Keeping watch over Canada’s coast

Coastal defence training exercise brings together Canadian, U.S. forces

HMCS Nanaimo conducts hoist training with a Canadian Forces Sea King helicopter off the coast of Vancouver Island during a coastal defence exercise in this undated file photo. Exercise Pacific Guardian scenarios begin Monday (Feb. 6).

Drug and immigrant smugglers, polluters, illegal fishers, loggers or other criminals will be on the minds of crew members aboard three Royal Canadian Navy coastal defence vessels.

The ships, stationed at CFB Esquimalt and manned primarily by about 45 naval reservists from across Canada, will see their skills tested during an annual joint coastal defence exercise, called Pacific Guardian.

HMCS Nanaimo, Brandon and Saskatoon will work alongside other naval reserve units, CFB Comox personnel and a U.S. Coast Guard vessel and helicopter off the west coast of the Island. The scenarios begin Monday (Feb. 6) and continue until Feb. 18.

“Co-ordinating and working alongside various federal departments and our U.S. allies is instrumental to ensuring our coastal defence,” navy Capt. Luc Cassivi, operations officer with Maritime Forces Pacific at CFB Esquimalt, said in a news release.

Canada’s fleet of 12 maritime coastal defence vessels are responsible for coastal surveillance and patrol, mapping of the seabed and detecting and removing sea mines.

The ships often work in tandem with the RCMP, Fisheries and Oceans Canada vessels and the Canadian Coast Guard.

emccracken@vicnews.com