Department of National Defence

Department of National Defence

March 27, 2009 11:14 ET

Government of Canada Tasks HMCS Winnipeg to NATO Fleet

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 27, 2009) - The Government of Canada today announced that Her Majesty's Canadian Ship (HMCS) Winnipeg will be the fifth Canadian ship since 2006 to join the Standing NATO Maritime Group1 (SNMG1), this time in the Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. SNMG1 is a multinational, integrated maritime force consisting of vessels from the various Alliance nations, training and operating together as a single team.

HMCS Winnipeg's first mission will be to support Operation Allied Protector, the NATO approved plan for the deployment of SNMG1 vessels to conduct counter-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia. The ship will be part of a naval group consisting of five vessels from Canada, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and the United States. The frigate NRP Corte Real, of Portugal is the flagship of the fleet.

"The security challenges facing Canada are real and globalization means that developments abroad can have a profound impact on the safety and interests of Canadians here," said Defence Minister Peter Gordon MacKay. "Canada's participation in this maritime force is another example of our government's continuing commitment to international peace and security, which also enhances the security of Canada and Canadians at home and abroad."

HMCS Winnipeg's deployment with SNMG1, conducted under Operation SEXTANT, gives Canada an opportunity to join a flexible, responsive international force, ready to execute any number of missions across a broad spectrum that includes exercises, crisis response, and maritime security operations. During this deployment, HMCS Winnipeg will also conduct diplomatic calls in several Asia-Pacific countries.

"I'm proud of our sailors and Air Force personnel of HMCS Winnipeg for their dedication to this important operation as well as the sacrifice they and their families are making," said General Walter Natynczyk, Chief of the Defence Staff. "Piracy and terrorist attacks currently occurring across the world demonstrate how instability in distant lands and merchant sea-lanes can directly affect our own security and that of our allies. HMCS Winnipeg's deployment demonstrates Canada's willingness, along with our coalition partners, to continue to fight international terrorism and make the maritime environment safe and secure for all."

Commanded by Commander Craig Baines with a crew of approximately 240 officers and non-commissioned members, HMCS Winnipeg, 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.

Note to news and assignment editors:

For more information on Operation SEXTANT, visit http://www.cefcom-comfec.forces.gc.ca/pa-ap/ops/sextant/index-eng.asp

For still and video imagery of Canadian naval vessels at work, visit www.combatcamera.forces.gc.ca.

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