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Op ARTEMIS: Counter-terr/secur @ sea (merged)


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Posted from a Montreal Gazette article.... note the date (29 Feb)... the ships coy of CAL were briefed on the plan Two days ago (04 Mar). <shakes head>

Canada pledges three more ships to 'war on terror'
Rob Shaw , Canwest News Service
Published: Friday, February 29

VICTORIA - The Canadian navy is deploying three warships to the Persian Gulf, one of its largest naval contributions to the war against terrorism since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

About 850 sailors, soldiers and air force personnel will sail from June to September with an international coalition of ships from the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Pakistan and the Netherlands, the navy announced Friday. The group mainly conducts security patrols and searches suspicious ships.

A large portion of the contingent, some 500 Canadian Forces personnel, will come from Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt, outside Victoria. HMCS Calgary, a patrol frigate, and HMCS Protecteur, a supply ship, depart from the West Coast in the next few months, sailing through the Panama Canal to meet HMCS Iroquois somewhere in the Caribbean, navy spokesman Lt. Mark MacIntyre said.

The three ships then join the international group, called Task Force 150, which will run missions in the Arabian Sea, the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. The Canadians plan to take a Sea King helicopter detachment with them.

"What's unique about this deployment is it is going to be comprised of ships from Canada's east and west coasts," MacIntyre said.

Canada will also assume command of the task force, a responsibility that is handed out on a rotating basis. Commodore Bob Davidson, commander of Canadian Fleet Atlantic, will handle command duties from on board HMCS Iroquois.

"This command demonstrates the world-class level of our nation's maritime defence capabilities," Gen. Rick Hillier, chief of defence staff, said in a news release.

It is the fourth deployment of ships for Operation ALTAIR, Canada's naval contribution to what it calls the American-led coalition against terrorism. HMCS Charlottetown, a frigate based on the East Coast, has been deployed on the mission in the Persian Gulf since November. Previously, from 2001 to 2003, Canada deployed 15 ships in the same region as part of a related operation.

EDIT: Initially I had the Subject as "West Coast ships to head out"... it then occurred to me that some may be interested in IRO going too.... j/k
Do you honestly think the Ships Coy were first told about this on the 04 Mar?  I first heard of this before Xmas, no one should have been surprised by this "public" announcement.
Dolphin_Hunter said:
Do you honestly think the Ships Coy were first told about this on the 04 Mar?  I first heard of this before Xmas, no one should have been surprised by this "public" announcement.

I agree. It became official on the 29th of Feb, those of us going all knew about it months ago. Hell, I was doing some DAG related stuff back in Jan. The Capt on IRO piped that it was official a couple hours before the press release was made.
Not the fact the ships were going.... my understanding was CAL crew didn't find out they were going via Panama until 04 Mar.
Cronicbny said:
Not the fact the ships were going.... my understanding was CAL crew didn't find out they were going via Panama until 04 Mar.

So? We don't even know what ports we're going to until a few months in advance, what difference does the routing make? I'm sure they're stoked about it, now they don't have to sail across the open expanse of the Pacific for 2 weeks in between seeing land.

I still don't see how they didn't know that, we knew back in Dec that we were meeting them in the Caribbean.
It doesn't matter when they are briefed on the specifics of how they are getting there, all they need to know is that they are going.  I am sure they are pumped about going the other way for a change.
Cronicbny said:
About 850 sailors, soldiers and air force personnel will sail from June to September with an international coalition of ships from the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Pakistan and the Netherlands, the navy announced Friday. The group mainly conducts security patrols and searches suspicious ships.

I'm always wondering where these journalists get their information. In these press-releases regarding CTF-150 I often see the Netherlands being mentioned as one of the contributors of the ships that are in CTF-150. But in fact they've only got 2 people in the Combined Forces Maritime Component Command in Bahrein. The Dutch ship went back to the Netherlands in May of 2006.

They are sending a frigate (the Evertsen) to Somalia to protect ships bringing food to Somalia under the UN World Food Program, but they are not joining CTF-150 again.

Canada is making plans to send a Halifax-based frigate to waters off the horn of Africa to stop pirates from attacking food shipments bound for Somalia.

This would involve diverting HMCS Ville de Quebec, which left Halifax last month for a five-and-a-half-month NATO mission to the Mediterranean and Black seas.

Defence Minister Peter MacKay hinted Monday there would be an announcement in Halifax Tuesday about sending a warship on a United Nations mission. But on Tuesday, his spokesman said the announcement had been postponed and the department wouldn’t provide any details.

