HMCS St. John’s participated in Exercise DYNAMIC MANTA 2017

A crew member on board a ship signals to a helicopter preparing for departure.
Mediterranean Sea. March 21, 2017 – A ground crew member signals a Turkish Sea Hawk Helicopter prior to its departure onboard Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) St. John’s as it transits the Mediterranean Sea during Operation REASSURANCE. (Image by Leading Seaman Ogle Henry, Formation Imaging Services)


On the morning of March 13, 2017, Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) St. John’s, currently deployed on Operation REASSURANCE, found itself departing Catania, Italy in good—and varied—company. Frigates, destroyers, auxiliary ships, and diesel-electric and nuclear submarines from France, the United States, Italy, Greece, Spain, Turkey, and the United Kingdom set sail with a singular purpose: NATO Exercise DYNAMIC MANTA.

This exercise is the largest annual Anti-Submarine Warfare exercise held in the Mediterranean Sea. Much to the benefit of St. John’s, this was one of the largest DYNAMIC MANTA ever held.

During this exercise, NATO allies trained how to work together in Anti-Submarine Warfare. Anti-Surface Warfare was also incorporated between Combined Anti-Submarine Exercises during the two weeks the task force remained at sea. To avoid returning to port prematurely, the ships engaged in multiple replenishments at sea, topping up on fuel for themselves and for their shipborne helicopters, which flew long into the night to aid in hunting submarines.

Searching for the American, Virginia-class submarine New Mexico was familiar to members of St. John’s Acoustics division and the Sea King crew. They gained experience with that class of boat in the fall of 2016 while the ship supported Submarine Commander Course 50 in the AUTEC range off the Bahamas.

The team gained new experience by interacting with several other submarines: Turkish Inönü; Spanish Mistral; Italian Pietro Venuti; and Greek Papanikolis. Working with the Papanikolis was an exceptional opportunity for all. It has air-independent propulsion, which allows it to stay submerged for periods far longer than that of a conventional diesel-electric submarine. This makes it a far more difficult target to locate and track.

The surface units were joined in their hunt of the subsurface units by a variety of aircraft: a Canadian CP-140 Aurora Long-Range Patrol Aircraft; German and Norwegian P-3Cs; a Spanish P-3M; a Turkish P-235; a French Atlantique II; an American P-8 Poseidon; and British and Italian EH101 maritime helicopters.

On March 24, with a total of 12 exercise scenarios complete, HMCS St. John’s returned to Catania for a weekend to rest and regroup prior to the next phase of the ship’s deployment on Operation REASSURANCE.

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