HMCS St. John’s participates in passing exercises with NATO allies

Three ships sail together under cloudy skies
Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) St. John’s performs manoeuvres with other members of Standing NATO Maritime Group One (SNMG1) while on Operation REASSURANCE in the Baltic Sea, March 21, 2018. (Photo: Corporal Tony Chand, Formation Imaging Services )

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By Captain Christopher Daniel, Canadian Joint Operations Command Public Affairs, and Sub-Lieutenant Derek Frank, HMCS St. John’s Unit Public Affairs Representative

Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) St. John’s participated in a series of passing exercises (PASSEX) with NATO Allies in the Baltic Sea from March 14 to 22, 2018.

Participating ships from other nations in the Alliance included HDMS Niels Juel from Denmark; FGS Erfurt from Germany; P15 Selis from Lithuania; LNS Skrunda and LNS Versaitis from Latvia; and ORP Generał Kazimierz Pułaski, ORP Generał Tadeusz Kościuszko, ORP Kaszub and ORP Bałtyk from Poland.

PASSEX is an exercise conducted by two or more navies to ensure that they are able to communicate and cooperate while operating at sea. The drills can be as basic as communication via flashing light, radio procedure drills, or tactical and formation maneuvering. It also includes more advanced electronic and digital cooperation including using electronic communications and target acquisition.

“You have to be adaptable,” said Leading Seaman Nicole Fabella, a naval communicator aboard St. John’s. “Although we use the same codebook, the way in which countries train their communicators can be different, especially when operating with navies that speak languages other than English. It is more about different styles than anything else.”

The PASSEX further enhanced the robust relationships between the participating navies. The series provided an opportunity for NATO allies to continue building their strengths in working together in the areas of Anti-Air Warfare, Anti-Submarine Warfare, and Anti-Surface Warfare.

Standing NATO Maritime Group One (SNMG1) planned the majority of the serials in this PASSEX, with contributions from the participating nations. The week-long exercise practiced every aspect of warfare at sea. It also demonstrated NATO’s resolve by continuing to exercise in and around the Baltic Sea.

“Every time you get the chance to work alongside other navies is a privilege. As part of SNMG1, our motto is Stronger Together,” said Commander Gord Noseworthy, Commanding Officer of HMCS St. John’s.

“Time spent conducting operations with Allies overseas helps increase our knowledge of how our Allies function, and therefore contributes to increased global security. Everyone here has enjoyed our time so far in the Baltic Sea, and we’re looking forward to working with additional nations throughout the remainder of our deployment,” continued Commander Noseworthy.

HMCS St. John’s officially joined SNMG1 on January 18, 2018 as part of Operation REASSURANCE, Canada’s support to NATO assurance and deterrence measures in Central and Eastern Europe. The deployment of an HMCS frigate in support of NATO assurance and deterrence measures provides Canada with the flexibility to execute a range of missions across a broad spectrum of operations in support of the international effort in the region. These include surveillance and monitoring, regional defence and diplomatic engagement, and capacity building.

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