HMCS Winnipeg welcomed German sailor to the team

Navy News / December 31, 2021

By Lieutenant (Navy) Christopher Sulyma 

Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Winnipeg, while deployed to South-East Asia on Operations Projection and Neon, learned the importance of multinational partnerships first-hand.

Kapitänleutnant (KptLt) Tim Hupka from the German navy joined Winnipeg in Manila, Philippines, half-way through the deployment. KptLt Hupka was the first German exchange officer to participate in Operation Regulus, the Royal Canadian Navy’s personnel exchange program. 

Established in 2010, Regulus was created to enable sailors to gain valuable at-sea experience and continue achieving career qualifications during a time when the Halifax-Class Modernization Project limited sailing opportunities. Since then, RCN personnel have filled billets in numerous allied and partner navies including the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and Chile, to name just a few. While the RCN is no longer short of sailing opportunities, Operation Regulus has been maintained as an indispensable means of engaging with international partners and allies.Many navies have sought reciprocal placements and training within the Royal Canadian Navy to further develop their own skills, gain at-sea experience with a like-minded navy, and build the bridges of international cooperation that are vital to operations.

Assigned as his host, and a veteran of the Regulus program myself (Chile, April to September 2014), I was able to give KptLt Hupka a unique introduction to life on board a Canadian warship.

As the usual mutual grilling commenced we learned that in most ways that counted, our navies share similar traditions, attitude and training.

KptLt Hupka remained with Winnipeg for the remainder of the deployment, returning to Esquimalt, B.C., with the ship before heading home to Wilhelmshaven for the holidays. This was his first time in Canada, and he expressed his excitement at getting to explore Victoria before flying out.

While with the ship, he participated in multinational exercises, as well as the full spectrum of Op Neon operations, experiences he will be able to share with his German Navy colleagues. Outside of operations, he joined the ship’s ongoing ball hockey tournament and participated in a number of the morale-building events held on board.

The lessons that KptLt Hupka learned while working with Winnipeg will pay dividends for the German Navy, which is beginning operations in the Indo-Pacific. It has provided first-hand experience with how operations are conducted in the region, patterns of life and many of the capabilities of the navies of the region.

Likewise, it offered insight for the crew in Winnipeg to see how the German Navy operates, and both broke and affirmed cultural stereotypes on both sides. KptLt Hupka was adamant, for example, that Germans do not revere David Hasselhoff nearly as much as popular culture would have us believe. Conversely, the Canadian love of hockey was extremely reinforced, as have the rivalries that exist as a consequence.

On this deployment, Winnipeg operated with a multinational carrier strike group, participated in multinational exercises off Japan, sailed in consort with seven allied nations, and participated in the enforcement of UN Security Council resolutions.