Royal Canadian Navy team contributes to Middle East maritime security

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Article / August 8, 2016

By: Lucy Ellis

Canadian Armed Forces members have completed a four month deployment to Bahrain.

The five-member team supported the British Royal Navy contingent in command of Combined Task Force 150 (CTF-150) from April 11th to August 4th 2016.

Within the CTF-150 construct, our principle mission is to disrupt terrorist organizations and their unlawful activities by restricting their freedom of manoeuvre at sea,” said Lieutenant (Navy) Dave Vanderstelt, the Canadian Task Force Commander.

This goal is accomplished through impressive coordination throughout the region. CTF-150 is responsible for the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, the Gulf of Oman, and the Indian Ocean, an area of over 3 million square miles. Within that area, there are a number of vessels and aircraft that can be tasked to support maritime security operations.

The Canadian team contributed to the mission through their various roles, such as working with the intelligence cell or providing technical expertise. They were fully embedded into the British command team.

Lt (N) Vanderstelt served as a Battle Watch Captain; he was part of the team that received reports from the units under CTF-150’s tactical command. “Through them, we could see what the recognized maritime picture was in order to make an assessment as to what we wanted to do and where we wanted to strategically place assets to be more productive,” said Lt (N) Vanderstelt.

This coordination was effective. Lt (N) Vanderstelt discussed two of the highlights from his tour. “For the mission itself, we’ve had some success in making narcotics busts. HMAS Darwin seized over a tonne of heroin and HMS Defender, later on in the summer, seized over a metric tonne of hashish,” said Lt (N) Vanderstelt. “It was pretty rewarding that we were able to accomplish that.

Both of those drug seizures were due to combined maritime and aerial efforts from international partners, reflecting the command cell’s ability to direct assets where they need to go.

It was an eye opener to all of us about how important CTF-150 is and the level of stability it is giving to the region,” said Lt(N) Vanderstelt.

Success at CTF-150 comes from the international partners coming together, sharing best practices, and working effectively as a team.

Given the similarities between the British and Canadian militaries, it was no surprise that they were able to integrate so smoothly. The Canadian team also had the opportunity to work with regional partners such as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. It was a valuable experience to learn about different perspectives on maritime security in the gulf region.

The Canadian Armed Forces have contributed to CTF-150 through Operation ARTEMIS since 2012.

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