Australians and Canadians: A Proven Naval Team

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Article / February 9, 2016

A team of seven members of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) are contributing to counterterrorism and maritime security operations in the Middle East as part of Operation (Op) ARTEMIS, Canada’s contribution to Combined Task Force 150 (CTF-150).

The Canadian contingent is integrated into the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) CTF-150 command staff for a total of 26 personnel. The RCN team is under the command of Captain (Navy) William Quinn, who is serving as Deputy Commander and Chief of Staff to CTF-150. Naval Combat Information Operators, working as Battle Watch Assistants, Maritime Surface and Sub-Surface (MARS) Officers in the role of Battle Watch Captains, a Logistics Officer working in the logistics branch, and a MARS Officer contributing to planning and training, make up the rest of the RCN contingent.

The Battle Watch serves as the focal point of communications during a narcotics seizure. We are the interface between the Combined Maritime Force, the Task Force Commander, and the unit at sea that is seizing the illicit cargo. It can get a little busy.” said a Royal Canadian Navy member acting as Battle Watch Assistant.”

The Canadians’ journey to Bahrain started in Watson’s Bay in Sydney, Australia. There, they began preparations for integrating into the Australian command staff of CTF-150 marking the continuation of a successful Canadian-Australian partnership.

Over a period of three weeks, the Canadian contingent underwent rigorous training exercises consisting of scenarios they might encounter during their deployment. During this training, they were mentored by a specialized team of RAN sailors who had served in previous CTF-150 rotations. 

CTF-150’s mission is to promote maritime security in order to counter terrorist acts and related illegal activities, which terrorists use to fund or conceal their movements. The CTF-150 Area of Operations (AO) covers a vast swath of water including the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, most of the Indian Ocean, and the Gulf of Oman. CTF 150 is one of three task forces that comprise the Combined Maritime Force, a multi-national partnership created to defeat terrorism, prevent piracy, and encourage regional cooperation in the greater Arabian Gulf region. 

The newly-formed command team wasted no time getting into the mission. Coordinating a group of hardworking ships at sea from their location in Bahrain, CTF-150 staff identified and tracked vessels of interest within their AO. Halfway into the current deployment, the results speak for themselves. Over 334 kg of heroin has been taken from the hands of narcotics smugglers at sea.

The seizure and destruction of these drugs in the first two months of operations, under the current command, has deprived international terrorist organizations of an estimated $43 000 000 USD of funding and directly contributed to the safe passage of merchant ships through the region.

We have enjoyed working shoulder to shoulder with our Royal Australian Navy counterparts over these last four months, from our training period in Australia to our ongoing operations controlled from our HQ in Bahrain. We look forward to continuing our mission to ensure maritime security and international stability in some of the world’s most important shipping lanes and busiest waterways.” stated Captain (Navy) William Quinn, Deputy Commander/Chief of Staff – Combined Task Force 150

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