HMCS St. John’s wraps up deployment to the Black Sea

Crewmembers on board a ship stand at attention while the ship enters a harbour.
Crewmembers of HMCS St. John’s stood at attention as the ship entered Constanta Harbour in Romania on February 2, 2017 during Operation REASSURANCE. (Photo: Leading Seaman Ogle Henry, Formation Imaging Services)

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By: Lieutenant (Navy) Emily Anglin, HMCS St. John’s Unit Public Affairs Representative

The Port of Istanbul is always busy. Dozens of ferries sail across the harbour in all directions, moving locals and tourists alike between terminals along the ancient Bosporus, which connects the Sea of Marmara to the Black Sea. This trip gives the passengers a breathtaking view of the historic city. On January 31, 2017, they also had the opportunity to see Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) St. John’s transiting with Spanish frigate Almirante Juan de Borbon into the Black Sea, where the Canadian vessel would conduct a three-week deployment.

While there, St. John’s conducted Exercise SEA SHIELD, which was a significant achievement in its deployment on Operation REASSURANCE. The frigate, which was recently upgraded, integrated seamlessly into a task group of Turkish, Bulgarian, Romanian, American and Spanish ships, aircraft and submarines. The exercise had a variety of serials that worked every department on board St. John’s: manoeuvres, replenishment at sea approaches, combined anti-submarine and air defence exercises, maritime interdiction and vessel boarding, search and rescue of a stricken submarine, and communications via radio, flashing lights and flags.

The hard work of the embarked sailors, soldiers and aircrew did not go unnoticed: “I am exceptionally proud of the officers and crew of this ship,” said Commander Sheldon Gillis, Commanding Officer of HMCS St. John’s. “After steaming 4500 nautical miles to the Black Sea and seamlessly integrating with units of Standing NATO Maritime Group 2, we proved to ourselves and to our allies that we are a first class navy, ready to demonstrate Canada’s commitment to our collective defence obligations.”

While in the region, St. John’s was fortunate enough to pay visits to not only Istanbul, but to Constanta, Romania; Varna, Bulgaria; and Samsun, Turkey. These visits allowed crew members to meet sailors from other ships and learn about their cultures, and also to give back to the local communities: while alongside Constanta, 21 of St. John’s sailors volunteered at a local children’s shelter, demonstrating their commitment to community, even when 4500 nautical miles away from their own homes.

On February 20, 2017, HMCS St. John’s left the Black Sea to carry on its seven-month deployment in the Mediterranean, continuing to enrich the bond between Canada and all members of NATO.

Image gallery

  • Three ships sail in formation in the Black Sea.
  • A sailor discusses with two young civilian women.
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