Crew of HMCS Fredericton adapting to life at sea on NATO mission

With a couple of days of rough weather and a little seasickness along the way, the Canadian warship HMCS Fredericton and its crew have joined their allies in Turkish waters to participate in NATO measures in Central and Eastern Europe.

See Full Article

There, according to its commanding officer, the Canadian frigate and its crew of 260 will spend the next months patrolling, communicating with and sometimes visiting other ships, and making NATO's presence known in the area.

The ship sailed from Halifax January 5 as part of Operation REASSURANCE, the Canadian Armed Forces' contribution to a NATO effort to counter Russian-backed unrest in Ukraine.

The vessel will also conduct counter-terrorism patrols and generally be ready to take on any mission required, "from search and rescue to anti-air or anti-submarine warfare and everything in between," Cmdr. Trevor MacLean said in an interview.

Since joining a German-led NATO task group, the focus has been on 'integration training,' or making sure the vessels from different countries will communicate well in the event of a threat.

"Our ability to operate with each other at sea is something we really focus on whenever we get together," MacLean said.

MacLean said the toughest part of training for the deployment was mentally preparing to spend six to seven months at sea in an enclosed space with 260 other people.

"But once you get away and get into a routine at sea and get into the day-to-day of doing something we're all proud of doing, it gets a little easier every day," he said.

The routine for crew members at sea consists of 12-hour shifts, with the rest of the time dedicated to meals, administrative work, fitness and sleep. A civilian from the personal support program is on board to organize fitness classes and activities that stave off boredom.

Every few weeks, the NATO ships stop in different ports, which means the crew can go ashore, and sometimes can get together with crews from different ships for sporting events and social activities.

"After a few weeks at sea we can go a little stir crazy but you always have that next port of call to look forward to," MacLean said.

Last June, the Fredericton and its previous crew made headlines when the vessel was shadowed by two Russian frigates during a visit by then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his wife, Laureen.

This time, MacLean says that although the crew has seen some Russian ships at sea, there have been only "standard, cordial encounters."

Nevertheless, he describes the eastern Mediterranean as a "busy spot."

"This part of the world is at a critical point in its history with the events in Syria, with the Russia's involvement and of course the human side of that are the refugees and migrants blowing across the land and using the sea as well," MacLean said. "So it's a very interesting place in the world right now."

He said the toughest part of deployment is the separation from friends and family, although technology has made it much easier to stay in touch by internet and phone.

The best part of being at sea, according to MacLean, is representing Canada on the global stage.

"You forge yourselves into a team over a few months and then you take that team to the far side of the world underneath the Canadians flag, and you get to show on a world stage what 260 well-trained, motivated, dedicated Canadians can do," he said. "It's amazing, it's an amazing experience."



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • COVID-19 limits possibilities for former prime minister John Turner's state funeral

    Canada News CBC News
    Planning for a state funeral for former prime minister John Turner is proceeding in the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, as his family and the government decide how to honour his public life while public events are restricted. Source
  • Mitt Romney's support strengthens Republican bid to move quickly on U.S. Supreme Court nominee

    World News CBC News
    Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney said Tuesday he supports voting to fill the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's seat on the Supreme Court, all but ensuring President Donald Trump has the backing needed to push the nomination over Democratic objections that it's too close to the November election. Source
  • Huge California wildfire threatening more than 1,000 homes

    World News CTV News
    LOS ANGELES -- A wildfire scorching its way through brush and timber from the mountains to the desert northeast of Los Angeles threatened more than 1,000 homes on Tuesday as crews across the West battled dozens of other major blazes. Source
  • Quebec reports 489 new cases of COVID-19 as hospitalizations increase by 20

    Canada News CTV News
    MONTREAL -- Quebec health authorities reported 489 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the total number of cases in the province since the start of the pandemic to 68,617. One more death has been recorded in Quebec for a total of 5,805. Source
  • Russia says world's largest nuclear icebreaker embarking on Arctic voyage

    World News CBC News
    A nuclear-powered icebreaker that Russia says is the world's largest and most powerful set off on Tuesday on a two-week journey to the Arctic as part of Moscow's efforts to tap the region's commercial potential. Known as "Arktika," the nuclear icebreaker left St. Source
  • Ottawa affirms Mi'kmaq treaty rights in Nova Scotia lobster dispute

    Canada News CTV News
    SAULNIERVILLE, N.S. -- The federal government is affirming the Mi'kmaq First Nation's treaty rights in an ongoing dispute with non-Indigenous fishermen in southwestern Nova Scotia. Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan and Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett released a statement Monday saying the Mi'kmaq have a constitutionally protected treaty right to fish in pursuit of a moderate livelihood. Source
  • Romney OKs voting on court nominee, all but assures approval

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah said Tuesday he supports voting to fill the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's seat on the Supreme Court, all but ensuring U.S. President Donald Trump has the backing to push his choice to confirmation over Democratic objections that it's too close to the November election. Source
  • Ontario reports highest number of new COVID-19 cases since early May

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- Ontario’s daily COVID-19 case count has risen to numbers unseen since the height of the pandemic in May when more than 500 cases were reported. Health officials reported 478 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Tuesday, which is the highest daily total since May 2 when 511 cases were confirmed. Source
  • Trudeau offers condolences to family of Toronto mosque stabbing victim

    Canada News CBC News
    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has offered condolences to the family of a volunteer caretaker who was stabbed to death at a Toronto mosque earlier this month — while also saying reports that the incident is connected to Neo-Nazism and Islamophobia are worrisome. Source
  • World leaders, including Trump and Putin, take the stage virtually at UN meeting

    World News CBC News
    The United Nation's first virtual meeting of world leaders started Tuesday with pre-recorded speeches from heads of state kept at home by the coronavirus pandemic that will likely be a dominant theme at their video gathering this year. Source