HMCS Halifax departs for Op REASSURANCE
By Mona Ghiz
After months of preparation, Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Halifax and its Cyclone air detachment from 423 Squadron, 12 Wing Shearwater, N.S., departed Halifax on July 14 en route to a six-month tour on Operation REASSURANCE, Canada’s support to NATO assurance and deterrence measures in Central and Eastern Europe.
Despite some mechanical issues with the ship that delayed its departure for approximately a week, Halifax and all hands on board were well prepared to embark upon this important operation.
“The ship’s company has worked incredibly hard over the last nine-plus months and more, to get ready for this deployment. They have exceeded the standards that we have set out at every step,” said Commodore (Cmdre) Craig Skjerpen, Commander, Canadian Fleet Atlantic.
During the deployment, Halifax will replace HMCS Toronto and assume the role of flagship for Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2), one of four multinational, high readiness maritime forces composed of vessels from allied countries.
“Op REASSURANCE is Canada’s mission with NATO in various waters that connect to Europe,” said Commander (Cdr) Scott Nelson, Halifax’s commanding officer. “Canada commits to a ship consistency in the region to assure our NATO allies that we are there to support the endeavours of NATO’s mission overseas.”
This is the first time Halifax will deploy on Op REASSURANCE and the 12th time a Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) ship has taken part since 2014.
“A lot of work has gone into getting the ship ready; from the sailors on board, to shore establishments like Fleet Maintenance Facility Cape Scott, Base Logistics and Sea Training. We also have the support of our families,” Cdr Nelson added.
Another first is that during this operation, SNMG2 is being commanded by a Canadian woman, the RCN’s Cmdre Josée Kurtz. She is currently on board Toronto and will join Halifax on its arrival in theatre.
Halifax set sail with 196 sailors and 20 members of the air detachment on board. Once Cmdre Kurtz and her international NATO staff join the ship, the crew complement will total 253.
During its time on Op REASSURANCE, Halifax will lead and execute a range of missions across a broad spectrum of operations to enhance interoperability and cooperation with Canada’s allies and NATO partners in the region.