HMCS Fredericton returns after five-month NATO deployment

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Navy News / December 21, 2021

By Joanie Veitch

After a five-month deployment on Operation Reassurance serving as the flagship to Standing NATO Maritime Group One (SNMG1), Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Fredericton returned to Halifax on December 18.

While its primary role was as the SNMG1 flagship, Fredericton also kept busy with maritime security patrols and multinational exercises as part of Operation Reassurance, in support of NATO assurance and deterrence measures in Central and Eastern Europe.

In September, Fredericton took part in Dynamic Mariner 21-2, a multinational exercise held off the north coast of Scotland.

Fredericton acted as a multi-role point defence platform, participating in myriad simulated combat scenarios while at sea,” said Commander (Cdr) Drew Graham, the ship’s Commanding Officer.

“The main value of these exercises is to provide sailors with the experience they need against real fighter aircraft and submarines, which they can bring home and spread throughout the fleet. The sailors learned how to cooperate with other navies and their sailors, creating organizational knowledge that is not soon forgotten.”

Other activities during Fredericton's deployment included the Flag Officer Sea Training program off the southern coast of England and Passing Exercise training with various Baltic states.

Due to a fire on board ship on November 18, Fredericton had to pull out of Flotex Silver, the Royal Norwegian Navy's exercise off the coast of Norway.

"The crew fought the fire in accordance with their training, and fortunately no one was injured. It was in a tough place to fight a fire and we were in some rough weather so the task of fighting that fire was challenging. The crew all performed extremely well," said Cdr Graham.

Damage from the fire consisted mainly of cabling and some control systems that were melted or suffered heat damage. While in Trondheim, Norway for repairs, a team from Fleet Maintenance Facility Cape Scott arrived to remove and replace the cables, assisted by Fredericton’s crew.

Commodore (Cmdre) Bradley Peats commanded SNMG1 from Fredericton for most of the ship's deployment, transferring to Spanish ship SPS Almirante Juan de Borbón while Fredericton was on a two-week rest and maintenance period.

Cmdre Peats took command of SNMG1 in January 2021 and will continue as commander until January 2022. Reviewing his year of command, Cmdre Peats reflected on the familiarity that comes with being at sea and operating with partner and allied nations.

“Our ability to integrate seamlessly, sometimes even for a day, has proven NATO’s interoperability, operational excellence and continued professionalism at sea,” he said.

"There was no greater demonstration of this than when I temporarily transferred my command Flag from HMCS Halifax to the Danish ship HDMS Absalon in April and again in October from HMCS Fredericton to the Spanish ship SPS Almirante Juan de Borbón while both Canadian frigates entered their scheduled rest and maintenance periods," he said, referencing both Halifax and Fredericton, which served back-to-back Reassurance deployments.

On a personal level, Cmdre Peats said he's enjoyed this past year of command. “Sailors are more similar than they are different and the tactics, techniques and procedures we use to operate warships are such that we are interoperable and therefore much stronger together.”