Operation NANOOK

 

Operation NANOOK has taken place each year since 2007. It is carried out across Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, making it the largest military presence in Canada's North.

Canada is an Arctic nation.  It holds full rights and legal power over its Northern territories. The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) plays a key role in this. It guards Canada’s sovereignty and defends the country against threats in the region. It also works with other agencies to overcome security and environmental concerns in the area.

The CAF works with international military and security partners on Op NANOOK. They meet once a year in the Arctic to train and work together. This also involves other Canadian government departments and agencies, and allied armed forces. Together, they train to respond to threats to security and the environment.

Objectives

The objectives of Op NANOOK are to:

  • assert Canada’s sovereignty over its northernmost regions
  • improve the way Canada’s military operates in Arctic conditions
  • improve coordination in whole-of-government operations
  • work with mission partners to best respond to safety and security issues in the North

The Task Force

The number and makeup of CAF members sent on Op Nanook changes from year to year. It is based on planned activities and exercises.  But it always includes 1st Canadian Ranger Patrol Group and 440 “Vampire” Transport Squadron.

CAF members on Op NANOOK have served with allied military partners from year to year. Canadian federal government departments and agencies and provincial, territorial and municipal governments also take part. They train together to meet threats to security and the environment.

Global Significance

The Arctic has large reserves of fossil fuels. There are also large mineral deposits, including gold and diamonds. All this is drawing more and more commercial attention from Canada and other countries. Also, climate change is gradually melting the Arctic icecap. This means Arctic waters are easier to navigate every year and more ships enter the region. Air traffic in the North is also growing.  In 2003, the number of flights on polar routes in Canadian airspace was fewer than 1,000. In 2010, it was almost 10,000.

The increase in sea and air traffic, along with the new interest in oil and minerals, brings new threats. Risks include sovereignty challenges, environmental problems and search-and-rescue demands. Crime is also a concern, especially people and goods entering illegally.

Past deployments

2016

Operation NANOOK 2016

About 850 Canadian military members and civilians served on Op NANOOK 16. It ran from August 21 to September 2.  It took place near the Whitehorse and Haines Junction area of Yukon and in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut. The CAF sent in land, sea, and air units. This included military members for command, staff and support. Civilians from federal and territorial organizations also joined in.

Op NANOOK 2016 took place in two parts. One was a safety exercise.  It featured a whole-of-government response to a simulated earthquake. The other was arctic security training. This included military patrols, search and rescue training, and simulated combat exercises.  The CAF showed that it could work well in the North with other partners.  This is important in a real emergency.

2015

Operation NANOOK 2015

Op NANOOK 15 was based out of Inuvik, Northwest Territories. It ran from August 16 to 30, 2015.  About 650 military members took part.

NANOOK 15 centered on safety, security and defence in Canada’s North.  The CAF worked with other government groups. It also worked to forge better ties with local authorities, Indigenous peoples and international partners.

Other countries also helped make NANOOK 15 a success. The United States took part in the training exercises. The United Kingdom and France sent observers.   

CAF members from sea, land and air units took part in NANOOK 15.  The CAF also supported government departments and agencies.  There were several training scenarios. They included exercises on oil spill and consequence management, security, and safety issues.  Safety and security themed training events took place in and around five northern communities. This did two things.  One was to exercise Canada’s sovereignty in the North. It also showed how the CAF supported a national, regional and local response to crisis.

Op NANOOK confirms that the CAF can operate well in the Arctic.  The exercises show that Canada’s supports its mission partners’ response to safety and security in the North.

2014

Operation NANOOK 2014

Operation NANOOK 14 took place in the Baffin Island region of Nunavut from August 20 to 29.  More than 800 participants took part. There were members from all CAF branches as well as people from federal and territorial governments.  The Royal Danish Navy sent a ship.  The United States Navy provided a surveillance aircraft.

NANOOK 14 was driven by training scenarios that provided a visible presence in the North. It showed Canada's ability to respond to security and safety incidents in the region. There were two key areas of focus. One was search and rescue (SAR) capabilities. The other was the CAF’s ability to support other government departments (OGDs) in remote areas of the North.

The two scenarios took place off the coast of Baffin Island in the Davis Strait and York Sound. Both were simulations.  Both showed how the participants could work together and be effective.

