Canada Kicks Ass

Ship joins Arctic show of force
Date: Monday, August 09 2004
Topic: Military, Security, and Defence

HMCS Montreal, troops and rangers head north for massive exercise

A Halifax-based naval frigate will get out of the summer heat this week as it leaves for a massive military exercise in the Arctic. The 225 sailors aboard the frigate will join 160 troops from the Royal Canadian Regiment and a team of Canadian Rangers from Nunavut. Fixed-wing aircraft, Griffon helicopters and a group from Canadian Forces Northern Area will also participate.

The combined forces will practise responding to such scenarios as a simulated cruise ship sinking and an environmental disaster.

There will also be other tests that will be kept secret until they're sprung on the military personnel.

The training exercises will take place in and around Iqaluit and Pangnirtung, Nunavut, through Aug. 25.

"We hope to be able to prove our communications system and our interoperability with the army and the air force in working together in the Arctic," said LaViolette.

Operation Narwhal - named after the Arctic whale with a horn-like tusk - will be the first time a major warship has been in the area in 15 years, LaViolette said.

The Montreal is one of the navy's 12 helicopter-carrying frigates and measures 134 metres in length.

"It's a good opportunity for us to get back there with a larger ship," LaViolette said, noting that an exercise in the area in 2002 involved primarily coastal defence vessels.

But there are also challenges to bringing a large ship into the Arctic.

"Ice is always an issue. The frigates aren't icebreakers, so we have to take precautions."

Those precautions include being aware of how thick ice is before trying to push through it.

In May, HMCS Montreal helped track and seize nets from a Portuguese trawler fishing in Canadian waters off the Tail of the Grand Banks.

The vessel also spent eight months deployed to the Persian Gulf, returning to its home port of Halifax in April 2003.

By SUSAN AITKEN / The Canadian Press

This article comes from Canada Kicks Ass

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