Nearly Defenseless MCDVs in Dangerous African Waters

HMC Ships Kingston and Shawinigan, both Maritime Coastal Defence Vessels (MCDVs), are set to arrive in Abidjan 23 February after a stop in an unannounced stop in Senegal on the 18th. The ships departed from Halifax in January 2019 and have now completed their trans-Atlantic crossing, arriving in the Gulf of Guinea region of West Africa to conduct Operation PROJECTION West Africa.

Their deployment will include engagements with West African nations to build partner capacity, promote maritime security, and foster relationships in the Gulf of Guinea region by conducting stakeholder engagements and community relations activities.

Kingston and Shawinigan are only fitted with small arms and would be unable to stop an Islamic suicide attack on the ships. In addition, the Gulf of Guinea is one of the most dangerous regions for piracy in the world. If these ships are to be retained, they should at least be fitted with the same MK38 25mm mounting being fitted on Harry Dewolf Class ships.

While deployed, HMCS Kingston and Shawinigan, a detachment of personnel from the Naval Tactical Operations Group (NTOG), and a Maritime Operations Center (MOC) mentorship team will also participate in OBANGAME EXPRESS 2019 (OE19) from 9 to 22 March, 2019. Led by U.S. Naval Forces Africa (NAVAF), OE19 is designed to improve cooperation among participating nations in order to increase maritime safety and security in the Gulf of Guinea. The NTOG will work with regional partners to build partner capacity for maritime interdiction operations.

As well, from 31 March to 4 April, 2019, the ships will participate in PHOENIX EXPRESS (PE19), along with a MOC mentorship team. The engagement is designed to improve regional cooperation, increase maritime domain awareness, information-sharing practices, and operational capabilities in order to enhance efforts to promote safety and security in the Mediterranean Sea.

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