Flagship torch passed from HMCS Winnipeg to HMCS Calgary

HMCS Winnipeg sails in formation with the Japanese Navy’s JS Izumo and Sazanami during a Passage Exercise in the South China Sea, which included ships from the United States, Canada, Japan and Australia. Photo by LSIS Bradley Darvill

HMCS Winnipeg sails in formation with the Japanese Navy’s JS Izumo and Sazanami during a Passage Exercise in the South China Sea, which included ships from the United States, Canada, Japan and Australia. Photo by LSIS Bradley Darvill

Lt(N) Ellie Aminaie, HMCS Winnipeg ~

After nearly a year as the Flagship of the West Coast Fleet, HMCS Winnipeg handed over the reins to HMCS Calgary Feb. 2, in order to undergo an extended maintenance and upgrade period. During its tenure as Flagship, Winnipeg was involved in many high tempo operations.

Starting March 2017
Upon completion of Sea Training-led Intermediate Air Ship Readiness Training in March 2017, Winnipeg deployed in company with HMCS Ottawa for Poseidon Cutlass 17-1 in the Indo-Asia Pacific region. The two ships conducted an array of operations with regional foreign navies.

These multi-national operations, which had the Commander Canadian Fleet Pacific and his staff embarked in Winnipeg for portions of the deployment, included exercises with the Australian, Indian, Sri Lankan, Japanese, South Korean, New Zealand and United States Navies.

During the deployment, Winnipeg had the Maritime Tactical Operations Group embarked, showcasing this advanced capability of the Royal Canadian Navy to our allied navies. Multiple port visits allowed the the ship’s company to represent Canada at global engagement events in the Philippines, Malaysia, India, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Japan and South Korea. Most notably, the port visit in Malaysia included a high profile global engagement component in support of the Minister of National Defence.

Another notable milestone for this deployment was the proof of concept of the Naval Security Team that consisted of Reserve Force personnel providing enhanced Force Protection to deployed ships while alongside Busan, Korea.

Winnipeg’s return transit to Esquimalt after five month abroad included a Replenishment at Sea Force Generation tasking in company with Ottawa and the Chilean Tanker Almirante Montt, where the Deck department was trained in operations with the tanker, conducting 22 seamanship evolutions within the span of two weeks.

September 2017
This high readiness ship was put to sea shortly after returning from Poseidon Cutlass 17-1 in September 2017 to support the training of an East Coast Air Detachment.

In October, Winnipeg embarked members of the Canadian Leaders at Sea programme for a three-day transit to San Francisco for that city’s Fleet Week.

The sail facilitated numerous training opportunities, including a stellar ship-wide damage control demonstration for the civilian guests onboard.
Once alongside in San Francisco, the ship hosted over 200 high profile military and industry guests onboard at a reception co-hosted by the Commander Maritime Forces Pacific and Consular General of Canada in San Francisco.

Additionally, nearly 4,000 civilians came onboard for a tour of the ship, and the ship’s company participated in many activities ashore, including a significant amount of charitable work.

October 2017
Winnipeg sailed for the remainder of October in the vicinity of Nanoose Bay, advancing the operational testing and evaluation of Anti-Submarine tactics in the Royal Canadian Navy during Optest Stargazer.

November 2017
The ship was back at sea in November in the West Coast Firing Area, where the Above Water Warfare team honed their skills against unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). The crew demonstrated particular skill in employing Winnipeg’s RAMSES against the UAVs. The ship also had the honour of being the platform for the ceremony of Committal of Ashes at sea for 13 National Defence members.

Winnipeg’s programme in November also included representing the Royal Canadian Navy at the United Nations Peacekeeping Defence Ministers’ Conference. While alongside Canada Place in Vancouver, Winnipeg provided a hosting platform for various events throughout the conference, as well as comprehensive tours of the ship to UN delegates.

The conference had many high profile Canadians in attendance including The Prime Minister, the Minister of National Defence, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of International Development and la francophonie and the Chief of Defence Staff.

Actress Angelina Jolie, who is a Special Envoy to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, was also in attendance.

Shortly after returning to home port, Winnipeg was back at sea in support of the Fleet Navigating Officer course, qualifying four new Navigators to the fleet. Having spent most of the year in international waters, the crew relished the chance to transit the picturesque Southern Gulf Islands at high speeds, and enjoyed the scenery in Desolation Sound’s rugged Teakerne Arm.

December 2017
The 2017’s sailing programme for Winnipeg concluded in December with another week at sea in support of the Shipborne Air Controller (SAC) course, qualifying four SACs to the fleet. However, the Flagship’s duties did not end there as Winnipeg was the West Coast Fleet’s designated Ready Duty Ship throughout the holiday season, with the crew fully prepared to respond to any tasking domestically and abroad.

January 2018
Before handing over the reins of the Flagship of the West Coast Fleet, Winnipeg had one last tasking in January 2018, once again in cooperation with 443 MH Squadron, with the aim of qualifying Maritime Forces Pacific and Maritime Forces Atlantic personnel in Ship Without Airborne Detachment operations, and air crew qualifications.

Winnipeg undoubtedly had a very busy programme over the course of the past year, sailing over 38,600 nautical miles, with 215 days away from home. Ship and crew were instrumental in the training and development of hundreds of Canadian Armed Forces personnel in various areas of qualification, ranging from multiple echelons of warfare to logistics. It is not without the support of various key players ashore that Winnipeg was able to achieve mission success at home and abroad as the Flagship of the West Coast Fleet.

HMCS Calgary is wished all the best as that ship and crew takes on this new challenging role.

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