NATO SNMG2 ships conclude Black Sea deployment

The Turkish frigate Fatih and the Spanish frigate Juan de Borbon sail in formation with HMCS St. John’s as the ships transit to the Black Sea on February 1, 2017. Photo: Leading Seaman Ogle Henry

Royal Canadian Navy frigate HMCS St. John’s and Spanish frigate Almirante Juan de Borbon concluded their operations in the Black Sea and returned to the Mediterranean Sea to continue their deployment with NATO standing maritime group 2.

On January 31, 2017, the vessels transisted into the Black Sea where they would conduct a three-week deployment.

While there, they conducted exercise Sea Shield. HMCS St. John’s, which was recently upgraded, integrated seamlessly into a task group of Turkish, Bulgarian, Romanian, American and Spanish ships, aircraft and submarines.

The exercise had a variety of serials that worked every department on board St. John’s: manoeuvres, replenishment at sea approaches, combined anti-submarine and air defence exercises, maritime interdiction and vessel boarding, search and rescue of a stricken submarine, and communications via radio, flashing lights and flags.

“I am exceptionally proud of the officers and crew of this ship,” said Commander Sheldon Gillis, commanding officer of HMCS St. John’s. “After steaming 4500 nautical miles to the Black Sea and seamlessly integrating with units of Standing NATO Maritime Group 2, we proved to ourselves and to our allies that we are a first class navy, ready to demonstrate Canada’s commitment to our collective defence obligations.”

While in the region, the ships visited Istanbul, Constanta, Romania; Varna, Bulgaria; and Samsun, Turkey. These visits allowed crew members to meet sailors from other ships and learn about their cultures, and also to give back to the local communities: while alongside Constanta, 21 of St. John’s sailors volunteered at a local children’s shelter, demonstrating their commitment to community, even when 4500 nautical miles away from their own homes.

On February 20, 2017, HMCS St. John’s, together with ESPS Almirante Juan de Borbon, left the Black Sea to carry on its seven-month deployment in the Mediterranean.

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