Search and Rescue (SAR) officials from the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) have returned home after a week of pitting themselves against harsh Arctic conditions in response to a simulated international maritime disaster. Search and Rescue Exercise (SAREX) Greenland Sea 13, which ran from September 2 to 6, was hosted for a second consecutive year by Denmark near Ella Island off Greenland’s east coast.
Through this intensive exercise, the Canadian Armed Forces have gained significant ground in addressing jurisdictional and logistical requirements in the event of a major Arctic incident,” said Major-General Christopher Coates, Deputy Commander Continental, Canadian Joint Operations Command, and senior CAF representative at the exercise. “Major international SAR operations require complex coordination, which is why opportunities like these are vital for strengthening our partnerships and enhancing our practices.”
SAREX Greenland Sea 13 recreated a maritime disaster and response scenario that involved four of the eight Arctic Council member states: Canada, Denmark, Iceland, and the United States. Canada’s contribution to the SAREX included one SAR CC-130 Hercules aircraft and approximately 30 CAF personnel.
“Last year was our first chance to discover the challenges of working with multiple countries in such a remote maritime environment,” said Master Warrant Officer Greg Smit, an exercise coordinator. “This year we overcame those challenges and demonstrated the ability to successfully work with our Arctic neighbours in response to a major SAR incident. These kinds of exercises put us in a much better position to respond to incidents in the North.”
SAR is a top priority for the CAF, which is capable of providing aeronautical and maritime SAR services in some of the most remote locations in the Arctic. The CAF are also committed to working with international partners to provide effective SAR responses in the most difficult of conditions and harshest of environments.
The Arctic Council is a high-level intergovernmental forum that addresses issues faced by the eight Arctic States (Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and United States) and its indigenous peoples. The Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada leads the Canadian delegation to the Arctic Council.
The CAF supports the Government of Canada’s interaction with the Arctic Council Nations through the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada, and in accordance with Canada’s Arctic Foreign Policy.
Press Release, September 10, 2013; Image: CAF