Coastal operations planning in action at Naval Fleet School (Quebec)


Sub-Lieutenant (SLt) Cody Robertson (centre) discusses risk mitigation measures for an ORCA sail with Lieutenant (Navy) Titus Villegas (far left).

LCdr James Cantafio, 

Naval Fleet School Quebec (NFS(Q)) conducted the latest Coastal Operations Planning (COPS) course on Sept. 19-29, with a focus on effectively applying the Operational Planning Process (OPP) in the naval environment.


COPS is essential for naval officers to conduct and support coastal operations and to plan effectively. It is part of the Naval Training Division (NTD) mandate to deliver operationally-focused and performance-based training. This recent session focused on the first of three courses.


COPS I applies the effective use of the OPP at the tactical or unit level for mission planning. Although OPP is often used at the strategic and operational level, it is a standard military tool that can be adapted to plan unit-level domestic exercises such as Diving Exercises (DIVEX) and ORCA-class vessel exercises or in response to Operation Lentus.

Lieutenant (Navy) Titus Villegas, Course Director and Chief Instructor for COPS, said having COPS I provides potential for future Class A or B Reserve Service employment as a notable bonus.

“COPS I exposes candidates to the operational side of our business and the risks we mitigate in order to conduct our operations,” he said.

Lt(N) Villegas, a seasoned Reservist Naval Warfare Officer (NWO), said the COPS programme prepares candidates to perform their local function in Training or Operations Officer positions at their respective units.

“The course also introduces the candidates to the resources and professional expertise within the Naval Reserve and at NFS(Q), who are more than happy to help them in their exercise planning,” he said.

Depending on the time of the year and availability, the number of candidates on COPS I can be about seven students. Such small courses afford the student access to dedicated staff and interactive engagement that augments the quality of the learning experience.


COPS II and III provide more advanced and tailored training for NWOs who are projected to become Operations Officers onboard Kingston-class naval war vessels, also known as Maritime Coastal Defense Vessels (MCDV).

During COPS II, students examine the technical sensor suites of an MCDV to learn how such equipment can support naval operations. In COPS III, candidates plan and execute missions that would take place on MCDVs, such as drug interdiction, mine countermeasure, and search and rescue.

While the COPS program is attractive to NWOs, the skillset offered in COPS I will also benefit those involved in planning exercises in Naval Reserve Divisions. Thus, COPS I has since been opened to other officer occupations.


Candidates must reach Occupational Function Point (OFP) and hold a Lieutenant (Navy) rank to be eligible for COPS I. Sometimes, OFP Sub-Lieutenants could be eligible based on prior operational experience and requirements.

The next COPS I session will be in April 2023 at NFS(Q).

For more information on the COPS program, members are requested to first reach out to their Unit Training Officer or contact Lt(N) Villegas at:

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