Author Topic: MCDVs set sail for NATO Exercises.  (Read 1990 times)

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MCDVs set sail for NATO Exercises.
« on: September 02, 2009, 09:03:01 »
On average every four years since the late 1990s the MCDVs have sailed across to participate in Exercise BLUE GAME. As the article mentions, this is the first time the ships will be sailing as part of the group.

from the Halifax Chronicle Herald

Minesweepers head out for NATO exercises

By IAN FAIRCLOUGH Staff Reporter
Wed. Sep 2 - 4:45 AM

Two Canadian navy minesweepers sailed out of Halifax Harbour Tuesday with six NATO ships for several weeks of joint exercises.

The six other ships make up one of NATO’s two standing mine countermeasure groups that operate continuously to respond to any situation anywhere.

This is the first time in 11 years the group has been on this side of the Atlantic because there is so much work to be done around Europe.

Cmdr. Henrik Holck Rasmussen of the Royal Danish Navy commands the group, and said there are an estimated 500,000 Second World War mines sitting on the bottom of the ocean around the coast of Europe, in the Baltic and the North Sea, particularly in the English Channel. That means there is plenty of work to do.

"It’s going to take a long time," he said. The mines and ditched aircraft bombs still pose a threat, even though they have sunk to the bottom of the ocean.

Cmdr. Rasmussen said that a Dutch fishing boat hauled in its catch on a dark night in 2005 and dropped what felt like a good haul of fish onto the deck. The catch was actually an old mine that exploded on impact, killing the three crew members.

He said the group has removed 22,000 kilograms of ordinance from the sea floor this year, including 43 mines and bombs.

Coming to this side of the Atlantic lets the group, made up of ships from Denmark, Estonia, Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, work in different waters and test their ability to travel long distances. Because the minesweepers are smaller naval vessels, they need to be resupplied more often during long ocean voyages.

Cmdr. Chris Ross, who is responsible for the six Canadian minesweepers on the Atlantic coast, said this is the first time Canadian ships have formally joined the group, although they have worked with it before.

"This is the first time we’ve been able to fly the NATO flag on these ships and display the NATO crest on our bridge wings, and we’re very proud to have that opportunity," he said on the HMCS Shawinigan, which joins the HMCS Goosebay in the exercise.

He said the exercises will expose Canadian sailors to their NATO allies’ practices and procedures and refine their own mine warfare skills and expertise.

After a week of exercises in Canadian waters, the ships will head to New York for a 2 1/2-week exercise along the eastern seaboard.

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