since 1994. It was commissioned November 3 1973, and began her career in Halifax. The Algonquin has served the Royal Canadian Navy for 41 spectacular years. It saw deployments to the Standing Naval Forces Atlantic Task Group, to the Gulf of Oman for OP APOLLO, the Eastern Pacific, and numerous deployments to OP CARIBBE.

HMCS Algonquin (DDG 283)2.jpg
HMCS Algonquin. File Image (2004) 
The HMCS Protecteur will be retired May 14, 2015 at CFB Esquimalt after 46 years of Service to the Royal Canadian Navy. It was one of the RCN's auxiliary oiler replenishment ships. Protecteur was commission August 30, 1969 and began her career in the Atlantic before being transferred to the Pacific Coast. Her deployment honours include participation in Operation Desert Shield in 1991, Hurricane Andrew Relief in 1992, and part of the multinational task force to assist East Timor from 1999 to 2000, as well as OP APOLLO.  She will be largely remembered for her humanitarian efforts around the world. 

HMCS Protecteur (AOR 509).jpg
HMCS Protecteur. File Image (2009)
HMCS Preserver, the sister ship of Protecteur  was scheduled to be retired at around the same time as her sister, but DND and the RCN has delayed announcing her retirement date. Preserver  has served the RCN for more than 40 years, and while no longer serving as an active at-sea replenishment vessel, she continues to act as a fueling service for the Atlantic Fleet in Halifax. She was commissioned on the 7 August 1970. She served on Operation DELIVERANCE, off the coast of the former Yugoslavia, search for Swiss Air flight 111, and OP APOLLO. Corrosion was found on her hull in 2014, and she has been off active duty since. She will be retired either later in 2015 or early 2016. 

HMCS Preserver during New York fleet week 2009
HMCS Preserver. File Image (2009)
The RCN's replacement supply ships (Queenston-Class auxiliary vessels) based on the German Berlin-Class are currently planned for service in 2019/2020. The RCN would like to acquire 3 of these vessels, but the final number has yet to be decided. The minimum would be two. 

The Canadian Surface Combatant fleet (a planned 15 vessels) will eventually replace all of Canada's frigates as well as its destroyers. None have yet even begun construction, and the first is not planned to be ready well into 2018 (a generous estimate) with the likelihood being more like 2020. The entire fleet was supposed to be ready by 2020, and that is looking more and more like the late 2020s. 


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

CAF Completes Op NUNALIVUT 2015

Every year since 2007, the Canadian Armed Forces has been conducting Operation NUNALIVUT. The sovereignty operation  over the Arctic region, and provides as opportunity for the CAF to assert its sovereignty over the northern regions, demonstrate its ability to operate in the harsh environment and remote areas of the High Arctic.
Op NINALIVUT 2015 ran from April 1-22 2015, where more than 200 CAF personnel deployed from across Canada. A temporary base was constructed near the site of North Warning System (NWS) Cambridge bay to accommodate the military personnel. More than 45 tonnes of materials were shipped into the temporary deployment site, mainly from Yellowknife and other locations further south.

This years operation highlighted the CAF's ability to respond to threats in the High Arctic, and was comprised of members from 1 Canadian Ranger Patrol Group (1 CRPG), the 3 PPCLI, as well as the RCAF. The 2015 operation also invited members of the US National Guard along for the exercise.

Royal Canadian Navy divers were also involved in this years operation with Parks Canada underwater archaeologists. They spent time beneath the ice in the area of Victoria Strait in an effort to learn more about the fate of HMS Erebus, one of the two ill-fated Franklin Expedition ships lost in 1846 that was discovered last year.

CAF and CRPG members build Snow Walls to protect the modular tents from the Arctic winds during
Op NUNALIVUT 2015.  Photo: CF Combat Camera

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Third Deployment of OP SIRONA leaves UK for Sierra Leone

DND announced yesterday that the third group of CAF medical personnel have left the United Kingdom training centre for Kerry Town, Sierra Leone to fight the Ebola virus.

The CAF members are deploying with their British counterparts to fight the Ebola epidemic that swept across West Africa during 2014.

Click here to see the full DND Press release

Iraq Wants an Increase and faster response for Airstrikes

The CAF holds a technical briefing every two weeks to update the media on its actions against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Why every two weeks? Because there is not enough happening for a briefing every week.

That is exactly why Iraq is calling for an increase in the number of coalition airstrikes as well as faster response times for Coalition jets to be in the air.

Iraq wants the coalition to step up the number of airstrikes, as ISIS has lost between 25-35% of the territory it held last summer, and Iraq believes, with more strikes, its ground forces have a better chance at pushing ISIS back even further.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi told the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington D.C that the Coalition needs to speed up its response times when it comes to airstrikes. He claims in most cases when intelligence is provided to the coalition, by the time the jets are in the air, the fighting has stopped or the battlefield has moved.

In his claim, he also added that Coalition airstrikes needs to be more precise and more effective. (I think they are two in the same - but that is my opinion)