HMCS Vancouver conducts MISSILEX

HMCS Vancouver fires an Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile during a missile exercise while the ship participates in RIMPAC. In the background is Her Majesty’s Australian Ship (HMAS) Toowoomba. Photo by Lt(N) Tony Wright

HMCS Vancouver fires an Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile during a missile exercise while the ship participates in RIMPAC. In the background is Her Majesty’s Australian Ship (HMAS) Toowoomba. Photo by Lt(N) Tony Wright

Lt(N) Tony Wright and Lt(N) Clayton Erickson ~

After completing Op Projection Asia-Pacific 18-01, which saw the ship patrol and conduct strategic outreach throughout the Western Pacific, HMCS Vancouver began the 2018 Rim of the Pacific exercise (RIMPAC) by conducting a missile firing exercise (MISSILEX), successfully launching two Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles (ESSM).

This MISSILEX served several important functions.  The event was both a test of the Royal Canadian Navy’s (RCN) tactics and procedures as well as a key opportunity to further technical and engineering knowledge. Staff from the Canadian Forces Maritime Warfare Centre (CFMWC), Naval Engineering Testing Establishment, and Fleet Maintenance Facility Cape Breton were on board to see how the ship’s systems behave in a realistic, operational scenario and collect detailed information on the ship’s radars, weapon systems, and command and control systems.

It isn’t very often that the RCN gets a chance to do firings like this, so making the most of the opportunity to benefit force development and force generation by involving a wide range of personnel is important.

The ship’s company began preparing for this exercise well before deploying on Op PROJECTION Asia-Pacific in April. During the ship’s Pacific voyage, staff from CFMWC, and Naval Fleet Schools Pacific and Atlantic joined Vancouver to conduct Missile Readiness Inspection (MRI) training for the Operations Department.

This training phase ensured that Vancouver was ready to conduct the firings safely and in accordance with doctrine and procedures. MRI staff also inspected the ship’s technical readiness to ensure that Vancouver was materially able to support the test and research objectives.

During MRI training, the Operations Department practiced fighting through many types of equipment deficiencies and safety issues, such as an out of control target drone, to confirm that every member of the team knew their duties and responsibilities, including how Vancouver would collect the wide variety of technical data.

The red letter day was July 16th, and Vancouver conducted two firing runs.  For the first run, Vancouver worked with two other RIMPAC ships.

Target drones were launched and approached the task group. As the targets approached, the three ships tracked and identified the threats. Each ship, in turn, engaged their assigned target, with Vancouver firing a single missile.

This scenario provided a coordination challenge that tested all three ship’s abilities to work together in defending each other.

For the second run, Vancouver fired a second missile as part of a complicated tactical scenario which required the team to simulate degraded equipment.

The missiles fired were telemetric – designed to gather valuable data on performance. In each case, the warheads were disabled and there was no intent to destroy the target drones so that they could be re-used for other events.

“Missiles and sensors may be the Operations Department’s part-ship, but this MISSILEX was a whole ship evolution,” said Vancouver’s Commanding Officer, Commander Christopher Nucci. “I am very proud of the entire crew for the dedication and focus that they put into this successful missile shoot. What at first glance appears to be an event lasting ten seconds, in reality, represents a steady effort over the past ten months.”

With other trials and the MISSILEX complete Vancouver rejoined its RIMPAC Task Group for Force Integration Training with partner nations.

RIMPAC 2018 will end with a Photo Exercise and free-play phase lasting several days before Vancouver returns home to Esquimalt in early August.

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