  • A Search and Rescue (SAR) exercise (SAREX) was held from August 20 to 23 in the Davis Strait. It featured a fishing boat in distress. Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) Halifax led the SAR operation to locate the boat and survivors. The JRCC was supported by HMCS Shawinigan, HMDS Triton, and the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Henry Larsen with their aircraft.
  • From August 25 to 29, Canadian Armed Forces members responded to a 50-passenger cruise ship grounded due to mechanical difficulties in York Sound. The CAF sent out a major air disaster kit. It worked with OGDs to respond to the simulated crisis.
2013

Operation NANOOK 2013

Operation NANOOK 13 had three main focuses. One was to support emergency management scenarios. The second involved a response to public safety threats.  The last was to assist law enforcement agencies.  The operation ran from August 2 to 23.

There were four separate scenarios. They took place in four different areas of Canada’s North with distinct geography.

  • In Whitehorse, CAF members, in the air and on land, provided the Government of Yukon with disaster relief. This was because of a national wildfire that was threatening that city;
  • Environment Canada asked for CAF assistance on Cornwallis Island, Nunavut, after a report of suspected poaching activities in the area;
  • The CAF worked with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police on Resolution Island. They helped investigate simulated suspicious activity; and
  • The Canadian Rangers conducted simulated patrols on King William Island. This was to report on activity in the Northwest Passage.         
2012

Operation NANOOK 2012

Operation NANOOK 12 ran from August 1 to 26.  It demonstrated Canada's Arctic capabilities in two locations that are far apart. One was Inuvik and Tsiigehtchic, Northwest Territories, in the western Arctic. The other was Hudson Strait, Hudson Bay and its shore area.

In both places, CAF members took part in simulated scenarios.  In the West, CAF air and land forces worked with the RCMP and other government partners. The scenario involved a security incident.  In the East, the RCMP led a whole-of-government response to a “vessel of interest” scenario.  They asked for military assistance.   Both cases centred on the primary focuses of the CAF at home. These are safeguarding the nation, stopping threats to Canadian security, and responding to emergencies anywhere in the country.

Global participants on Operation NANOOK 2012 included:

  • a warship from the Royal Danish Navy;
  • a U.S. Coast Guard vessel; and
  • observers from the United Kingdom and the United States.

More than 1250 CAF members took part in NANOOK 12.  They were from:

  • the Royal Canadian Navy;
  • the Canadian Army (including the Canadian Rangers);
  • the Royal Canadian Air Force; and
  • the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command.
2011

Operation NANOOK 2011

Operation NANOOK 11 ran from August 4 to September 1. It was planned in two phases. The first phase was conducted with international partners from the United States and Denmark. It included sovereignty and presence patrolling. This was done ashore on Cornwallis Island and at sea in Davis Strait, Baffin Bay and Lancaster Sound.  It also involved the first use of an unmanned aerial vehicle in the high Arctic.

The second phase was an exercise using an air-disaster scenario. It was cancelled to allow the engaged forces to respond to a real crisis.  On August 21, 2011, First Air Flight 6560 crashed near Resolute Bay, Nunavut.  CAF members on NANOOK 11 were first on the scene. They helped the civilian authorities throughout the rescue and recovery operations.

About 1100 CAF members served on NANOOK 11.  They came from:

  • the Royal Canadian Navy;
  • the Canadian Army (including the Canadian Rangers);
  • the Royal Canadian Air Force; and
  • the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command

There were also more than 100 allied military personnel.

2010

Operation NANOOK 2010

Operation NANOOK 10 ran from August 6 to 26. It took place in the eastern Arctic and high Arctic.  More than 900 CAF members took part.  There were also about 600 personnel from the Canadian Coast Guard, the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Royal Danish Navy. The operation ended with a whole-of-government exercise. It was a simulated petrochemical leak in Resolute Bay, Nunavut.

2009

Operation NANOOK 2009

Operation NANOOK 09 ran from August 6 to 28.  It took place on the southeastern coast of Baffin Island. It had three phases. The first was sovereignty patrolling. The second was a military exercise focusing on  warfare against submarines. The last was a whole-of-government exercise that involved more than 15 departments and agencies.

2008

Operation NANOOK 2008

Operation NANOOK 08 ran from August 16 to 26.  It took place in and around three communities on Baffin Island. These were Iqaluit, Kimmirut, and Pangnirtung in Nunavut. NANOOK 08 involved emergency exercises at sea. These included the evacuation of a ship in distress and an oil spill.

2007

Operation NANOOK 2007

Operation NANOOK 07 ran from August 7 to 17. It took place on Baffin Island near Iqaluit and Kimmirut in Nunavut. It included drug trafficking and oil-spill scenarios. It involved about 650 CAF members, two surface ships, a submarine, and four types of aircraft.

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