How to keep a warship ready for the fight: HMCS Charlottetown’s Combat Systems Engineering department

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Article / November 4, 2016

By: Lt(N) Benoit Plante,Operation REASSURANCE Maritime Task Force Public Affairs Officer

Every sailor and officer in the Royal Canadian Navy is taught during their training that a warship needs to do three basic things: float, move and fight. Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Charlottetown’s Combat System Engineering (CSE) department is responsible for ensuring the ship is ready to fight at all times.

Charlottetown’s CSE department is composed of three officers and 28 weapons engineering technicians working in one of the five major specialties of their trade: radar, sonar, communications, armament and fire control.

 “Within the CSE department, we have personnel with the technical skills and knowledge to repair and maintain all of our combat systems,” said Lieutenant (Navy) Hubert Tong, Combat Systems Engineering Officer onboard HMCS Charlottetown, “My team is responsible for keeping those systems operational so that the ship has maximum combat capability at all times to respond to any situation at sea.”

Since being deployed on Operation REASSURANCE in July 2016, HMCS Charlottetown has continuously employed its suite of combat systems, such as the sonars, radars and fire control systems. These systems provide situational awareness to the ship in order to be able to manoeuver and fight. Availability of communications systems onboard is also critical to all operations conducted at sea, from exiting harbour to replenishing at sea, to returning alongside. 

Moreover, as part of Operation REASSURANCE, Charlottetown participates in training exercises such as Exercise SEA BREEZE and Exercise JOINT WARRIOR and has the opportunity to use the weapons systems during gunnery and air defence exercises.

The CSE department appreciates opportunities where the ship can use the weapons systems. The department can see the operators using most of the sensors and communication systems on board on a daily basis. However, firing weapons systems is not something that happens every day.

“Operation REASSURANCE offers us invaluable opportunities to fire our 57mm Main Gun and the 20mm Close-in Weapon System (CIWS), as well as exercises our fire control systems. This is great; successful shoots validate the hard work that our technicians do to keep these systems in peak condition,” concluded Chief Petty Officer Second Class Matt Boniface, CSE Chief.

HMCS Charlottetown is currently deployed on Operation REASSURANCE in 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.

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