By Sub-Lieutenant M.X. Déry
Year 12 of Operation CARIBBE is set to begin with Her Majesty’s Canadian Ships Edmonton and Whitehorse leading the charge. The two ships left their home port of Esquimalt, B.C., on February 16, 2018.
Last year the Canadian Armed Forces contributed to the United States Coast Guard’s (USCG) seizing or disrupting approximately 11.5 metric tonnes of illicit drugs.
The Commanding Officer of Edmonton, Lieutenant-Commander Brian Henwood, is looking forward to heading south to conduct interdiction operations.
“This is a great opportunity to get over the horizon and to effect things down range,” he says.
LCdr Collin Forsberg, Commanding Officer of Whitehorse, agrees with him, saying the operation has a real impact on the people back home. “It is very rewarding working with the USCG. This is a mission that makes life better for Canadians.”
LCdr Forsberg has deployed twice before on this operation.
Recently, Rear-Admiral Art McDonald, Commander, Maritime Forces Pacific, spoke to media in San Diego, Calif., during the offload of cocaine seized in the last two months of operations in 2017.
“Just as today’s offload represents a part of the record almost 500,000 pounds that was interdicted in 2017, worth about $6.6 billion U.S., a part of today’s offload is also a direct involvement of Canadian participation.”
At the end of a ship’s deployment, the USCG tallies up the amount of drugs seized or disrupted by each ship and awards them with crossed out snowflakes to add to their bridge wings. The snowflakes serve to recognize hard work and instill a sense of pride in the ship’s company.
With a fresh paint job, Whitehorse departs home port with a bare bridge wing, while Edmonton proudly wears seven snowflakes earned on previous deployments.
The objectives of the upcoming mission are clear and there seems to be no hint of rivalry between the commanding officers.
“We are down there to support each other,” says LCdr Henwood. “One ship’s success is a success for the team.”