Fiji deployment enhances port security

Fiji deployment enhances port security

Peter Mallett, Staff Writer ~

The year-old Naval Security Team has taken another step towards providing improved port protection to Royal Canadian Navy vessels after a successful deployment to Fiji.

Ten members of the Naval Security Team and two personnel from the Maritime Tactical Operations Group travelled to the South Pacific Nation’s capital city of Suva Aug. 11 to 20 to train alongside 12 personnel from the Republic of Fiji Navy.

Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Commander Jeff Chura says although his unit is still “growing and refining,” he has been impressed with its initial efforts to enhance understanding and cooperation with partner navies through global engagements and bi-lateral training exercises.

“The biggest takeaway from the deployment to Fiji was that it gave our personnel a better understanding and perspective of how other militaries do business, how to interact with other navies, and how they would approach situations,” he said. “They are normally stationed domestically or in continental North America, so expeditionary overseas operations gives them the international experience naval reservists need.”

Canadian and Fijian sailors focussed on the safety and security of vessels approaching a berth, alongside and departing, while learning the dynamics of setting up force protection (secured) zones in both military and non-military harbours.

The deployment was part of the Royal Canadian Navy’s (RCN) Poseidon Cutlass, a series of training exercises with regional partner navies at sea. The Naval Security Team completed a deployment to Busan, South Korea, in June, also part of Poseidon Cutlass.

Since the RCN’s visit occurred just ahead of Fiji’s integration of women into their military next year, there were discussions with LCdr Chura and his team about gender equity in Canada’s military.

Their hosts had a strong interest in visiting Canada to interview Canadian female personnel about their experiences in the military and to see them perform in a working environment.

“They wanted to know what to do and what to avoid, and the challenges that integration could pose,” he said.

Fiji’s military personnel were encouraged to learn the Naval Security Team had four women in its ranks including Executive Officer Lt(N) Barbara VanAkker.

On the final day of their deployment members of both navies embarked to a private government island for a cultural exchange in the form of a traditional Lovo Feast, similar to a Hawaiian Luau. Their final afternoon was spent discovering Fijian culture on a scenic powder sand beach with traditional food, song, dance, and a chance to play beach ball and snorkel.

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