“My links are all telling me there’s going to be an announcement that the Ville de Quebec will be taken from NATO’s standing maritime group and sent to (waters) off Somalia to escort World Food Programme relief supplies to Somalia,” said Eric Lerhe, a retired commodore who is a member of Dalhousie University’s Centre for Foreign Policy Studies.

While he was hopeful that is the case, Peter Smerdon, a spokesman for the U.N. World Food Programme, could not confirm Tuesday that the Canadian frigate will be sent to waters off Somalia.

“Any confirmation would have to come from the government concerned,” Mr. Smerdon said Tuesday in a telephone interview from Nairobi, Kenya.

“If a naval escort is provided by any country, we would of course welcome it wholeheartedly.”

Last November, France provided a frigate to escort food shipments into Somalia, he said.

“Then we had a Danish frigate, then we had a Dutch frigate, which escorted ships sailing mostly from Mombasa to Mogadishu. They escorted, I think, a total of something like 27 ships with enough food to feed a million people for six months.”

But that escort system ground to a halt in late June when the Dutch warship left, he said.

“We have been appealing ... for anyone to step forward to protect ships carrying WFP food into Somalia, especially now because in the coming months we need to double the tonnages that we bring into Somalia because the needs have gone up. Basically, we aim to feed 2.4 million people by December,” Mr. Smerdon said.

“Ninety per cent of WFP food assistance for Somalia comes in by sea and it is very, very difficult to bring in more by land or even to think of an airlift because neither of those alternatives would be able to bring in the volumes that we need.”

Last year, pirates attacked three ships chartered by the U.N. agency to carry food into Somalia, he said.

While none of the World Food Programme vessels have been taken over this year, Mr. Smerdon said shipping companies are reluctant to send large vessels into the area without protection.

An unescorted shipment of food did arrive in Mogadishu from Mombasa on Saturday, he said.

“It was a relatively small ship. We need a continuous supply line of large ships to meet the need in Somalia,” Mr. Smerdon said. “That’s why it’s vital to have escorts because if there are one or two attacks on these unescorted ships, we could well see that all ship owners say, ‘No, it’s not worth the risk. We are not willing to go.’ And then the sea lifeline to Somalia will be cut completely.”

Somali government troops and soldiers from U.S.-backed Ethiopia are battling Islamic militias. The fighting has reportedly killed about 6,500 Somali civilians since 2007, and driven hundreds of thousands of people, including half of Mogadishu’s population, from their homes.
The problem has been exacerbated by drought and skyrocketing food prices, Mr. Smerdon said.

“It is extremely worrying, particularly because of the increased violence in Somalia — kidnappings, attacks on Somali NGO workers in recent weeks, plus the violence between the various warring parties,” he said. “If we were unable to deliver sufficient food assistance in the coming months, we could see a situation similar to the 1992-1993 famine in which hundreds of thousands of people perished.”

There has been an upsurge in pirate attacks off Somali’s eastern and northern coasts, with 31 in 2007 and 24 so far this year, Mr. Smerdon said.

“This year is looking like it will be the worst year for piracy off Somalia,” he said. “The situation is deteriorating so therefore people with guns see piracy as a purely money-making activity.”

Pirates seize ships, make their crews hostages, and demand ransoms from the ship owners, Mr. Smerdon said.

“This is a huge security issue for them,” Mr. Lerhe said Tuesday. “There is no Somali navy, as has been eminently demonstrated. ... So there’s every cause for the international community to respond to both Somalia and the World Food Programme’s request for escorting.”

In April, a Sea King helicopter from the Halifax-based frigate HMCS Charlottetown took photos after pirates seized a French cruise ship off Somalia.

Ville de Quebec could use its own helicopter to frighten off pirates, Mr. Lerhe said.

“And then the ship itself has got, not only its main armament, but it’s got a boarding party that would be incredibly powerful in dealing with the pirate vessels,” he said.

Going from its mission in the Mediterranean and Black seas to the Gulf of Aden would create a “slight increase” in danger for the frigate’s 253 crew members, said Mr. Lerhe, who is also a fellow with the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute, based in Calgary.

“You’re always ready for maximum danger,” he said.

For some, the plan for Ville de Quebec is sure to raise the spectre of Canada’s ill-fated mission to Somalia a decade and a half ago.

Soldiers from the Canadian Airborne Regiment tortured and killed a youth in Somalia in 1993. The death of Shidane Arone was followed by failed attempts to cover it up.

His death and the ensuing scandal ended up before the courts and was the subject of a formal public inquiry that led to the disbanding of the regiment.

“I wouldn’t discount that, but I wouldn’t put a whole bunch of emphasis on that given that this task is so fundamentally different from the job we had to do inland,” Mr. Lerhe said.

