NTOG represents RCN at International Maritime Exercise 2019

NTOG Operators conduct a fast rope insertion on the USS Forrest Sherman during the final training exercise in support of IMX 19. Photo Credit: Lt(N) Steven Dyck *** Les spécialistes du GOTN exécutent une insertion par corde de descente rapide à bord de l’USS Forrest Sherman durant l’XEC de l’IMX19. Photo : Ltv Steven Dyck

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The Naval Tactical Operations Group (NTOG), hosted by the United States Navy’s (USN) 5th Fleet, represented the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) at the International Maritime Exercise 2019 (IMX19) in Manama, Bahrain and the Persian Gulf.

This iteration of the IMX saw over 50 nations and seven international organizations participating to foster international cooperation in the region. With a strong maritime specialist skills component, the exercise was a true demonstration of global resolve to maintain regional freedom of navigation and international maritime commerce. Additionally, by building on a long history of cooperation and interoperability, IMX19 showed how all partners can come together to rapidly form an effective coalition force, should an emergency arise.

For its part, as the RCN’s Centre of Excellence for Maritime Interdiction Operations and Advanced Visit, Board, Search and Seizure (VBSS) capabilities, NTOG participated in a number of integrated combined training events and exercises with a United States Coast Guard (USCG) Maritime Security Response Team (MSRT) currently deployed with the United States Navy 5th fleet. Aided by Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 26’s MH-60 Seahawks, NTOG and the MRST demonstrated seamless interoperability and capability to work together as a combined advanced VBSS force.

Throughout the 28 Oct – 13 Nov 2019 exercise, both teams worked together at and on various training venues such as the USCG training facility in Manama, Bahrain, Al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar, and the USN’s Arleigh Burke, USS Forrest Sherman, who served as an underway training and the Final Training Exercise (FTX) ‘enemy’ vessel. With such a diversity of venues, the teams had time to share Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTPs) in many common VBSS skills including close quarter combat, vessel observation commentary, mission planning, and helicopter insertion methods to name a few.

In the culminating FTX, the commonality in TTPs enabled a combined detailed mission planning process for the simultaneous two-helicopter insertion of the two forces to the underway vessel. Once on board, the pre-mission planning enabled the efficient seizure and securing of the large vessel. Once complete, the teams linked up and then were extracted by the Sea Hawks for the long return flight to Bahrain.

Overall, IMX19 was a resounding success for all participants. For its part, the exercise served as a demonstration of how rapidly NTOG teams can integrate with the deployed ships, aviation and MIO teams of Canada’s allies. In keeping with the overall theme of IMX19, not only did this exercise serve to advance and refine the RCN’s Advanced VBSS capability, but it was a prime example of how international training events increase allied readiness to rapidly come together as an effective combined force in response to an international crisis.

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