Naval Security Team stands guard on the East Coast

Photos: Chief Petty Officer Second Class Jean MaCusiselin, Cox’n

Lt(N)/ Robert Newton, 
Executive Officer, Naval Security Team

The Naval Security Team (NST) deployed to Halifax, N.S., from Oct. 22 to Nov. 4 to provide waterborne Force Protection for the US Nuclear Aircraft Carrier USS Gerald R. Ford and NATO Allies from Germany, Denmark, Spain and the Netherlands.

NST deployed four Defender-class small boats to Halifax with 42 personnel to provide the vessel escort upon arrival and departure and around-the-clock on-water security for the duration of the visit to Halifax.

NST primarily comprises Naval Reservists specializing in Harbour Defence and Force Protection roles. However, this deployment saw the integration of 26 brand-new Regular Force members that were awaiting training here in Esquimalt. These new members conducted six weeks of pre-deployment training, after which they obtained the basic NST qualification of Weapons Operator. On completion of pre-deployment training, NST deployed to Halifax to conduct in-area training five days before the arrival of the visiting ships. This training included the establishment of a Controlled Access Zone (CAZ), vessel interception, and Use-of-Force training.

Many logistical requirements were needed to carry out the Operation successfully, and it was no easy task. Pre-deployment training with brand new sailors, shipping four boats, equipment, and personnel across Canada, and setting up an Operations Center with accommodations for 42 personnel in Halifax was just the beginning. With the support of Joint Task Force (Atlantic) (JTF(A)), CFB Halifax, Maritime Forces Atlantic (MARLANT) Public Affairs, and the hospitality of Naval Reserve Division HMCS Scotian, we were able to complete our mission successfully.

As a busy port city, Halifax is called upon by some of the world’s largest shipping lines to connect Canada to more than 150 countries. It is also home to the East Coast fleet (MARLANT) and numerous cruise lines that bring tourists worldwide. That said, during these five days, space had to be made to park the Aircraft Carrier. It is anchored within the harbour between Georges Is and McNabs Is, directly adjacent to the busy traffic lanes of the harbour. Due to the size constraints, this was a unique challenge that required members to employ their skills quickly and effectively within an extraordinarily smaller CAZ than what would be typical.

The high volume of large commercial traffic presented a particular challenge for NST personnel. The crews needed to mitigate and manage possible encroachments onto the large tanker and container vessels to the CAZ. The area was bustling due to the unseasonably warm weather. As the world’s newest Aircraft Carrier anchored in the harbour, our boat crews kept the site secure since many small watercrafts filled with on-lookers hoped to get a closer look at the ships. The crews could maintain commercial shipping activity at the Port of Halifax without incident through navigational course changes and vessel escorts. Overall, this was a successful learning experience for both NST and the civilian ships.

After four days of receptions, meetings, volunteer opportunities for visiting sailors alongside our shore, and showing our friends the hospitality the East Coast is so famous for, it was time for them to head back to sea. NST escorted USS Gerald R. Ford back into the Atlantic to continue their mission and offer it fair winds and following seas until the next time.

The Naval Security Team is proud to answer the call in support of the Royal Canadian Navy, Canadian Armed Forces and Canada wherever and whenever needed.

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