The Ville de Quebec left Halifax July 17 to join the Standing NATO Response Force Maritime Group 1, a contingent of ships drawn from various nations including the United Kingdom, Germany, Belgium and the United States.

Link to a bit more of the latest (CF statement below CP story), shared in accordance with the "fair dealing" provisions, Section 29, of the Copyright Act.

Canadian navy to escort food ships into Somalia: MacKay
Keith Doucette, Canadian Press, 6 Aug 08

"Canada has sent a Halifax-based frigate to waters off the horn of Africa to prevent pirates from attacking food shipments bound for Somalia.

Defence Minister Peter MacKay said Wednesday that HMCS Ville de Quebec and its crew of 253 was diverted from a NATO mission in the Mediterranean.

The warship will provide escort for United Nations world food program vessels travelling into designated Somali ports, in what he described as a crucial mission.

"The population of Somalia is facing serious food shortages and the world food program has indicated that current food stocks in Somalia will be depleted by mid-August," MacKay said in a prepared statement. "It has also been stated that if these supplies are not renewed, Somalia would suffer a severe famine."

MacKay said the Canadian warship was en route and would remain part of the mission until the end of September...."

More on link

Canadian Navy to Escort World Food Programme Ships
CF news release NR 08-028, 6 Aug 08
News release link

The Government of Canada is deploying the frigate HMCS Ville de Québec to the coastal region of Somalia for the next few weeks to conduct naval escorts of World Food Programme ships carrying life-saving supplies to the area. The government is acting on a request from the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and UN International Maritime Organization. We are currently seeking to receive formal authorization from the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia to escort World Food Programme ships into their territorial waters.

“Food supplies are urgently needed in Somalia but deteriorating security has made delivery difficult by land and sea,” said the Honourable Peter Gordon MacKay, Minister of National Defence and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. “Canada is stepping up to the plate by tasking Ville de Québec with the role of escorting World Food Programme ships to ensure their safe arrival at designated ports.”

The WFP is responding to urgent humanitarian needs in Somalia. Over 2.4 million Somalis rely on food aid, of which, eighty percent arrives by sea. While pirates have launched 31 attacks on vessels off Somalia’s eastern and northern coasts, to date no escorted WFP ships have been targeted. Naval escorts have been provided by France, Denmark and the Netherlands over the last eight months. A Dutch frigate escorted the last ship loaded with food for beneficiaries in Somalia at the end of June. Somalia has been beset by instability and insecurity for almost 20 years and is further affected by the regional drought and increasing world food prices.


On July 17th, HMCS Ville de Québec originally deployed on Operation SEXTANT, Canada’s maritime contribution to the Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 (SNMG1). With this new task, which will facilitate humanitarian operations, HMCS Ville de Québec will operate under Operation ALTAIR for about one month in direct support of WFP shipments to Somalia. Following this mission in September, she will return to her original tasking with SNMG1 scheduled to end in December.

Canada currently has three ships deployed with Operation ALTAIR (Her Majesty’s Canadian Ships (HMCS) Iroquois, a destroyer acting as the command ship, Calgary, a frigate, and Protecteur, an auxiliary oil replenishment ship).


More on link
Minister's Speech
HMCS Ville de QuébecAugust 18, 2008

Halifax, Nova Scotia

Please check against delivery

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a real pleasure to be in beautiful Halifax today.

We are gathered here for a very important announcement.

Once again, Canada is delivering leadership on the world stage by making a significant contribution to help those in need.

And once again, the Canadian Forces are showing their flexibility and capacity to respond quickly when called upon.

Recently, we have received formal requests for assistance from the United Nations World Food Program and the International Maritime Organization to escort ships carrying vital food supplies to Somalia.

The Government is deploying Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Ville de Québec to escort the World Food Program vessels.

This will be a crucial mission.

The population of Somalia is facing serious food shortages.

The World Food Program has indicated that all current food stocks in Somalia will be depleted by mid-August.

If these supplies are not renewed, Somalia could suffer a serious famine, like the one that hit Ethiopia in the early 1980s.

The international community needs to respond now to avoid a more serious crisis.

And this is exactly what Canada is doing.

Some 80% of the food supplies to Somalia are shipped by sea, which means they must travel through waters where piracy is a grave concern.

Without a naval escort, the World Food Program ships and the Somali people in desperate need of food would be at risk.

HMCS Ville de Québec’s deployment will ensure that the ships arrive safely at designated ports in Somalia, that food is delivered to those in need, and that lives are saved. HMCS Ville de Québec is perfectly suited for this important mission.

