Ottawa heads south on Op Caribbe

HMCS Ottawa

HMCS Ottawa left June 10 for Operation Caribbe, Canada’s recurring contribution to a multinational campaign against transnational organized crime in the Americas and the Caribbean.

The crew of HMCS Ottawa has made a heading for warmer waters as part of their deployment to the eastern Pacific on Operation Caribbe – Canada’s recurring contribution to a multinational campaign against transnational organized crime in the Americas and the Caribbean.
The crew pushed off June 10 to participate in the Royal Canadian Navy’s component of Operation Caribbe.

Op Caribbe is the Canadian Joint Operations Command mission that supports multinational efforts led by the Joint Interagency Task Force South (JIATF South).

JIATF South’s overarching operation, named Op Martillo, brings Canada and other western hemisphere and European nations together in the Caribbean Basin, eastern Pacific and littoral waters of Central America.

JIATF South is responsible for the detection and monitoring of suspect air and maritime illicit trafficking activities in the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and the Eastern Pacific. JIATF South also collects, processes, and disseminates information to assist interagency and partner nation operations. 

CPO1 Michael Miller, Coxswain in Ottawa, says preparing the new command team and crew for the deployment has been a successful and exciting time.

“We’ve been getting everyone in line for the deployment,” says CPO1 Miller. “Preparations were conducted at a steady pace, and every effort was made to ensure our team had the pre-deployment leave required to set themselves and their families up for success during the mission.”

Most of Ottawa’s deployment will be spent under the sizzling South American sun, and the crew has had to take the unfamiliar environment into account.

“Working in a tropical climate comes with new challenges, primarily the requirement for more frequent hydration, as well as protection from the sun,” says CPO1 Miller. “Ottawa has excellent fresh water capabilities, and bulk dispensers to keep it cold and available. In an environment like the eastern Pacific it’s of the utmost importance to keep the crew hydrated and healthy.”

The Ottawa crew is excited to pick up where they left off last year. Criminal organizations use the Caribbean Basin, Central America, and the eastern Pacific as a transhipment area for trafficking drugs, weapons, money, and people.

Illicit trafficking is a significant source of revenue for organized crime, which is a growing threat to North American, Canadian, and international security and stability.

During Ottawa’s last deployment on Op Caribbe in November 2012, while patrolling international waters off the coast of Costa Rica, the crew assisted a United States Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment team to board a suspicious fishing vessel. The boarding, a successful example of interagency cooperation, resulted in the seizure of 36 bales of cocaine weighing 1,086 kilograms.

“The crew is ready for the work ahead of them. This is what we’re trained to do,” he says. “Of course, people will miss their homes and families, but the entire crew embraces the opportunity to do what we do best.”

-Shawn O’Hara, Staff Writer

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