Op REASSURANCE update: HMCS Toronto wraps up Black Sea deployment

Members of Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) TORONTO’s Naval Boarding Party conduct boarding party training with Romanian Ship (ROS) REGELE FERNDINAD in the Black Sea during Exercise SEA SHIELD, April 9, 2019. Photo: MCpl Manuela Berger, Formation Imaging Services Halifax RP23-2019-0144-008

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By Sub-Lieutenant Clint Grant, Operation REASSURANCE

From March 28th to April 17th, 2019, HMCS Toronto was in the Black Sea as part of Standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG2) conducting a variety of maritime situational awareness patrols and interoperability exercises with other navies.

In that time, Toronto made a strong showing of Canadian presence and was able to foster strong working relationships with NATO allies and the Ukrainian Navy. Toronto’s Commanding Officer, Commander Martin Fluet, reflected on SNMG2 operations in the Black Sea, “this planned routine patrol in the Black Sea was very successful and allowed us to develop and improve our interoperability with our partners and allies in this part of the world.”

Toronto visited the port of Odesa, Ukraine from April 1st to 3rd, during which a number of official calls, diplomatic luncheons, ship tours, and meetings with Ukrainian military officials took place. “The true value of NATO’s visit to Odesa will be a legacy of ongoing cooperation and the exchange of skills and ideas to foster closer collaboration in our partnership for peace going forward,” said Lieutenant(N) Nathan Jenkins, Toronto’s Operations Officer.
On April 4th, Toronto conducted interoperability exercises with the Ukrainian Navy, including manoeuvring exercises, communications exercises, and gunnery drills. The aim of these activities was to support expanded Canadian and NATO contributions to capacity building with the Ukrainian military. These maritime exercises presented an opportunity for the Ukrainian Navy to learn more about NATO best practices as part of their desired accession to NATO. On completion of drills with the Ukrainian Navy, Toronto proceeded to rejoin the SNMG2 Task Group to conduct maritime situational awareness patrols.

After several days at sea with SNMG2, the Task Group visited the port of Constanta, Romania. The Task Group then joined the Romanian Navy to participate in Exercise SEA SHIELD from April 8th to 12th. It was a week-long training event hosted by Romania aimed at achieving greater proficiency in the warfare disciplines and achieving a consistent level of interoperability among NATO allies. Toronto led one of the premier serials of the exercise by offering a drone Hammerhead target for gunnery exercise, enabling allied vessels to perform target acquisition and firing proficiency practice. Toronto’s execution was commended by the Commander of SNMG2 for the smooth effective execution.

Now that SNMG2 has exited the Black Sea and re-entered the Mediterranean, Toronto will transit to the port of Civitavecchia, Italy, in order to undergo a rest and maintenance period. This period will provide the crew with an opportunity to rest and recover from the busy operational tempo during the Black Sea patrol, and afford time to conduct mid-mission maintenance on the ship and helicopter.

Once the rest and maintenance period is complete, Toronto will proceed to sea to carry on its mission representing Canada and supporting NATO presence in the Mediterranean Sea as part of Operation REASSURANCE.

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