NATO maritime commander applauds RCN’s operational excellence

Navy News / October 11, 2016

The Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) is a valuable NATO partner that brings real operational excellence to the military alliance, according to the Commander of NATO’s Allied Maritime Command.

Vice-Admiral Clive Johnstone made a personal visit to National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa on September 30, 2016 to meet with Rear-Admiral Gilles Couturier, Deputy Commander of the RCN, and other senior leaders from the Department of National Defence to discuss Canada’s ongoing work at sea within the NATO alliance.

“I’m here to thank Canada for the most extraordinary commitment it has made over the last year in my command,” said VAdm Johnstone. “The submarine Windsor, the frigates Fredericton and Charlottetown, and the command teams, have been the market leaders.”

The RCN has a legacy of involvement in NATO operations since Canada was one of the principal initiators of the alliance in 1949. Most recently, the RCN has contributed to Operation REASSURANCE in Central and Eastern Europe, sending frigates – including Her Majesty’s Canadian Ships Fredericton and Charlottetown – to take part in counter-terrorism patrols and related activities as part of NATO assurance measures in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea.

In addition, in August 2016 Her Majesty’s Canadian Submarine Windsor took part in an unanticipated real-world operational patrol at the request of NATO, following the completion of the multinational exercise DYNAMIC MONGOOSE in the Norwegian Sea. This tasking was possible because Windsor was “generating forward” – already at sea, and already deployed in the region with the people, tools, skills and flexibility to react and respond quickly when called upon to support Canada’s military priorities.

VAdm Johnstone made special mention of Windsor’s deployment and also praised the consistent steady stream of capability that Canada provides in its submarines and frigates.

The RCN’s Deputy Commander appreciated the significance of the personal visit by the NATO Commander, and how it reflected well on the professionalism of Canada’s sailors.

“It’s all about relationships,” said RAdm Couturier. “The Admiral came here to say that at the end of the day, the relationship between his Command and the RCN is solid. He’s here to recognize the excellence at sea of our sailors and the contribution that the ships are making.”

“The ships’ companies are coming back and hearing that what they’re doing out there has been noticed by the NATO Commander and by Commander RCN,” continued RAdm Couturier, “because they are providing them with the flexibility they need to conduct their missions operationally.”

Canada brings a unique maritime heritage to NATO operations, according to VAdm Johnstone.

“Canada understands the sea. It also understands the difficult sea, the high north, the choppy waters. I rely very heavily on the advice I get from my Canadian commanders and my Canadian friends on how we operate at sea. And to lose that expertise would be hurtful.”