Operation ARTEMIS

Operation ARTEMIS is the Canadian Armed Forces’ participation in counterterrorism and maritime security operations across the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, the Gulf of Oman and the Indian Ocean.

Operation ARTEMIS clearly demonstrates Canada’s solidarity with partners and allies that are working together for peace and security in the maritime environment of the greater Middle East region.

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Currently there are no CAF forces or assets deployed on Operation ARTEMIS.

Mission context

Combined Maritime Forces

Canada is one of 30 nations that contribute naval assets to Combined Maritime Forces, the naval coalition that promotes security and stability in the international waters of the Middle East region. This area comprises some of the world’s busiest and most important shipping lanes.

Combined Maritime Forces was formed in February 2002 as the coalition headquarters responsible for coordinating and leading naval participation in the international campaign against terrorism. Over the years, its mandate expanded to include counter-piracy operations as part of international efforts to ensure security in the maritime environment of the greater Middle East.

 Combined Maritime Forces has its headquarters in Bahrain. It is commanded by the U.S. Navy vice-admiral who is also the commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central (NAVCENT) and the United States Fifth Fleet, both also headquartered in Bahrain. Its deputy commander is a British commodore from the Royal Navy. Canadian Armed Forces staff and liaison officers serve at Combined Maritime Forces Headquarters under Operation FOUNDATION.

Combined Task Force 150

Combined Maritime Forces comprises three operational headquarters, called combined task forces:

  • CTF 150, responsible for maritime security and counter-terrorism;
  • CTF 151, responsible for counter-piracy; and
  • CTF 152, responsible for security and cooperation in the Persian Gulf.

Through maritime security operations, regional cooperation and capacity building, CTF 150 works to deter and deny terrorist organisations from using the high seas for smuggling weapons, illicit cargo, and narcotics to fund their illegal activities, while ensuring the safe passage of merchant ships.

The activities of CTF 150 directly influence events ashore, denying terrorists the use of the seas as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons, or other illicit material.

Canadian involvement in CTF 150

Canada is a long time contributor to CTF 150. It has regularly deployed ships and personnel to operate with CTF 150 since the beginning of Operation ALTAIR in 2004 and with CTF 150’s predecessor, Task Force 150, from 2001 to 2003 as part of Operation APOLLO.

From 2004 to 2008, seven Royal Canadian Navy ships served with CTF 150 while deployed on Operation ALTAIR:

  • HMCS Toronto patrolled with the USS George Washington Carrier Strike Group from January to July 2004;
  • HMCS Winnipeg deployed from April to October 2005; 
  • HMCS Ottawa deployed with the USS Boxer Expeditionary Strike Group from September 2006 to March 2007;
  • HMCS Charlottetown contributed to the USS Harry S Truman Carrier Strike Group from November 2007 to April 2008; 
  • HMCS Iroquois was the CTF 150 flag ship under the command of Commodore Bob Davidson from June 3 to September 15, 2008, and participated in Task Force Arabian Sea alongside HMCS Protecteur and HMCS Calgary from April to October 2008; and 
  • HMCS Fredericton served with CTF 150 while deployed on Operation SAIPH from October 25 2009 to April 8, 2010.

Past deployments on Operation ARTEMIS

Task Force Arabian Sea

Task Force Arabian Sea

Task Force Arabian Sea (TFAS) is the land-based CAF support to CTF 150 in Manama, Bahrain.

The first contingent led CTF 150 from December 2014 to April 2015. This was the second time that Canada was selected to assume a leadership role in Combined Maritime Forces.

This contingent was composed of 24 CAF military and Department of National Defence (DND) civilian personnel as well as seven members from the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).  The Task Force Commander was Commodore Brian Santarpia of the Royal Canadian Navy. His Deputy Commander and Chief of Staff was Captain Nicholas Stoker of the RAN.

From December 2015 to April 2016, seven CAF members supported CTF 150 under the command of the Australian Defence Force. Captain (Navy) William Quinn, the TFAS Commander, also assumed the role of Deputy Commander and Chief of Staff of CTF 150.

From April to August 2016, five CAF members supported the British Royal Navy in command of CTF 150.

From December 8, 2016 to April 13, 2017, twenty-eight CAF members and two DND civilians led CTF 150. They did so with the support of eight members of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). The Task Force Commander was Commodore Haydn Edmundson of the Royal Canadian Navy. His Deputy Commander and Chief of Staff was Captain Paul Scott of the RAN.

