Excellence at sea: HMCS St. John’s completes a successful deployment on Operation REASSURANCE

Sailors conduct operations on board a ship during a fuel replenishment with another ship.
Operations Room Officer, Lieutenant (Navy) Jason Aitken, takes temporary control of Her Majesty's Canadian Ship St. John's during a fuel replenishment at sea with the British Naval Vessel WAVE RIDER as they transit the North Atlantic Ocean on Exercise DYNAMIC MONGOOSE during Operation REASSURANCE on July 2, 2017. (Photo: LS Ogle Henry, Formation Imaging Services)


By Canadian Joint Operations Command Public Affairs

After steaming over 37 200 nautical miles, operating with the navies of 15 countries, and visiting 16 ports in ten countries, Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) St. John’s is on its way home.

The frigate and its crew of about 240 members deployed on Operation REASSURANCE in January 2017. Since then, they have been honing their skills, training with allies and partners, and conducting assigned NATO tasks in the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea.

While deployed, the ship took part in several exercises, two of which focused on anti-submarine warfare. Commander Sheldon Gillis, Commanding Officer of HMCS St. John’s, explains that this is what the ship is designed for. St. John’s maritime helicopter, organic sensors, and recently-augmented command and control make it ideal for detecting, localizing and reporting submarine movements and activities.

“Canada has a long history of excellence in anti-submarine warfare dating to the Second World War,” he says. “This most recent deployment certainly proved our reputation to be well earned.”

The deployment was an opportunity for crew members to train in interoperability with allies, as each exercise involved several nations. Further, during this deployment St. John’s sailed with Standing NATO Maritime Groups One and Two. These are NATO maritime task forces with participation from multiple NATO members.

“This deployment afforded many of the ship’s crew their first opportunity to sail with our NATO allies and partners, and exposed them to invaluable training opportunities,” says Chief Petty Officer 1st Class Phil Hampson, the Coxwain of HMCS St John’s. “The ship’s company also had the added benefit of sailing to many parts of the world that the Royal Canadian Navy typically does not go to.”

Canada has deployed a Maritime Task Force on Operation REASSURANCE since 2014, when the operation was launched to promote stability in Central and Eastern Europe.

Commander Gillis explains that regional stability ultimately contributes to international stability. “This mission is very much about global peace and security,” he says. “Preventing regional instabilities prevents the spread of global terrorism, improves the quality of life of those citizens that would be victimized by regional conflict, and ultimately results in economic benefits for all stakeholders, not just Canada or the members of the NATO alliance.”

For some of the crew members on this deployment, this was their first time an overseas mission. Able Seaman Travis Page was one such member.

“Deploying on an international operation for the first time felt new and exciting,” he explains. “Although working with new allies every few weeks was a unique and challenging experience, it was also a fantastic one. The thing that surprised me the most was to see how similarly and yet differently other NATO countries operate compared to Canada.”

For Commander Gillis, a key highlight of being on Operation REASSURANCE was the exceptional work ethic of his crew.

“I was so privileged to have a positive, hard-working, and professional group of shipmates for this deployment,” he says. “They consistently brought great credit to our Navy and Armed Forces.”

HMCS St. John’s has started the journey to its home port. HMCS Charlottetown will soon take up its Operation REASSURANCE Maritime Task Force responsibilities in the Mediterranean Sea.

Image gallery

  • Sailors disembark a giant and board a smaller inflatable boat.
  • Sailors conduct operations on board a ship during a fuel replenishment with another ship.
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