She is a well-trained, technologically advanced ship, capable of undertaking a wide of variety of tasks, including quickly responding to this humanitarian crisis.

She has a helicopter air detachment that can be quickly deployed whenever needed. HMCS Ville de Québec was originally deployed in July to the Mediterranean Sea as part of Operation SEXTANT, which is Canada’s maritime contribution to the Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 fleet.

HMCS Ville de Québec will now depart from her current duties and report to the Canadian Forces’ Task Force Arabian Sea under Operation ALTAIR for the duration of this new humanitarian assistance mission.

With Operation ALTAIR, Canada is contributing to Combined Task Force 150, a multinational coalition conducting maritime security operations in South Asia.

This is another one of Canada’s important contributions to international security and to the campaign against terrorism.

Ladies and gentlemen, Canadians are proud of their military and the role they play in contributing to international security and providing assistance to those in need.

Canadians also count on their Government to give the Canadian Forces the tools they need to perform missions like the one HMCS Ville de Québec has been assigned.

With the Canada First Defence Strategy, this Government is making sure that the Canadian Forces are rebuilt into a first-class, modern military.

A military that has the capabilities required to successfully accomplish the missions expected of them.

A military that our friends and allies can continue to turn to when in need of assistance.

Thank you.

Victoria Helicopter Squadron deployed on World Food Programme escort mission​
VICTORIA— A detachment from 443 Maritime Helicopter Squadron of Victoria, B.C. currently deployed with the frigate Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Ville de Québec, will support the ship while it escorts a World Food Programme (WFP) ship loaded with life-saving supplies from Mombasa, Kenya to Mogadishu, Somalia beginning on Aug. 19.
  “I am very proud that the men and women of 443 Squadron are part of this important mission on the other side of the world from Victoria, said Lt.-Col Ian Lightbody, Commanding Officer. “I have every confidence in the Detachment and its Commander, Maj. Carol Dupuis.” 
This trip is the first of many; Ville de Québec is committed to her humanitarian mission for the next six weeks. The frigate’s presence off the east coast of Africa is the result of a request to Canada from the WFP and the International Maritime Organization, both agencies of the United Nations. After more than 20 years of instability and insecurity, Somalia is now suffering from severe drought and facing increasing world food prices.
“It is super to be in Mombasa, where we have met the master and crew of the first WFP ship that we will escort. It is clear talking to local U.N. officials that they are immensely grateful to Canada for providing a ship to conduct this worthy mission. Myself and the crew of Ville de Québec are truly honoured and proud to have been chosen for this task,” said Commander Chris Dickinson, commanding officer of HMCS Ville de Québec.
The WFP shipments are intended to meet the urgent needs of more than 2.4 million Somalis who rely on food aid, of which 90 percent arrives by sea. The flow of aid to Somalia is threatened by pirates off the coast; according to the International Maritime Bureau, pirates have attacked 24 vessels so far this year, and a total of 31 in 2007.  However, to date no escorted World Food Programme ship has been targeted.
WFP aid supports recipients at the rate of eight people per ton per year. The 112,500 tons of food delivered by ships escorted by Danish, French and Dutch warships between November 2007 and June 2008 was enough to feed 1 million people for six months. A Dutch frigate escorted the last ship loaded with food for beneficiaries in Somalia at the end of June.
HMCS Ville de Québec with the 25 person helicopter detachment deployed from Halifax on July 17, 2008 on Operation SEXTANT, Canada’s participation in Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 (SNMG1), which is currently operating in the Mediterranean Sea. The escort task brings Ville de Québec into Operation ALTAIR, Canada’s maritime contribution to the international campaign against terrorism in the Persian Gulf/Arabian Sea region. At the end of September, when the escort mission is complete, Ville de Québec will return to her original tasking with SNMG1, which is scheduled to end in December.
Canada currently has three ships deployed with Operation ALTAIR: the destroyer HMCS Iroquois (flagship), the frigate HMCS Calgary, and the auxiliary oil replenishment ship HMCS Protecteur.
PUBLICATION: The Chronicle-Herald
DATE:        2008.08.20
SECTION:    NovaScotia
PAGE:        B1
BYLINE:      Chris Lambie Staff Reporter
ILLUSTRATION: HMCS Ville de Quebec, left, and HMCS Iroquois leave HalifaxHarbour for a training exercise in 2006. Ville de Quebec is currently docked in Mombasa, Kenya, preparing to escort UN food shipments to Somalia. (Tim Krochak / Staff)
WORD COUNT:    674
Frigate spots pirate victims on radar; HMCS Ville de Quebec under orders not to stop out of concern for hostages
The crew of a Halifax-based frigate got a glimpse of piracy as it sailed around the Horn of Africa en route to its mission escorting food shipments into Somalia.
Within the past five days, HMCS Ville de Quebec came within about 25 kilometres of two small bulk carriers that had been seized by Somalian pirates.
"On our radar . . . we had two vessels that we knew had been taken by pirates," Cmdr. Chris Dickinson, the warship's captain, said Tuesday in a telephone interview from the frigate, which is docked in Mombasa, Kenya.
