Esquimalt-based HMCS Regina has concluded a security and counter-terrorism mission in Middle Eastern and East African waters, having seized over 9 tonnes of illegal narcotics in just over a month.
The vessel left CFB Esquimalt in February with the Asterix — a replenishing ship filled with fuel and supplies — and a Cyclone helicopter from the maritime helicopter squadron task force.
HMCS Regina was involved in the Canadian Armed Forces’ ongoing contribution to counter-terrorism and maritime security operations in Middle Eastern and East African waters, also known as Operation ARTEMIS.
The warship was operating in the region as part of Combined Task Force 150 (CTF 150), a task force under the Combined Maritime Forces, which is a naval coalition of 33 nations.
As part of CTF 150, assets worked with several other coalition ships to patrol the waters of the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Indian Ocean and Gulf of Oman while a CP-140 Aurora aircraft conducted maritime surveillance.
The efforts are in support of CTF 150’s mandate to deter and deny terrorist organizations any benefits from using the high seas for smuggling illicit cargo including narcotics, UN-embargoed weapons, and Somalian charcoal.
Profits from illicit trafficking in the region are a known source of funding for terrorist and criminal networks, which represents a common treat to the security and prosperity of the region, according to the Department of National Defence.
“I’m extremely proud of the hard work and professionalism demonstrated by all Canadian Armed Forces units and members working together in the region during Operation ARTEMIS,” said Cmdr. Jacob French, commanding officer of HMCS Regina and Operation ARTEMIS task force commander. “As a team, we contributed to maritime security in the region by disrupting the use of the high seas as a passageway for illegal activities, while supporting the free-flow of international trade and commerce in some of the world’s busiest waterways. That’s $4.7 million dollars that will not be making it into the hands of those wanting to do harm around the world.”
In about one month’s time, HMCS Regina made four drug busts.
On May 3, the ship seized over two tonnes of hashish in the Northern Arabian Sea. On April 18, the ship seized 1.5 tonnes of hashish and 10.5 kilograms of heroin while deployed in the Indian Ocean. On April 15, the ship seized over three tonnes of hashish and on April 6 it seized more than 2.5 tonnes of hashish. Both of those seizures took place off the coast of Oman.
HMCS Regina, its embarked Cyclone helicopter and the Asterix will now resume operation PROJECTION, working with partner navies and conducting key leader engagements to enhance military cooperation and partnerships in support of Canada’s diplomatic efforts in the Asia-Pacific region.
The ship will return to Esquimalt in August, concluding a six-month deployment.