HMCS Winnipeg Conducts ASW Training at RIMPAC

HMCS Winnipeg recently participated in anti-submarine warfare training off the coast of Hawaii as part of Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2022 in the Barking Sands Underwater Range off the coast off Hawaii. The operations team had the opportunity to detect, track, and fire torpedoes at an ‘enemy’ submarine.

“Our operators undergo years of specialized training to gain proficiency in submarine detection,” said Royal Canadian Navy Lieutenant Andrew Chong, Underwater Warfare Officer. “They have studied and practiced through training exercises and simulations, but that can only take you so far. The ability to train with real submarines live at sea just cannot be replicated so these are important opportunities to put our skills to the test.”

Tracking a submarine takes focus and patience.

During the recent Combined Anti-Submarine Warfare Exercise (CASEX), with a United States Navy submarine playing the part of the ‘enemy’ sub, the sonar operators’ (Ops) focus and patience was put to the test.

When intelligence indicated an ‘enemy’ submarine in the area, the ship employed all underwater sensors in an effort to locate the sub, including the towed array sonar, hull mounted sonar, and launching Guardian, the CH-148 Cyclone helicopter. Once those measures were taken, the ops manned their consoles and monitored incoming information, both audio and visual. Their training and skill sets were put to the test as they tried to find the indicators of a submarine in all the oceanic noises.

In this particular exercise, the first hit was made by the most junior member of the sonar team, Sailor 3rd Class Mohammad Hamaad Kazmi.

“This was the first opportunity to implement my training in real time,” said Kazmi. “I felt pretty good when I found it. The contact was pretty faint, but I told my supervisor and the team tracked it for a few minutes. Everyone worked to determine what it was and we concluded it was, in fact, a submarine.”

With the contact confirmed, the ship maintained contact at the greatest possible distance, and the coordinates of the submarine were relayed to the helicopter via the shipborne air controller. The helo then moved to that area and dipped their sonar in an attempt to pinpoint the exact location of the sub.

At this point, with both the ship and helo having located the sub, this is when torpedoes would come into play during a real combat situation. However, for the exercise, voice contact was made via the underwater telephone to inform the sub’s crew they had been found. The sub then surfaced briefly before submerging again to begin another training run.

“I am incredibly proud of my team in how they worked together to detect, identify and track all the submarines we are working with,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Jonathan Rielly, Underwater Warfare Director.

Training for the torpedo counter-firing happened two days later, during a TORPEX, or torpedo exercise. As in the CASEX, the sonar ops worked with the ship’s helo to determine the precise location of the submarine. This time there were two CH-148 helicopters participating, Guardian and Canuck from HMCS Vancouver. With three assets working together, the team located the submarine quickly, and the submarine fired an exercise torpedo at HMCS Winnipeg. The ship counter-fired their torpedo and began evasive maneuvers. Guardian also dropped its torpedo in defense of the ship. The exercise was repeated in the afternoon, culminating in the successful launching of four exercise torpedoes.

The torpedoes used for this training serial were MK-46 exercise torpedoes. Exercise torpedoes have no warhead and are not fully fueled; when they reach the end of their propellant, they float to the surface where they are picked up by range safety personnel.

The ability to detect, track and hunt enemy submarines is vital for RCN frigates, as it provides the ship’s commanding officer the ability to address underwater threats while maintaining a safe distance. With the detection of the submarine, and the successful launching of torpedoes, the CASEX and TORPEX proved the capability of both the ship, the crew and the air detachment to work as a competent and effective team.

RIMPAC provides a unique and invaluable training opportunity for the Royal Canadian Navy. It supports advanced team training in a complex, multinational maritime environment and is an opportunity to prove high-level combat capabilities through live-fire exercises using world-class weapon ranges.

Twenty-six nations, 38 ships, three submarines, more than 170 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in RIMPAC from June 29 to Aug. 4 in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California. The world’s largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity while fostering and sustaining cooperative relationships among participants critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s oceans. RIMPAC 2022 is the 28th exercise in the series that began in 1971.

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