Two Royal Canadian Navy warships HMCS Moncton and Goose Bay are in West Africa, to participate in the multinational exercise Obangame Express 2022.
The two warships will promote maritime safety and security in West Africa in a deployment that aims to build on the Royal Canadian Navy’s (RCN’s) ability to demonstrate to partner nations its readiness to effectively respond to a wide range of security threats, both abroad and at home. The Royal Canadian Navy said in a statement.
RCN’s HMCS Moncton and Goose Bay are 55 metres Kingston class coastal defence vessels. Canada operates 12 of the type which were delivered in the 1990s.
This is the first time since 2020 that ships of the Royal Canadian Navy are are crossing the Atlantic Ocean.
The two ships departed Canada on 20 January as part of Operation Projection West Africa and will return home later this month. Operation Projection is a strategic deployment that aims to promote maritime stability and security in the Gulf of Guinea region. Working with West African partner nations, the goal is to foster and develop relationships, building capacity through cooperative activities.
Both ships subsequently participated in Obangame Express, conducting maritime interdiction operations, as well as practising visiting, boarding, searching and seizure techniques with partners and allies. The exercise was led by US Naval Forces Africa and is designed to improve cooperation amongst participating nations.
“On our first day, we were stationed off the coast of Benin in West Africa,” said Sub-Lieutenant (SLt) Kathleen Wudrick. “Goose Bay was role-playing as a vessel smuggling oil. The Benin Navy came to our location, conducted a hailing exercise and eventually boarded us, searching for smuggled goods, which in this case was oil.”
The second day of the exercise saw Goose Bay stationed off the coast of Ghana where the Ghanaian Navy conducted boarding exercises, with one of its helicopters assisting.
In other missions, Moncton served as a target ship while helping the Togolese Navy simulate a human trafficking vessel boarding, while Goose Bay worked with the Nigerian Navy to develop a greater knowledge and understanding of operating conditions within the Gulf of Guinea region.
“I was very impressed with the professionalism and seamanship shown by the Nigerian Navy when we conducted a fleet manoeuvring exercise with them,” said S1 Cedric Meehan. “The Nigerians were on the ball, and the manoeuvring went off without a hitch, finishing with all the ships involved manning the rails and cheering each ship on as we conducted a sail past.”
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Moncton and Goose Bay also worked closely with the Ghanaian Navy on numerous other exercises, helping to strengthen ties and improve their ability to successfully work together on multinational operations and missions.
A detachment of personnel from the Naval Tactical Operations Group (NTOG) and a Maritime Operations Centre (MOC) mentorship team have deployed with Moncton and Goose Bay and will also participate in the exercise.
“The main maritime security challenges in the region are piracy, kidnapping and illegal fishing. Most of the nations we’re working with have very small navies so part of our role is to help them to build capacity and train for these types of situations,” explained Cdr Rice.
During their time in the region, the ships will also conduct cooperative deployments with partner navies, including Italy, Denmark and the United States.
While in the region the ships have several scheduled port visits: Dakar, Senegal; Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire; Tema, Ghana; Takoradi, Ghana, and Freetown, Sierra Leone.