Warships complete Task Group Exercise

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Ships from the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force, Royal Canadian Navy and U.S. Navy sail in formation during a Task Group Exercise off the coast of Southern California.

Last Friday, warships from Canada, the United States and Japan wrapped up the last day of 12 days training in the final task group exercise (TGEX) of the year.

Representing Canada were HMC Ships Calgary, Winnipeg, Brandon, and Yellowknife, supported by two CH-124 Sea King helicopters from 443 Maritime Helicopter Squadron.

The aim of task group exercises is to enhance combat readiness while improving interoperability and tactical excellence. This specific TGEX focused on interoperability between the Royal Canadian Navy, United States Navy, and the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force, and was hosted by the United States Navy’s 3rd Fleet. 

LCdr Jacob French, Calgary’s Executive Officer, said multi-navy work is the real strength of the exercise, as it gives sailors a look at how multinational situations might play out.

“It always adds a dash of realism to any exercise, knowing that should there be an actual crisis requiring the cooperation of multiple navies, we would be able to operate in a coalition and joint environment,” he says. “The important thing is to adapt to the circumstances and work on ways of becoming more interoperable – something that navies have been doing for some time now.”

This multinational interoperability, and the seamanship and communications skills that go along with it, are a vital part of naval experience, says LCdr French, adding the experiences gained during TGEX are skills that will stay with sailors the rest of their careers.

“The collective training in the task group setting, and the individual training of each sailor are all important building blocks in maintaining the readiness of our fleet, and of our sailors,” he says. “There really is no substitute for quality sea time.”

Calgary’s crew had some extra work serving as flagship for Cmdre Bob Auchterlonie, Commander of Canadian Fleet Pacific. He directed RCN personnel during the exercise. Embarking Cmdre Auchterlonie and his fleet staff required extra planning, but LCdr French says the role meant good things for the ship.

“It puts Calgary in new territory to be a flagship, and it’s great to see our modernized ship and its ability to accommodate task group staff in action,” he says.

On completion of TGEX, Yellowknife and Brandon will join Operation Caribbe, Canada’s contribution to Operation Martillo, a U.S. Joint Interagency Task Force South-led interagency and multinational effort among Western Hemisphere and European nations, designed to improve regional security and deter criminal activity. As part of Operation Caribbe, the Canadian Armed Forces support multinational efforts to address illicit trafficking by providing naval and air capabilities to detect and monitor suspect activities on the water off the Caribbean and Pacific coasts of Central America. 


Shawn O’Hara, Staff Writer

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