"So the threat is real. It's almost eerie coming down that coast and seeing a radar contact with a name on it . . . and knowing that those vessels are held by pirates."
The Canadian warship is under orders to stay away from vessels that have already been seized by pirates.
"The crew's lives are in danger, and ransoms (of millions of dollars) are being demanded from the companies who own them," Cmdr. Dickinson said.
"The danger with (getting too close or attempting to contact the seized ships) is if we threaten them, they may think that we're the navy special forces coming in to try to do a rescue, and the next thing we've got is dead hostages."
Somalian pirates use high-speed skiffs to approach vessels they plan to seize.
"They clearly know the ocean a little bit and they go out in some pretty bad weather and manage to get on board these big ships," Cmdr. Dickinson said.
"They typically will threaten the ships by firing (rocket-propelled grenades), small arms or mortars at them. So they show that force, get them to slow down, and they have built ladders that they hook onto the sides of vessels to get on board."
Over the next six weeks, Ville de Quebec will sail with food shipments from Mombasa to Mogadishu. The United Nations World Food Program made an urgent request for assistance earlier this summer due to pirate attacks in Somalian waters.
"We're going to take this first one up the coast (today)," Cmdr. Dickinson said.
"We're going to then pick up a large ship coming from South Africa . . . off the Kenyan coast and take him into Mogadishu and come back here for the third one. So we've got a busy few days ahead of us here."
Somalian pirates have attacked 24 vessels this year, and a total of 31 in 2007.
But Cmdr. Dickinson is convinced pirates will leave ships under his protection alone.
"There is no pirate that has systems on board that can take on a $1-billion warship," he said. "It simply is a no-go for them to try to do that."
Ethiopian troops backing Somalia's shaky government are battling Islamic militias. Thousands of civilians have been killed this year, and hundreds of thousands have been driven from their homes. Drought and skyrocketing food prices are compounding the dire situation.
The World Food Program, the world's largest humanitarian agency, has said hundreds of thousands of people could die if the organization can't deliver vital supplies of staples, including sorghum, maize, vegetable oil and beans. In November, France provided a frigate to escort food shipments into Somalia. That effort was followed by Danish and Dutch frigates, which escorted ships sailing mostly from Mombasa to Mogadishu.
But the World Food Program, which aims to feed 2.4 million Somalis by December, started looking for more muscle when the Dutch warship left in late June.
"None of the other countries' ships that have been doing this have ever even seen pirates," said Leading Seaman Tyler Hatfield, a member of Ville de Quebec's boarding party who will be sailing on the ships carrying food.
"For small boats, a (warship) of this size, this well-armed, it's extraordinarily unlikely (pirates) would approach it, and if they do, I don't believe they'll even get anywhere close to the World Food Program ships. The visual presence will probably scare them off before anyone has to actually do anything."
The combination 35 C heat and high humidity makes peak temperatures feel like 50 C, said the sailor who carries about 16 kilograms of weapons, ammunition and body armour to do his job.
"We're right on the equator, so the heat is pretty extreme during the day," said the 30-year-old.
"You've really got to make sure you drink a lot of water."
Ordinary Seaman Matthew Bergmann will also be doing 12-hour shifts aboard the civilian vessels Ville de Quebec plans to escort into Somalia.
"The ship is the main weapon; we're going to be standing by to protect the food and the crew," Ordinary Seaman Bergmann said.
"We think we're ready for pretty much any scenario, but we're still hoping for the best."
The bosun said he's "terribly optimistic" about the mission.
"Just one ship is enough to feed a million people," said the 22-year-old. "If you can do that in one sail, that's awesome."( )
PUBLICATION: The Chronicle-Herald
DATE:        2008.08.26
SECTION:    Metro
PAGE:        B2
BYLINE:      Jennifer Stewart Staff Reporter
ILLUSTRATION: A boarding party returns to HMCS Ville de Quebec afterescorting 5,000 tonnes of food aboard the Abdul Rahman to Mogadishu, Somalia. (Cpl Dany Veillette / Marlant HQ)
WORD COUNT:    438
HMCS Ville de Quebec escorts 5,000 tonnes of food to Somalia
While posted in an area known for pirates, civil war and terrorism, crew members aboard HMCS Ville de Quebec got to spread a little good last weekend.
The Halifax-based frigate completed its first escort mission Sunday morning, helping to deliver 5,000 tonnes of food to starving Somalis in Mogadishu.
"Food was going to leave that ship and go feed someone, and that's something navies don't often get to see - a result," Cmdr. Chris Dickinson said in a phone interview off the coast of Somalia Monday. "I've been off Yugoslavia, working there in a submarine; I've been involved in the war on terrorism. This was a totally different feeling.
"It was good, I'll tell ya, it was good."
The Ville de Quebec accompanied the vessel Abdul Rahman to a spot about two kilometres from the shore of war-torn Mogadishu. There the ship was met by African Union soldiers, who are working on land with the United Nations forces.
The Canadian frigate is scheduled to do another escort into Mogadishu this morning with a North Korean ship called the Zang Za San Chong Nyon Ho.
"The ship's company is totally hyped about it because it is something that is so totally different than anything we've done before," Cmdr. Dickinson said of the six-week deployment protecting United Nations World Food Programme shipments from pirates.
