HMCS Toronto practices anti-submarine warfare scenarios

Members of Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNGM2) participate in an Anti-Submarine Warfare Demonstration exercise during Operation REASSURANCE, February 25, 2019. Photo: MCpl Manuela Berger, Formation Imaging Services Halifax


By: Master Seaman Philippe Cloutier & Sub-Lieutenant Rene Chartrand

From February 25th to March 8th, 2019, Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Toronto took part in the anti-submarine warfare exercise DYNAMIC MANTA during Operation REASSURANCE.

Conducted over the course of two weeks, this NATO-led multi-national exercise was focused on anti-submarine warfare tactical scenarios between surface and air units and submarines.

During the exercise, multiple experimental tactics were tested in the serials to confirm their effectiveness or to develop new tactics, techniques and procedures for future operations. “It was one of the best exercises I have participated in,” said Lieutenant(N) Sean Wilson, the Underwater Warfare Director. “The design, planning and follow through were excellent.”

Utilizing all of HMCS Toronto’s anti-submarine warfare sensors, the warfare team successfully tracked five different submarines. The team was also able to accurately acquire firing solutions on many occasions.

A major part of Toronto’s success during the mission has been the embarked Air Detachment and Canada’s newest aircraft, the CH-148 Cyclone Helicopter. The Cyclone’s new active sonar, the HELRAS, has been a game changer when operating with submarines. The Cyclone is able to proceed ahead of the Task Group and sanitize areas to protect the high value unit from potential submarine threats.  Additionally, HELRAS operators were able to locate submarines quickly.

“DYNAMIC MANTA was an excellent opportunity for us to employ the Cyclone in the Anti-Submarine warfare domain,” said Captain Malcolm MacLean, Cyclone pilot. “Our air crews received training experience that is unavailable at home.”

As part of DYNAMIC MANTA, Toronto was able to test its ability to run silent and avoid detection by submarines. Thanks for noise reduction procedures, Toronto was able to increase its ability to detect submarines, while decreasing the submarines’ ability to detect the ship. At the Post-Exercise Conference, Toronto was informed that it was one of the hardest ships for the submarines to track over the course of the whole exercise!

“This exercise clearly demonstrated that Halifax class frigates remain a very capable platform” said Commander Martin Fluet, the ship’s Captain. The live data provided by units to exercise control was an excellent part of the exercise, enabling all units to have a daily snapshot of how they were performing and the effectiveness of their tactics.

DYNAMIC MANTA ended with presentations of some of the major serials by Toronto staff to the senior members of the participant units, all of which were well received by the Commander of Standing NATO Maritime Group 2.  The Post-Exercise Conference was an excellent wrap up to a very well planned and executed exercise that provided Toronto’s crew with invaluable training against live submarines.

HMCS Toronto is sailing Central and Eastern Europe on Operation REASSURANCE in support of NATO’s assurance and deterrence measures.

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