Old sights and new experiences: HMCS Charlottetown deployed to the Black Sea

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Article / August 12, 2016

It isn’t every day that Canadian sailors can stand on their ship and look at the majestic historical structures along the Gallipoli Peninsula.

For HMCS Charlottetown, the impressive Helles Memorial was just one of the sights for the ship’s company to take in as they completed their Black Sea deployment and transited back into the Aegean. From July 18th to August 5th 2016, HMCS Charlottetown conducted operations in the Black Sea as part of Operation REASSURANCE.

The opportunity to deploy to the Black Sea gave the ship’s company much more than just a sight-seeing experience.

To start, the ship had to navigate through the narrow passage in Istanbul that connects the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara. The straits are quite wide at both ends, but they narrow to as little as 500 m amidst the heavy ferry traffic of Istanbul. Some 38 ferries steadily cross the straits, often passing within metres of the 124 (average) commercial vessels that transit daily.

The most experienced members of the crew were called to their stations at the helm and machinery control room. They took up critical positions, controlling throttles and emergency steering among other important tasks.

While in the Black Sea, HMCS Charlottetown was a part of Standing NATO Maritime Group Two, Task Unit Two, along with Polish Warship ORP Gen Kosciuszko. They were joined by Romanian warship ROS Regina Maria.

Together, the ships participated in maritime exercises SEA SHIELD and SEA BREEZE with NATO allies and partner states. The exercises focused primarily on maritime interdiction operations as a means to enhance maritime security. The training exercises included air defense, anti-submarine warfare, damage control, search and rescue, and other tactical manoeuvres.

Exercises like SEA SHIELD and SEA BREEZE develop interoperability with the armed forces of our partners and allies,” said Commander Andrew Hingston, Commanding Officer of HMCS Charlottetown and Commander of SNMG2 TU.02. “I’d like to thank all of the participating countries for their help in organizing these exercises, thus enhancing security in the region.

The crew continued to strengthen ties with regional allies during a port visit in the historic city of Constanta, Romania.

As the crew entered the Aegean, they saluted the Turkish Çanakkale Martyrs' Memorial, signaling the end of a demanding but rewarding two and a half weeks.

HMCS Charlottetown is one of few Canadian ships to have such an opportunity in recent years. Before Operation REASSURANCE started in 2014, it was rare for the Royal Canadian Navy to travel to the Black Sea. The Montreux Convention dictates that a maximum of nine non-Black Sea state warships may pass at any one time, and they are permitted to stay in the Black Sea for no longer than twenty-one days.

HMCS Charlottetown has returned to its regular Standing NATO Maritime Group Two duties in the Mediterranean Sea. As part of Operation REASSURANCE, it is contributing to NATO’s assurance and deterrence measures in Central and Eastern Europe.

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