He said already this year, 24 vessels have been attacked and seven were taken over and still being held by the rogue seamen.
"It's this really weird, eerie feeling working around here," the commander said. "I just couldn't imagine off the coast of Nova Scotia a vessel being held by pirates, sitting a couple of miles off the coast, and the police or nobody doing anything about it.
"It gives you a sense of the lawlessness around here."
He described Mogadishu as a city torn apart by civil strife, with no infrastructure and little hope.
"It's not a nice place," Cmdr. Dickinson admitted.
Ethiopian troops backing Somalia's shaky government are battling Islamic militias in the area. Thousands of civilians have been killed this year, and hundreds of thousands have been driven from their homes.
Drought and skyrocketing food prices are making a bad situation even worse.
All of these issues are a concern for the Canadian troops, especially as they get closer to land, Cmdr. Dickinson said.
"It's the stray shell that might hit us or somebody taking a potshot at us or a terrorist," he said. "It's these pirates and civil war and terrorism altogether that makes for, as I call it, a very interesting escort."
Despite all this, Cmdr. Dickinson said he doesn't doubt for a second that his crew wants to be there.
Just prior to speaking with The Chronicle Herald on Monday, the commander was working on a message to his men and women. He read the note aloud to try to explain his feelings about the mission.
"Rarely in life do we achieve something that we know is special, is right and has made a difference in a world full of hate and strife," he read.
"On the morning of Aug. 25, the crew of HMCS Ville de Quebec got an opportunity to experience that feeling."
PUBLICATION: National Post
DATE:        2008.09.15
EDITION:    National
SECTION:    Canada
PAGE:        A8
BYLINE:      Matthew Fisher
SOURCE:      Canwest News Service
Canadian destroyer wards off pirates; Somalis flee before they can board freighter
A Canadian warship has helped thwart a pirate attack on an Italian freighter in the Gulf of Aden.
HMCS Iroquois was off the Yemeni coast and 60 kilometres away from the MV Orsolina Bottiglieri when it was pursued by Somali pirates just after sunset on Sept. 3.
"We received a call on the radio and the captain declared that they were being followed," said Commodore Bob Davidson, the Canadian who commands a coalition task force assigned to protect ships in the Gulf of Aden from the growing number of Somali pirates who have been seizing ships and holding their cargoes and crews for ransom.
As the Halifax-based destroyer closed quickly on the Orsolina Bottiglieri, a helicopter from a nearby American warship was also sent to the scene. These actions caused the pirates to flee before they could board the freighter, which was carrying a load of barley from Ukraine to Iran.
"They were using small, fast boats that are pretty hard to find in the dark and we lost them, but we were able to help that fellow [the Italian ship] out," said Commodore Davidson, who transfers command of Task Force 150 to a Danish commodore today in Bahrain. "The captain also helped himself by rigging fire houses, having all his lights on and by manoeuvring towards us."
Somali pirates are currently holding at least six vessels and their crews and have been involved in several dozen other violent incidents in the Gulf of Aden this year. Since Canada took command of Task Force 150 three months ago, the flotilla has disrupted at least 11 pirate gangs as they tried to board ships across a vast 110,000-square-kilometre area.
Iroquois and the West Coastbased HMCS Calgary and HMCS Protecteur entered the Indian Ocean in June. The warships were joined last month by HMCS Ville de Quebec, which was responding to an emergency appeal by the UN's World Food Program to protect emergency food shipments to drought-ravaged Somalia.
Since then Ville de Quebec has safely escorted freighters carrying more than 21,400 tonnes of UN food through waters made dangerous by years of civil war and terrorism as well as piracy. That has been enough food to feed 100,000 people for one year, with several more ships to be escorted into Mogadishu harbour by Ville de Quebec before the end of the month.
Since deploying to Afghanistan in 2002, Canada's army has received far more political and public scrutiny in recent years than the navy.
"Our soldiers are getting killed in Afghanistan and they deserve the weight of our attention," Commodore Davidson said. "The effort that Canada is putting in there deserves top billing. But what we are doing reminds the Canadian people that this is about more than Afghanistan.
"Canadians perhaps don't understand how much we are a maritime nation. It isn't just about oil, but the price of our groceries and whether we can afford to take vacations. Our navy has a major role to play in diplomacy around the world."
As well as deterring pirates, Canadian sailors have also hunted for smugglers who use the northern Indian Ocean to smuggle contraband to support al-Qaida and Taliban terrorist attacks in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the region.
The deployment of 1,000 of Canada's 8,000 sailors to the far side of the world is the Canadian navy's largest undertaking since it sent six warships to the region immediately after the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington in 2001. Despite a steep increase in the price of fuel earlier this summer, Commodore Davidson's mission is expected to come in under its $56-million budget.
Calgary and Protecteur, which have been on a 196 day, 40,000 nautical mile around-the-world journey that began in April and has involved transits of the Panama and Suez Canals, are now taking part in a brief exercise with the Indian Navy in the Bay of Bengal near the port of Chennai (Madras).

