HMCS Calgary: the Pacific Fleet workhorse

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HMCS Calgary sails through B.C. coastal waters. The ship had one of the busiest years in recent history.

It has been an eventful and active year for HMCS Calgary, with the modernized warship spending more than 250 days away from its home port, all in support of Halifax Class Modernization (HCM) trials, and the core roles and missions of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN). 

“For us, it has felt like nine months of deploying, without deploying,” says Cdr John Wilson, Calgary’s Commanding Officer.  “We did have the short Caribbe deployment but, given the year we just had, it just felt like another task for the ship’s company.”

Commencing with operations team training in Halifax in the beginning of the year, the ship’s company spent the following nine months on variety of taskings that have provided well-rounded training opportunities for the sailors, while giving them the opportunity to explore a number of foreign ports.

Immediately following a full set of workups in the spring, Calgary provided support to the fleet navigating officer’s course by conducting navigation training in the Gulf Islands.  At the same time, the ship hosted the Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia, The Honourable Judith Guichon, during her visit to coastal communities.

Next, the combat team made their way to Halifax in preparation for their missile readiness inspection trials, the first for HCM ships.  

Following a short work period alongside Esquimalt, Calgary sailed on an action-packed two-month deployment that included exercising in a multi-ship and multinational environment during a task group transit, and Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2014.  

Port visits to San Diego and Pearl Harbor, where the ship hosted a noteworthy Canada Day reception, were included in the activities. It also allowed an opportunity for Vice-Admiral Mark Norman, Commander of the RCN, to visit Calgary’s sailors and field pertinent questions about the navy.

Before returning to Esquimalt Harbour, Calgary tested its missile readiness in the Hawaiian area of operations, firing numerous missiles and testing the overall upgrades to the systems.

After a month alongside home port, the warship once again set sail for another two months; this time towards the Southern California operating areas and another fast-paced round of exercises, trials, and operations. 

Immediately following a week-long missile readiness trial, where the ship’s modernized sensors were tested, Calgary deployed on Operation Caribbe, Canada’s participation in the multinational campaign against illicit trafficking by transnational organized crime in the Caribbean basin and the eastern Pacific Ocean.

Although it was a relatively short deployment, Calgary aided in the seizure of 1,200 pounds of marijuana, contributing to the safety and security of the region. Calgary’s success is a clear demonstration of the navy’s ability to operate seamlessly with the U.S. Coast Guard and its embarked legal detachment team.

Once her Caribbe deployment came to an end, Calgary participated in the week-long Fleet Week event in San Francisco, representing the RCN on the international stage.  In cooperation with the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development, the ship hosted a full reception, once again demonstrating Canadian hospitality.

Next on the ship’s schedule were 20 days of task group exercises with multi-national warships, with the Commander Canadian Fleet Pacific, Commodore Bob Auchterlonie, and his staff embarked.

This provided yet another valuable experience for the sailors as they were able to work alongside and observe the Fleet staff as they commanded the Naval Task Group.  Following a short port visit to San Diego, Calgary proceeded northbound toward Esquimalt Harbour and its next task.

Following a short five-day stay in its home port, Calgary sailed out to support HMCS Chicoutimi during the submarine’s deep dive operations, which were part of the planned contractor sea trials to bring the submarine out of its Extended Docking Work Period.

This was no simple task as it involved embarking specialized equipment and personnel, including medical experts, medical life-saving kits, a hyperbaric chamber and the people needed to operate it. 

The month of November also included supporting Other Government Departments at sea, as well as another welcomed visit from The Honourable Judith Guichon.

More recently it was a delight for the sailors to watch their namesake city win the Grey Cup in Vancouver. The messes hosted events and Calgary Stampeders jerseys were seen throughout the ship.

Overall, the year was very beneficial to the sailors as they gained the experience necessary to face any tasking that may be assigned to them in the coming year.  With the year coming to an end, the ship’s busy sailing schedule is as well.

Calgary’s sailors now have an opportunity to spend some well-deserved time with their families and friends during the holidays, making up for missed birthdays, holidays and anniversaries.  

Commander Wilson and the officers and crew of HMCS Calgary extend their holiday wishes to the friends and family members of sailors who are currently operationally deployed and will not be home during this holiday season.


SLt Ellie Aminaie, HMCS Calgary

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