HMCS Edmonton returns after successful Operation Caribbe deployment

LCdr Tyler Smith, Commanding Officer, HMCS Edmonton

LCdr Tyler Smith, Commanding Officer, HMCS Edmonton

Captain Chelsea Dubeau, MARPAC PAO — After nearly three months at sea, the crew of His Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Edmonton received a warm welcome home from friends and family following their arrival in Esquimalt on Friday, April 28.

The ship was deployed on Operation Caribbe, Canada’s contribution to U.S.-led Enhanced Counter-narcotics Operations in the Eastern Pacific. Since its departure from Esquimalt on Feb. 13, the ship and crew visited several ports along the coast of North and Central America, conducted patrols, and worked alongside partner nations.

There were several highlights along the way, but the most impactful came as HMCS Edmonton was nearing the end of its deployment: the successful interception of a suspicious vessel that resulted in the interdiction of 755 kilograms of cocaine (worth an estimated street value of $49.5 million CAD).

At the time of the interdiction, HMCS Edmonton had been operating as part of a Surface Action Group (SAG) alongside two U.S. Coast Guard Cutters (USCGC) Active and Benjamin Bottoms, and an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter, embarked on USCGC Active.

“It was like watching an action movie up close,” said Sailor Third Class (S3) Vincent Tan, a Naval Combat Information Operator (NCIOP) on board HMCS Edmonton, who helped track the vessel from the Operations Room. “I also acted as lookout for any bales of contraband in the water using the big eyes and binoculars.”

One of the best parts of a Navy deployment – outside of contributing to maritime security – is the travel. Fortunately, this deployment delivered both. 

“I could never take a family vacation growing up or travel much until I was in my 20s,” said Sailor First Class (S1) Eaden Bowler, a boatswain on board HMCS Edmonton. “So, travelling and seeing new parts of the world for my job is a great reward. And disrupting the flow of drugs coming in is why I really wanted to come on this deployment.”

“The crew is just full of very smart, very capable professionals,” said Lieutenant-Commander (LCdr) Tyler Smith, Commanding Officer of HMCS Edmonton. “They understand not only their task and their role, but they’re very much in tune with the strategic objectives of everything we’re doing.”

One of those capable professionals is S1 Jerome Dizon, a Naval Communicator on board HMCS Edmonton. For S1 Dizon, a career in the Navy was something to which he’d always aspired.

“I believe this is a unique career path,” he said. “You get to know different types of people within your ship, get to see different ports as a military member, and get to participate in exercises and training opportunities with other units.”

Deployments do more than accomplish critical mission goals, they also test the skills of all sailors on board the ship and provide daily opportunities for improvement.

“I am a lucky NCIOP to be part of Operation Caribbe  2023,” said S3 Tan. “Working in the Operations Room during [the] deployment enhanced my knowledge and skills as an NCIOP [so that I could] truly be the eyes and ears of the ship.”

For S1 Dizon, the deployment was also an opportunity to get out of his comfort zone.

“I am most proud of pushing myself into taking more responsibilities within my department,” he said.

This is no surprise to LCdr Smith.

“People that join the Royal Canadian Navy bring diverse experiences,” he says, “but they all share this exceptional professionalism, this drive to succeed and to serve Canada. They share that common bond of a sailor.”

Reflecting on his time as Commanding Officer of HMCS Edmonton, LCdr Smith is proud; not only of what they’ve accomplished, but proud of the crew. 

“They’re always focused and happy to be serving Canada,” LCdr Smith said. “Being captain of the ship has been an easy job because of them.”

“You know, as a Navy, we’re always looking to generate sailors, create experience, improve expertise,” LCdr Smith continued. “So, one line of effort is getting sailors down here under an operational command. Now we’re going home with a ship full of experienced sailors who have stories to tell and can pass on their skills to others. Second, we really demonstrated commitment to our partners in North America and Central America, commitment to our collective security and the prosperity of everybody involved. So that’s a huge win.”

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