gwp said:
"Our soldiers are getting killed in Afghanistan and they deserve the weight of our attention," Commodore Davidson said. "The effort that Canada is putting in there deserves top billing. But what we are doing reminds the Canadian people that this is about more than Afghanistan.
"Canadians perhaps don't understand how much we are a maritime nation. It isn't just about oil, but the price of our groceries and whether we can afford to take vacations. Our navy has a major role to play in diplomacy around the world."

I think that was very nicely put.

:salute: to all our personnel not able to make it home to their families today.

Here, reproduced under the Fair Dealing provisions (§29) of the Copyright Act from today’s Globe and Mail, is another story about CTF 150:


Canadian warships ply African coast in hunt for pirates

From Tuesday's Globe and Mail

September 15, 2008 at 10:00 PM EDT

ABOARD THE HMCS IROQUOIS, MANAMA, BAHRAIN — Brandishing Kalashnikov assault rifles, the speedboat full of heavily armed pirates pulled alongside a defenceless Italian merchant ship. As they prepared to board the vessel, intending to seize whatever riches they found aboard, the Italian captain sent out a distress call and a gunboat flying the colours of Her Majesty's navy came steaming to his aid, forcing the pirates to flee.

The dramatic rescue-at-sea isn't something from the history books or the plot of an upcoming Hollywood blockbuster. It happened last week off the coast of lawless Somalia, where incidents of old-fashioned piracy are commonplace again. The ship that steamed to the Italian captain's assistance was a Canadian destroyer, HMCS Iroquois.

It was a semi-routine day for those who, until Monday, were serving in Canada's second-largest military deployment abroad after Afghanistan: A thousand sailors aboard three warships looking for trouble in some of the wildest waters anywhere.

The three ships – the Iroquois, along with HMCS Calgary, a frigate, and HMCS Protecteur, a supply and refuelling ship – spent the past three-and-a-half months serving in a multinational force known as Combined Task Force 150, with the Iroquois serving as the flagship of what is usually a 15-ship group. Their mandate stretched from the tense waters of the Strait of Hormuz, where coalition warships were often in close quarters with the Iranian navy, to the Egypt's Suez Canal.

With a surge of naval hijackings and hostage takings off the Somali coast posing a threat to commercial traffic through the Gulf of Aden, the Iroquois and CTF-150 spent much of their time hunting elusive pirates. The International Maritime Bureau has documented 49 incidents of piracy in the gulf so far in 2008, compared with 34 for all of last year.

Many of those have occurred in the past month, including the Sept. 3 kidnapping of a French couple aboard a 50-foot luxury yacht; their captors are demanding a $1.4-million ransom. Last week, a South Korean cargo ship was seized in the Gulf of Aden, along with all 21 of its crew, on the same day that another pirate crew fired machine-gun rounds at a Greek vessel in the area.