During this Operation ARTEMIS deployment, the CAF began to use the Unclassified Remote-sensing Situational Awareness system (URSA). URSA is satellite based. It can be used to detect ships. The CAF shared this information with the Combined Maritime Forces and the United States Naval Command Central as part of CTF 150.

During this deployment on Op ARTEMIS, CAF members participated in Exercise CUTLASS EXPRESS 17, which took place from January 30 to February 8, 2017. CAF members went to eastern Africa and island nations in the Indian Ocean to take part. CTF 150 was the Combined Maritime Forces’ lead for this exercise. The goal was to help east African and nearby island nations develop long-term methods to stop terrorism.

In March 2017, Australian and American ships deployed under the Canadian-led, Australian-supported CTF 150 conducted three drug seizures in the Arabian Sea. Australian ship HMAS Arunta seized more than 800 kg of hashish on March 2. United States Ship USS Laboon seized 270 kg of heroin on March 13 and 500 kg of hashish on March 17.

HMCS Regina

HMCS Regina

HMCS Regina left its home port of Esquimalt, British Columbia on January 6, 2014 and assumed duties in the Arabian sea region on February 15, 2014. On April 30, 2014, HMCS Regina was committed to support NATO reassurance measures in Europe. In early-May 2014, the ship left the Arabian Sea to join NATO Standing Maritime Forces in the Mediterranean Sea.

HMCS Toronto

HMCS Toronto

The Halifax-based patrol frigate HMCS Toronto was deployed on Operation ARTEMIS to serve with CTF 150. It departed its home port of Halifax, Nova Scotia on January 14, 2013. It assumed duties with CTF 150 in the Arabian Sea region on February 3, 2013. HMCS Toronto had a crew of about 250 personnel, which included a CH-124 Sea King helicopter air detachment and a shipboard unmanned aerial vehicle detachment. The first crew of HMCS Toronto successfully completed their deployment on July 28, 2013.

After a month-long rest and maintenance period, the entire ship’s company was replaced in July 2013 with a second crew – a rare feat for the Royal Canadian Navy. In total, HMCS Toronto I and II steamed approximately 80,000 nautical miles and conducted over 60 boardings. Its CH-124 Sea King helicopter logged more than 700 flying hours, and the unmanned aerial vehicle detachment logged more than 1,200 operational hours. The ship successfully intercepted and destroyed nine narcotics shipments, totalling approximately 8.5 metric tonnes. HMCS Toronto left the Op ARTEMIS Joint Operations Area (JOA) on February 6, 2014.

Task Force Northwood

Task Force Northwood

Task Force Northwood was a team of three Royal Canadian Navy personnel deployed in the United Kingdom at the NATO Shipping Centre, part of the Maritime Component Command Headquarters in Northwood, England. Originally deployed between 2009 and 2012 on Operation SAIPH, Task Force Northwood joined as a component of Operation ARTEMIS on May 31, 2012. It was engaged in the multinational effort to ensure the safe passage of merchant shipping through the waters off the Horn of Africa, in the Gulf of Aden and in the Indian Ocean. Task Force Northwood ceased operations in September 2013.

HMCS Regina

HMCS Regina

The Halifax-class frigate HMCS Regina was deployed on Operation ARTEMIS to serve with CTF 150. It departed its home port of Esquimalt, British Columbia on July 3, 2012 to begin the long transit to the operational area by way of the Pacific Ocean, and joined CTF 150 in the Arabian Sea on August 19, 2012. HMCS Regina had a crew of about 250 personnel, including an embarked air detachment with a CH-124 Sea King helicopter and a shipboard unmanned aerial vehicle detachment. HMCS Regina departed the Op ARTEMIS JOA on January 28, 2013.

HMCS Charlottetown

HMCS Charlottetown

The Halifax-class frigate HMCS Charlottetown was the first ship deployed on Operation ARTEMIS. It departed its home port of Halifax, Nova Scotia on January 8, 2012 to begin a six-month deployment on Operation METRIC, and joined Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 in the Mediterranean Sea on January 25, 2012 to take part in Operation ACTIVE ENDEAVOUR. HMCS Charlottetown transferred from Op METRIC to Op ARTEMIS on May 1, 2012. HMCS Charlottetown sailed from the Mediterranean Sea via the Suez Canal and joined CTF 150 in the Arabian Sea. HMCS Charlottetown departed the JOA on August 24, 2012.

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