Having only just begun their transit into the Arctic, HMCS HARRY DEWOLF (AOPV 430) has already received the opportunity to demonstrate her capabilities in this region. The ship and her crew participated in a mass rescue exercise in conjunction with Canadian and American Coast Guard vessels. The vessels that participated in the exercise were HMCS Harry DeWolf, USCGC Escanaba, USCGC Richard Snyder, and CCGS Pierre Radisson.
This event was a significant training opportunity that demonstrates international operability in a region where saving lives requires efficient execution and communication. This also gives the opportunity for the new vessel, Harry DeWolf, to demonstrate her advanced capabilities suited to the region.
The training scenario presented to the participants was a vessel in distress that was suffering from casualties and equipment failures which would culminate in a mass evacuation of the stricken vessel’s occupants. It was each ship’s responsibility to coordinate the rescue utilizing individual and cooperative assets to accomplish the mission. Vessels deployed small craft manned with search and rescue (SAR) personnel, medical personnel, and damage control equipment.
“Canada participates in a number of international organizational agreements and has agreed to adopt search and rescue (SAR) standards and practices in accordance with the Convention on International Civil Aviation, the International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue, and the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS),” said Cdr. Corey Gleason, Commanding Officer of HMCS HARRY DEWOLF. “Standardization is always a challenge and can only really be achieved by developing common SAR procedures and seek out ways to practice them in theatre. We do this through thoughtful exercises such as this, which serve to enhance co-ordination and develop mutual support in domestic and international operations at sea, land, and air.”
The exercise was also influenced by the still-present COVID environment. Personnel traveling to the vessel in distress were required to don facemasks in order to carry out the mission safely.
Harry DeWolf has many specific capabilities that allows her crew to be a vital asset while conducting rescue operations in this region. These include, but are not limited to rapidly deployable small boats rated to harsh environments, an embarked Medical Officer and embarked Physician’s Assistant, and cold weather equipment suited to the Arctic.
Harry DeWolf was designed for scenarios like the ones carried out during the exercise. The ship and her crew highlighted her tremendous potential and executed the exercise to plan. “It was great to showcase the raw capabilities of the platform” said Lt(N) Anders Mech, Deck Officer, “We were able to send over gear and personnel that allowed us to attend to the issues and help as much as necessary”. It was another powerful step forward in cooperative efforts in the Arctic for the Royal Canadian Navy looking toward the future.
Harry DeWolf departed Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, on August 3 for her maiden deployment. The crew is conducting a circumnavigation of North America through the Arctic in order to demonstrate the capabilities of the new vessel, promote interoperability, foster positive relationships with local communities, and establish a more resolute presence in the Northern Region.