Department of National Defence

Department of National Defence

November 14, 2011 14:00 ET

Minister MacKay Congratulates Crews for Their Role in Multi-national Counter-drug Operation

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 14, 2011) - The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, congratulates the crews of Her Majesty's Canadian Ships St. John's, Athabaskan, Algonquin, and the submarine HMCS Corner Brook, and those of the ship-borne CH-124 Sea King helicopters and the CP-140 Aurora long-range patrol aircraft, for their outstanding contributions to Operation Caribbe.

"During the past three months, our Royal Canadian Navy and Royal Canadian Air Force crews have continued to provide crucial support to the law enforcement interdiction and counter-drug surveillance missions alongside our US and multinational allies on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts," said the Honourable Peter MacKay. "Their commitment to the ongoing efforts to suppress the illegal trafficking of drugs by sea is of great importance to our citizens in communities across North America."

Op Caribbe is the standing US-led multinational counter-drug surveillance and law enforcement interdiction operation in the international waters of the Caribbean Basin and Eastern Pacific.

"I am very proud of the close relationship our sailors and air crews have developed and maintain with our US Navy and US Coast Guard counterparts in keeping dangerous drugs off North American streets," said Lieutenant-General Walt Semianiw, Commander Canada Command. "At sea and in the air, their skills and professionalism are highly valued and serve to warn illegal drug traffickers that their activities are under constant surveillance by allied forces that share common values."

On August 27, HMCS Athabaskan departed Halifax followed by HMC Ships Algonquin and St. John's a few days later, to conduct combined operations with US Navy and US Coast Guard (USCG) on Op Caribbe. USCG Law Enforcement Detachments (LEDETS) comprising up to 10 officers sailed on board the Royal Canadian Navy ships. The LEDETS conducted boarding, searching and other law enforcement activities in international waters.

"Op Caribbe is just one example of how security of the maritime commons has emerged as a global issue, creating opportunities to partner at sea with other nations," said Vice-Admiral Paul Maddison, Commander Royal Canadian Navy. "I commend the crews of HMC Ships Athabaskan, Algonquin, St. John's, as well as the crew of the Victoria-class submarine, HMCS Corner Brook, for their meaningful contributions to an international operation that suppresses criminal activity at sea and keep illegal drugs off Canadian streets."

The Victoria-class submarine, HMCS Corner Brook, made significant contributions to the operation while the boat was transiting to the West coast this past summer. Corner Brook helped to interdict drug trafficking by monitoring and reporting vessels of interest.

Royal Canadian Air Force CP-140 Aurora detachments deployed to Curacao, El Salvador and Key West, Florida, to provide surveillance support to the mission. The watch over the Caribbean and eastern Pacific is vital for maintaining the recognized maritime picture of air, sea and semi-submersible illegal drug trafficking threats.

Op Caribbe missions are coordinated by the Joint Interagency Task Force South (JIATF South), a subordinate command of US Southern Command, based in Florida. During these joint operations, the command of the Canadian Forces assets and personnel remains under the command of Canada Command.

In Fiscal Year 2011, JIATF South documented 767 metric tonnes of cocaine departing South America and moving towards North America. Two hundred and one metric tonnes of cocaine were seized, either on the high seas or in the landmass of Mexico/Central America and the Caribbean. The wholesale value (based on Miami street price) is estimated at over US $4 Billion.

Op Caribbe highlights our government's commitment to international cooperation in the security and defence of North America. It is a recurring annual operation that directly supports Canada Command's mission to defend against threats and security challenges to Canada and North America and its approaches.

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