Department of National Defence

Department of National Defence

April 05, 2009 00:58 ET

Canadian Warship Thwarts Pirate Attack

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - April 5, 2009) - HMCS Winnipeg, currently deployed in a NATO led counter-piracy mission known as Operation Allied Protector, thwarted a pirate attack of a merchant vessel in the Arabian Sea.

While engaging in naval escort duties Winnipeg observed several small skiffs approaching the Motor Vessel (MV) Pacific Opal. MV Pacific Opal radioed for assistance. In response, Commander Craig Baines, commanding officer of HMCS Winnipeg, ordered the immediate launch of the ship's Sea King helicopter to investigate.

Winnipeg's helicopter arrived on-scene putting itself between the vessel in distress and the pirate skiffs. The pirates pulled back and withdrew. The aircraft's pilot Major James Hawthorne said, "Whatever their intentions were they complied with our instructions and allowed the merchant vessel to proceed."

"I want to express how proud I am of HMCS Winnipeg's actions today. This highlights the importance of our mission and the efforts to make a difference with our coalition partners in the fight against piracy and international terrorism," said Lieutenant-General Michel Gauthier, Commander of Canadian Expeditionary Force Command. "I'm proud of what Commander Baines and his crew have accomplished and appreciate their dedication to this important operation as well as the personal sacrifice that HMCS Winnipeg's families are making."

HMCS Winnipeg with a crew of approximately 240 officers and non-commissioned members, based at Esquimalt, B.C., and her CH-124 Sea King detachment, form a highly ready and technologically advanced warship. The ship, helicopter and crew are capable of performing a variety of missions worldwide.

HMCS Winnipeg's commanding officer will be available for interviews.

For more information on Operation SEXTANT, visit

For information on HMCS Winnipeg's mission visit:

For information on the NATO Response Force, visit:

For HMCS Winnipeg mission photos visit the Combat Camera website at

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