Canadian frigate joins Black Sea drills under Operation Reassurance

Her Majesty's Canadian Ship Fredericton hoists its Battle Ensign upon completion of an Anti-Ship Missile Defense Exercise in an operating area outside of Norfolk, Virginia, on November 6, 2014. 
Photo: Lt(N) Jennifer Fidler, Royal Canadian Navy Public Affairs
Her Majesty's Canadian Ship Fredericton hoists its Battle Ensign upon completion of an Anti-Ship Missile Defense Exercise in an operating area outside of Norfolk, Virginia, on November 6, 2014. Photo: Lt(N) Jennifer Fidler, Royal Canadian Navy Public Affairs

HMCS Fredericton has entered the Black Sea for joint drills with naval vessels from Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey as part of Operation Reassurance, after an initial stage completed in the Mediterranean Sea.

The Royal Canadian Navy multi-role patrol frigate will conduct operations in concert with Romanian frigate Regina Maria and other allied ships from Bulgaria and Turkey in April to enhance the Alliance’s maritime interoperability as participating nations develop familiarity, trust and confidence in each other, Canada’s Defense Department said in a statement.

Fredericton is the lead to Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 Task Unit 02 deployed to the Black Sea, replacing Winnipeg which concluded a six-month operational deployment. Since January, Fredericton performed surveillance, reconnaissance and monitoring operations of migrant crossings in the Aegean Sea.

Early January, Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Fredericton departed its homeport and headed east on a six-month mission covering thousands of miles. The ship deployed to join Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2) and represent Canada as part of Operation Reassurance. For some of the crew, this is the first real deployment of their naval careers, the Canadian Defense Department further said.

HMCS Fredericton’s crew adapted to changes in their environment as they sailed across the Atlantic Ocean. They acclimatized to a five-hour time shift and a temperature difference upwards of twenty degrees in warmth. The winds and winter seas made for challenging conditions on occasion, with seven meter swells testing the crew’s sea legs; however, such minor nuisances were soon forgotten.

The planning, training and preparations to get to this point were extensive.  Mission work-ups ran by Sea Training (Atlantic) ensured HMCS Fredericton and its crew were “Ready Aye Ready” for Operation Reassurance.

After transiting the Atlantic, HMCS Fredericton passed through the Strait of Gibraltar and into the Alboran Sea. The ship conducted a short port visit in Cagliari on the Italian island of Sardinia, then joined SNMG2 to conduct exercises and patrols in the Mediterranean Sea. These exercises included standardized communications between NATO partners, tactical maneuvers in formation, and replenishment at sea evolutions to allow SNMG2 an extended time at sea without having to go ashore for fuel.

HMCS Fredericton’s deployment to the Mediterranean Sea and then the Black Sea ensures that the Canadian Armed Forces are active on the international stage. The mission will see the ship undertake situational awareness patrols with allies and partners, contribute to regional stability, and conduct diplomatic engagements. These efforts will strengthen ties with NATO and demonstrate Canada’s commitment to the alliance.