HMCS St. John’s midway through Operation REASSURANCE deployment

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Article / April 21, 2017

By: Lieutenant (Navy) Emily Anglin, HMCS St. John’s Unit Public Affairs Representative

Halfway into their tour, the 240 sailors, soldiers, and aviators onboard Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) St. John’s are getting a well-deserved rest.

The ship left Halifax, Nova Scotia, on January 9, 2017. Sea Training (Atlantic) personnel were onboard, and soon began preparing the crew for the work that lay ahead.

St. John’s has accomplished a great deal,” said Commanding Officer Commander Sheldon Gillis. “We continued HMCS Charlottetown’s great work and have fully integrated with our NATO allies and other partners, preparing us to meet our collective defence and deterrence obligations.”

In Lisbon, Portugal, everyone enjoyed a brief but memorable visit to the historic city as the ship picked up kit prior to heading to the Black Sea. The next stop in Istanbul served as the perfect port of call from which to begin Exercise SEA SHIELD, which took place in early February.

In between exercising with NATO allies in the Black Sea, St. John’s visited ports in Constanta, Romania, and Samsun, Turkey.

“The crew worked hard both at sea and alongside,” said Commander Gillis. “They demonstrated not only the capabilities but also the well-known hospitality of a Royal Canadian Navy warship engaged in an international deployment.”

From Turkey, St. John’s sailed back through the Bosporus and Dardanelles to Italy. Enroute, the ship prepared for Exercise DYNAMIC MANTA.

The exercise tested the crew’s ability to find, track, and prosecute submarines. St. John’s made full use of embarked CH-124 Sea King helicopter “Blackhorse” to hunt a variety of allied nuclear and diesel-electric submarines.

“Blackhorse” has flown over 200 hours since St. John’s departed Halifax. This includes training with the enhanced naval boarding party (ENBP).

“Working with the ENBP was a unique opportunity that a Sea King crew only gets while sailing,” remarked Captain David Lee, one of the Air Detachment’s Tactical Officers. “This deployment has been a highly valuable experience, as much of the flying we do at sea cannot be replicated from a shore base.”

St. John’s also conducted a passage exercise with two ships of the Hellenic Navy and  participated in naval gunfire support. The ship then went to Souda Bay, Crete, where it conducted important tests of various emitters. Finally, St. John’s went to Toulon, France, for the rest and maintenance period.

This time gives the crew a chance to go on leave and reunite with family and friends after over three months away from home. When they return, St. John’s will leave port, ready to face the many challenges that lie ahead.

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