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August 10, 2022 | Local, Naval

With resources stretched, Canadian navy warships out of NATO forces for first time since 2014

Experts say it's part of the growing trade-offs Canada is having to make with its navy, which has a shrinking fleet of aging ships and a lack of trained sailors

On the same subject

  • Feds should create a new, single entity Defence Procurement Canada

    June 2, 2022 | Local, Aerospace, Naval, Land, C4ISR, Security

    Feds should create a new, single entity Defence Procurement Canada

  • Canadian military to take part in world's largest maritime exercise as navies struggle to deal with COVID-19

    May 12, 2020 | Local, Naval

    Canadian military to take part in world's largest maritime exercise as navies struggle to deal with COVID-19

    David Pugliese • Ottawa Citizen The Canadian military plans to take part in the world's largest maritime exercise this summer even as the U.S. Navy, which is hosting the event, struggles to deal with coronavirus outbreaks that have sent two of its ships back to port. There have also been COVID-19 outbreaks on French, Belgium and Taiwanese navy ships. There are COVID-19 cases among the crews of 26 U.S. Navy ships. But that won't stop the U.S. from holding its Rim of the Pacific or RIMPAC exercise in August. The Canadian Forces is planning to attend although military officials haven't outlined yet which Canadian ships and aircraft will take part. “The Canadian Armed Forces remains committed to participating in the Rim of the Pacific Exercise 2020 in a significant way in order to maximize the unique training opportunities this biennial exercise provides as well as strengthen relationships with allies and partners in the Pacific,” Department of National Defence spokesperson Jessica Lamirande said in an email. She said Canadian military officials are in discussions with their U.S. counterparts and are “currently evaluating options to adapt our participation accordingly.” “Participation in RIMPAC will balance the requirement to complete critical tasks and high readiness training in support of planned operations, with the requirement to protect the health and safety of our personnel,” added Lamirande. RIMPAC is usually held in and around Hawaii. In 2018 the Canadian Forces sent more than 1,000 personnel, five ships and a patrol aircraft. They operated alongside approximately 25,000 military personnel from 24 other nations as well as more than 200 aircraft and 50 ships and submarines. The U.S. military says changes will be made to RIMPAC and that on-shore interactions will be limited. Ships can go into the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii for supplies, but the number of staff ashore for support functions will be limited. The U.S. Navy has the highest rate of COVID-19 in the U.S. military. There are 2,125 cases in the navy, with around 800 linked to the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt. The Canadian military does not release statistics on how many of its members have been infected with the virus. It cites security reasons for keeping such details secret. The Royal Canadian Navy has implemented a number of measures to deal with COVID-19, including trying to practise physical distancing on ships as much as possible and restricting shore leave. The pandemic has also prompted changes in other Canadian Forces operations. The military has scaled back the number of soldiers it is sending to Ukraine to conduct training there. It had planned to send a new group of soldiers, numbering 200, to relieve the Canadian troops now in Ukraine. That number will now be cut back to 60 personnel. The pandemic caused the cancellation of Exercise Maple Resolve, the army's main training event for the year, as well as a naval exercise off the coast of Africa. HMCS Glace Bay and HMCS Shawinigan, which were to take part in that naval training, were ordered to return to Halifax. HMCS Nanaimo and HMCS Whitehorse also cut short their participation in U.S.-led counter-drug operations. In addition, the Canadian Forces withdrew many of its troops assigned to the Iraq mission, ordering them home because COVID-19 has hindered training of Iraqi military personnel. The Canadian military has also pulled back its commitment of a transport aircraft for the United Nations because of COVID-19. The Department of National Defence, however, says it will not change the Canadian commitment to NATO's enhanced Forward Presence in Latvia. A new group of Canadian military personnel arrived in Latvia in January and will stay there until July. There are around 540 Canadian soldiers working in Latvia. In addition, the Canadian military hopes to take incremental steps to restart training of recruits as early as June.

  • Preparing to ditch — a new way of training for helicopter emergencies

    March 15, 2019 | Local, Aerospace

    Preparing to ditch — a new way of training for helicopter emergencies

    Jane Adey · CBC News Imagine you're an offshore worker on a helicopter flying to an oil platform and you hear the words "prepare to ditch" from your pilot. Adrenalin surges through your body as you raise your arms across your chest and assume the brace position. But will you remember what to do? Will panic take over? A St. John's company is working with the Marine Institute to help offshore workers become more comfortable in the air and better prepared for emergencies. Brainstorming a solution Ten years ago, in the days after the crash of Cougar 491, Anthony Patterson began thinking about how to improve safety in the offshore. His company, Virtual Marine, was in the early days of developing simulators for lifeboat training in the water. But Patterson, whose team specialized in marine simulations, knew his company had some technologies that could apply to the air. "We brainstormed on how we could create a better training experience," said Patterson, and they developed a small helicopter simulator. "We're very good at modeling boats in the water and then even the helicopter floating in the water, but the part about the helicopter flying through the air, of course, we had no expertise with that whatsoever," said Patterson. That's when Cougar Helicopters got on board. Virtual Marine brought its helicopter simulator to the lead pilots at the company. With the simulator, they flew the different kinds of manoeuvres they'd use if they had to ditch at sea. The simulator collected the data. and Virtual Marine embedded it into their simulation system to create the flight paths in an emergency. The simulator consists of a large box made to look like exactly like the inside of a helicopter. A motion bed, attached to the underside and controlled by a computer, allows workers to feel the same kind of movement as they would during a flight. The seatbelts are the same, the windows are the same and the views out the windows are the same as they would be in real life. It's important that the simulator be as realistic as possible for Liz Sanli, a researcher in ocean safety at the Marine Institute with expertise in skill learning over time. She's focused on how workers learn and how much they retain when asked to perform a task again at a later date. "So we're looking at how we can train during practice to help them remember all those steps when they're in a stressful situation down the road," said Sanli. Right now, workers are trained in a swimming pool on how to escape a helicopter submerged in water but training for the actual flight occurs in a classroom. By sitting inside a helicopter flight simulator, Sanli says, the workers' experience is more accurate. "You're getting that experience of physically doing the task so you get to go through the steps you get to experience them you can sometimes experience mistakes in a safe environment and learn from those mistakes rather than just watching somebody else do it, for example," said Sanli. "You also can simulate some of the feelings, so you can hear the sounds, you know that you're in a different environment and that can better match some of the more advanced training or perhaps even a real emergency." Sanli measures anxiety levels of participants and follows how well the protocol sequence is followed under a variety of conditions. She monitors what happens when trainees are seated in different positions and when they train in light and in darkness, getting as much information as possible to make training efficient and effective. "It's a big responsibility to have this evidence to make decisions when it comes to regulations, when it comes to decisions about training to have it based in evidence. It's safety that's at stake," said Sanli. For now, research on the simulator continues with hopes it will soon augment the training done by offshore workers. Patterson,says ten years after 17 lives were lost in the offshore, he's glad to have contributed what he could to try and make the industry safer. "This really was something that was more than a job," he said. "It was something that we had to do, to do our part to bring safety to the community. Everybody in the company, we all worked extra hours. I'd say this is the one that all of our engineers have the most pride in, accomplishing this task."

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