Commodore Bob Davidson, who finished his tour as commander of CTF-150 on Monday, said the rise of piracy in Somali waters was a reflection of the instability inside that country, which has been mired for decades in destitution and civil war. He characterized most of the pirates as “desperate people” who had fallen in with organized-crime.

The more success the pirates have had in attacking traffic in the Gulf of Aden, the more brazen they become, and the more Somalis they've been able to draw into their ranks.

“There has been an increase [in pirate attacks]. What is driving it now is the realization that there's money to be made here. So the pirates have upgraded their capacity,” Commodore Davidson said in an interview aboard the Iroquois shortly after a ceremony in which Canada formally handed over leadership of CTF-150 to Denmark.

“You're looking at an area where there's lots of fighters, there's lots of weapons.” These aren't the romanticized pirates of lore who sailed the high seas under the skull-and-crossbones flag. Most of pirate attacks in the Gulf of Aden, Commodore Davidson said, were carried out by small groups of men who use small, fast vessels to pull alongside larger ships and then force their way aboard with automatic rifles and rocket-propelled grenade launchers.

Such small craft are hard for the coalition ships to spot, and even harder for them to stop. On a dozen or so occasions that Commodore Davidson said his ships came across a pirate attack in progress, the marauders quickly fled before the coalition forces could apprehend them.

“There's nothing quite like the arrival of a grey hull and all the firepower that goes with it to cause these guys to scatter,” Commodore Davidson said with a tight-lipped grin.

While unabashedly proud of the work his sailors had done under his command – including the boarding of 190 suspicious vessels, some inside Somali coastal waters – Commodore Davidson admits that 15 ships can do little to halt piracy in an area as large as the Gulf of Aden, with annual traffic of 20,000 ships, especially when CTF-150 had other tasks as well. He said the flotilla's main goal was just to make its presence felt in those otherwise lawless waters.

The incoming Danish commander of the CTF-150 seemed slightly intimidated by the task he had just agreed to take on. In addition to Canada and Denmark, the United States, Britain, Germany, France and Pakistan contribute ships to CTF-150.

“This problem cannot be solved by military presence at sea; … at some stage there needs to be solutions ashore, otherwise it's just too easy for pirates to operate from their bases on shore. It doesn't matter how many [war]ships we pull into an area, they will still be able to hijack ships if they can operate safely from a base in the area,” Commodore Per Christensen said.

Just how 1,000 Canadian sailors ended up hunting for pirates off the coast of Somalia is a complicated story. Some might call it mission drift: CTF-150 was initially created under Operation Enduring Freedom, the U.S. military response against al-Qaeda and the Taliban after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington.

As U.S.-led forces prepared to invade Afghanistan, a coalition armada assembled in the Arabian Sea. Six Canadian warships, including the hulking, 36-year-old Iroquois, sped to the region.

Over the intervening seven years, the mission shifted from supporting the Afghanistan war to aiding the 2003 invasion of Iraq. More recently, the force – which is under the regional command of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command in Bahrain – has taken on the broader, less tangible task of providing security and stability across an area that's more than six million square kilometres in size. Inexorably, CTF-150, which was created to fight terrorists, found itself chasing pirates.

Commodore Davidson, for one, doesn't see anything strange about how the mission has evolved. A submariner by trade, he compared the anti-piracy effort to eliminating background noise so that they could focus on what the real enemy, which he said is still al-Qaeda, is up to.

“Operation Enduring Freedom started as counter-terrorism. But looking for terrorists in a maritime environment is a major challenge,” he said. “There's a lot of illicit activity, smuggling, … then buried inside all of that are the nasty people, the terrorists, who are trying to do harm to others. So, Operation Enduring Freedom, although principally targeted at that bottom layer of terrorists, has to deal with some of the other layers, just to simplify the environment so you can find what you're looking for.”

The Canadian and coalition ships actually saw far more of the Iranian navy than they did suspected pirates. Despite rising international tensions and tit-for-tat threats over Iran's nuclear program, Commodore Davidson said his dealings with the Iranians were always “very professional and very courteous.”

After more than three months at sea, the Iroquois, Calgary and Protecteur begin the journey home on Tuesday after a wary last lap through the Strait of Hormuz, the Gulf of Aden and the Suez Canal. A fourth Canadian warship, the frigate HMCS Ville de Quebec, will remain in the region providing protection to World Food Program ships delivering food aid into Somalia.

Just wondering if anyone knows what the next few ships are going to be for the rotation to the Gulf. Thanks.
willellis said:
Just wondering if anyone knows what the next few ships are going to be for the rotation to the Gulf. Thanks.

Ship movements, troops rotations and, aircraft movements are considered OPSEC and will not be discussed.