Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Winnipeg returned to Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Esquimalt on February 23 after an eight-and-a-half month deployment and participation in two international exercises.
On Operation REASSURANCE, HMCS Winnipeg served with two Standing NATO Maritime Groups, supported NATO’s mission to build maritime situational awareness in the Mediterranean Sea, and participated in three successive multinational exercises, Exercises NORTHERN COAST, JOINT WARRIOR, and TRIDENT JUNCTURE, the largest NATO-led joint exercise in more than 20 years.
The second one was 2006-initiated Operation Caribbe, which is the Canadian Armed Forces contribution to the fight against illegal trafficking in the Caribbean Sea and the eastern Pacific Ocean.
During the ship’s transit back to Canada, HMCS Winnipeg conducted port visits in India, Malaysia, Singapore and Japan, in support of the Royal Canadian Navy’s global engagement strategy.
A port call in Japan is what brought the Canadian Navy ship the most attention as three of its crew were arrested for “use of a controlled substance”. Of the three persons arrested, one was a civilian employee while two were military members. The Tokyo police have released one military member while the other two persons were charged and are awaiting trial.
Canadian Navy officials, who were expected to shed more light on the event, had no update on the status of the two arrested sailors upon their return to Esquimalt, Canada.
Defence Minister Harjit S. Sajjan commented: “On behalf of the Government of Canada, and all Canadians, I proudly welcome home the crew of HMCS Winnipeg. The ship and its crew made a number of valuable contributions around the world during its lengthy time away from home and have helped raise Canada’s profile around the world by participating in a number of operations and multinational exercises.”
Rear-Admiral Gilles Couturier, Commander, Maritime Forces Pacific, said: “I am very proud to welcome HMCS Winnipeg and her crew home after a long and highly successful deployment. Winnipeg was the first modernized frigate to deploy from the Pacific Fleet and she executed each mission assigned to her during this extended deployment to a very high standard, directly contributing to international operations. This deployment and its achievements highlight the versatility of our Navy.”