Nine members from 103 Search and Rescue Squadron from 9 Wing Gander, Newfoundland, recently returned home from a search and rescue training exercise with the Icelandic Coast Guard and local Search and Rescue teams. The training lasted from Feb. 9 to 12.
“This exercise has allowed the Icelandic Coast Guard and ICE-SAR to share with our Canadian partners our methods and experiences in overcoming the most challenging environment; the Arctic. We have greatly benefited from this joint exercise and have in our Canadian neighbours a strong partner in executing Arctic search and rescue. This training truly demonstrates the tenant of cooperation essential to our profession. We might be separated by thousands of kilometres but we are joined in our desire to save lives,” said Commander Senior Grade, Audunn Kristinsson, Deputy Chief of Operations, Icelandic Coast Guard.
The RCAF personnel, along with a CH-149 Cormorant helicopter, conducted multiple open water and boat scenarios with the Icelandic Coast Guard vessel, Thor. Some of the exercises included hoisting from a ship, hoisting from a life raft and hoisting from the sea. They also conducted inland and glacier search and rescue joint exercises with volunteers from the Icelandic Association for Search and Rescue (ICE-SAR).
“The Canadian Armed Forces is equipped with a great fleet of CH-149 helicopters and a highly trained group of airmen and airwomen. The RCAF SAR force is something Canadians take pride in. Working alongside other Arctic countries active in SAR reminds us that we might wear different uniforms, but we are all driven by the same motto ‘that others may live.’ This invaluable training and partnership ensures we are better integrated if we were called upon to cooperate in the future,” said Lieutenant-General Michael Hood, Commander, Royal Canadian Air Force.
The nine RCAF members were stationed at the Icelandic Coast Guard’s base at Reykjavik airport. Training activities took place across the territory including various Coast Guard locations and facilities as well as a NATO air station at Keflavik.
“We are proud of the men and women who serve fearlessly to make Canada a world a leader in Arctic search and rescue. The North Atlantic is a very challenging search and rescue environment which makes it crucial to deepen our relationships with partners like Iceland in this region. This collaboration augments our interoperability which strengthens our existing alliance,” stated Brigadier-General David Lowthian, Deputy Commander, Force Generation, 1 Canadian Air Division.