Esquimalt-based sailors train in Crete

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Members of the Esquimalt-based Maritime Tactical Operations Group (MTOG) elevated their training in Souda Bay, Crete, last month.

Ten sailors were dropped off by the Halifax-based frigate HMCS St John’s for three days of training at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Maritime Interdiction Operations Training Centre in preparation for a combined capacity-building exercise in Tunisia.

The training program consisted of fast roping, rappelling, and close quarter battle tactics.

The training centre’s purpose is to conduct the combined training necessary for NATO forces and partners to better execute surface, sub-surface, aerial surveillance, and special operations activities in support of maritime interdiction operations.

At the rappel tower the team received basic fast rope training, a technique for descending a thick rope, which is used to board ships at sea and to reach destinations on land.

Next was ladder climbing, the primary insertion method for boarding suspect vessels, followed by proficiency rappel training from the top deck of the rappel tower 15 metres up.

The group trained in darkness, as each sailor received an MP9 sub-machine-gun and non-lethal training ammunition before heading to the training vessel, the former Hellenic Ship (HS) Aris, for close quarter battle and upper deck movement training.

Members of the team said the unfamiliar environment of Aris added realism, as the vessels they board in real-life situations are always foreign to them.

On the last day of training, the team moved to a smaller mine sweeper, the former HS Alkyon. The smaller layout with multiple entry points gave the group many tactical problems with many different solutions.

The three days spent at the NATO Maritime Interdiction Operations Training Centre re-affirmed the team’s confidence in their skills before heading to Tunisia for capacity-building with Canada’s naval forces.

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