HMCS Charlottetown participates in NATO surface exercise

Nisi­da — Suc­cess in oper­a­tions comes from skil­ful con­trol of many mov­ing pieces, and it takes time and train­ing to mas­ter the skills of under­stand­ing, visu­al­iz­ing, describ­ing and pro­cess­ing com­plex sit­u­a­tions.

ScanEa­gle unmanned aer­i­al vehi­cle launched from HMCS Char­lot­te­town
Source: NATO
Click to enlarge

These skills were recent­ly applied in the Mediter­ranean Sea as HMCS Char­lot­te­town con­duct­ed a sur­face exer­cise (SURFEX) with the ships of Stand­ing NATO Mar­itime Group 1 (SNMG1) dur­ing Oper­a­tion ACTIVE ENDEAVOUR. With four ships from three dif­fer­ent coun­tries, one heli­copter and one ScanEa­gle unmanned aer­i­al vehi­cle, the SURFEX required syn­er­gy and cohe­sion to pull things togeth­er.

“We con­duct­ed a SAG [Sur­face Action Group]. This is when you take part of a for­ma­tion and you detach ships to pur­sue a con­tact,” said Lieu­tenant (Navy) Damien Ciot­ti, an Above-Water War­fare Offi­cer serv­ing in HMCS Char­lot­te­town. “Dur­ing war­fare train­ing using live assets, the Oper­a­tions Room goes into sim­u­la­tion mode, but the beau­ty of the sys­tem is that all of the sym­bols on our equip­ment look the same — as if it was actu­al­ly hap­pen­ing — so, to the oper­a­tor, it’s real.”

Anoth­er key ele­ment of the exer­cise was the ScanEa­gle UAV. “Once launched, the UAV acts as the long-range eyes of the ship,” said Lt(N) Ian Bilodeau, anoth­er of Charlottetown’s Above-Water War­fare Offi­cers. “Although we are still con­duct­ing test flights, the UAV has the poten­tial to open up the bat­tle-space. My sen­sors in the Ops Room are lim­it­ed by the line of sight, but with the UAV our range is great­ly increased and we get a true bird’s-eye view of the sit­u­a­tion.”

HMCS Char­lot­te­town embarked a ScanEa­gle UAV detach­ment for tri­als to assess its intel­li­gence, sur­veil­lance and recon­nais­sance capa­bil­i­ties at sea, and to explore the fea­si­bil­i­ty of equip­ping Cana­di­an war­ships with UAVs.

Through­out the SURFEX, Char­lot­te­town act­ed as the Sur­face War­fare Com­man­der, car­ry­ing Com­modore Ben Bekker­ing, com­man­der of Stand­ing NATO Mar­itime Group 1. “Char­lot­te­town did an excel­lent job to bring togeth­er all the mov­ing pieces through­out the sce­nario.”

“It’s all about build­ing a pic­ture,” said Lt(N) Ciot­ti. “Being able to coor­di­nate the flow of infor­ma­tion from mul­ti­ple assets and inte­grat­ing it all togeth­er.”

HMCS Char­lot­te­town is cur­rent­ly deployed on Oper­a­tion METRIC, Canada’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in inter­na­tion­al efforts to enhance secu­ri­ty in and around the Mediter­ranean Sea. Since mid-Jan­u­ary, the Hal­i­fax-based frigate has been inte­grat­ed into Stand­ing NATO Mar­itime Group 1 and assigned to Oper­a­tion ACTIVE ENDEAVOUR.

Allied Com­mand Oper­a­tions

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