HMCS Charlottetown participates in refugee rescue training, maritime warfare drills during Exercise NAIAS 2016

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Article / December 21, 2016

By: Lieutenant (Navy) Benoit Plante

From December 12 to 16, 2016, Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Charlottetown participated in the Greek-led Exercise NAIAS 2016 in the Mediterranean Sea.

The aim of the exercise was to provide intermediate and advanced training to maritime forces under an international crisis situation within a fictitious scenario that focused on current security challenges. The crisis scenario included both conventional and unconventional threats.

During the first days, HMCS Charlottetown participated in different training scenarios such as air defense warfare, anti-submarine warfare and replenishment at sea. The last day of the exercise was dedicated to a refugee rescue scenario. This was an excellent opportunity for HMCS Charlottetown to conduct this challenging form of training during the deployment on Operation REASSURANCE.

The scenario involved a small boat with refugees on board coming in contact with HMCS Charlottetown. Following hailing procedures, Charlottetown sent a small boat with naval boarding party members to intercept and bring the refugees onboard the ship.

“As part of the scenario, we were told that a hostile individual might be among the refugees,” explained a naval boarding party officer. “We planned for this possibility and sent naval boarding party members to search the refugees and make sure we do not bring any threat onboard our ship.”

The refugees were escorted to the helicopter hangar where the logistics department had set up a refugee intake center. The refugee intake center included an administration area, a primary and secondary triage section, and a rest area.

The refugees were processed through all the sections in order to make sure that they passed a security screening, received all appropriate medical care and were provided with food, water and a blanket to use in order to get some rest.

“The exercise was a great training opportunity for the logistics department and the casualty clearance team,” said Lieutenant (Navy) Elizabeth Eldridge, HMCS Charlottetown’s Logistics Officer. “It was a valuable training scenario where we had to set up a full scale refugee intake center.”

HMCS Charlottetown is currently deployed on Operation REASSURANCE in support of NATO’s assurance and deterrence measures through the provision of military capabilities for training, exercises, demonstrations, and assigned NATO tasks. Charlottetown has a crew of approximately 250 personnel of all ranks, including a CH-124 Sea King helicopter and air detachment.

Exercise NAIAS 2016 is the last exercise that HMCS Charlottetown will conduct before the ship leaves Operation REASSURANCE to return homeport early in the New Year.

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