Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) trains on Vancouver Island

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Article / April 12, 2017

By: Lieutenant-Commander Diane Grover, Public Affairs Officer

When disaster strikes abroad, the Canadian Armed Forces’ Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) stands ready to help if called upon by the Canadian government.

So when an 8.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami struck the fictional island nation of “Macadamia”—aka Vancouver Island—in late February, elements of the DART “deployed” to assess the damage. This was part of Exercise READY RENAISSANCE 2017, the DART’s annual training event. The exercise took place  from  February 20 to 26 in several communities on Vancouver Island. These included Port Alberni, Comox and Campbell River.

For the first time, the exercise involved the Royal Canadian Navy in order to develop the DART’s joint operational capability. Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Yellowknife, a Maritime Coastal Defence Vessel, was already in the region and took part in the exercise.

“Every year we confirm the preparedness of the Disaster Assistance Response Team,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Ed Izatt, DART Commanding Officer. “And this year what is very unique is the opportunity to work closely with the navy and have us approach a disaster response scenario from the sea.”

“The Navy provides a versatile capability that can be used to great effect in disaster relief and humanitarian assistance operations,” said Lieutenant (Navy) Eric James, Operations Officer of HMCS Yellowknife. “One of our training objectives this year was to see how we can better integrate the Navy to enable the DART and support relief efforts in coastal areas.”

In addition to providing command and control capabilities, Yellowknife served to deter piracy, a realistic threat following a catastrophe. And with many of the island’s roads and bridges “impassable” due to debris and destruction, Yellowknife was also used to reach isolated communities along the west coast of “Macadamia.”

DART is the Canadian Armed Force’s high-readiness disaster and humanitarian response team. It has deployed twice in recent years. It went to the Philippines in 2013 following a typhoon, and more recently to Nepal in 2015 after an earthquake.

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