After two months of sailing around the West African coast and strengthening relationships with countries in the region, Her Majesty’s Canadian Ships (HMCS) Summerside and Moncton returned to their home port of Halifax on May 2.
Travelling a distance of more than 12,500 nautical miles, HMCS Summerside and Moncton had the opportunity to collaborate with non-governmental organizations to encourage the participation of girls and women in non-traditional roles, promote literacy and education and encourage community-wide efforts of environmental stewardship in the region.
The ships conducted several port visits during their deployment to countries like Senegal, the Canary Islands, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire.
“I have learned time and again that the best of Canada can be represented in distant waters through the young sailors of the Royal Canadian Navy. I have received nothing but positive feedback on the assistance rendered by our personnel in Western Africa. They established meaningful contacts for future engagement, and planted the seeds for improved sovereignty protection as the coastal states strive to work together to combat overfishing, pollution, crime, and emergencies at sea. Ashore and in the communities visited, our sailors were exceptional ambassadors of Canada, reinforcing what a navy does for its nation,” said RAdm. John Newton, Commander Joint Task Force Atlantic and Commander Maritime Forces Atlantic.
Also during their deployment, HMCS Summerside and Moncton, a detachment of personnel from the Royal Canadian Navy’s Maritime Tactical Operations Group (MTOG), and a cadre of liaison and support staff, participated in OBANGAME EXPRESS 17. This was the first time a Canadian contingent had taken part in this exercise.
OBANGAME EXPRESS 17 is a 12-day, U.S. Naval Forces Africa-led training event that include the participation of more than 20 countries.
OBANGAME EXPRESS, meaning togetherness in the Central African language of Fang, is designed to improve coastal state cooperation and increase maritime security of the West African coastline, centring around the Gulf of Guinea.
Boarding specialists from MTOG, had the chance to guide regional partners on ways to enhance partner boarding and search and seizure techniques during the exercise.
HMCS Moncton and Summerside also participated in boarding scenarios, demonstrated small boat, gunnery and radio procedures during day sails with participating African nations and “conduced short-term personnel exchanges in order to foster mutual understanding and situational awareness at sea,” according to a Department of National Defence press release.