By Lieutenant (Navy) Adam Ness
Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Regina has transited the Indian Ocean and is now supporting Operation Artemis, Canada’s contribution to Combined Task Force 150, responsible for tracking, boarding and interdicting the trade of narcotics and other illegal cargo being smuggled around the African coast and Middle East.
Recently, Regina conducted multi-element training with its embarked CH-148 Cyclone helicopter (call sign Bronco), the embedded Naval Tactical Operations Group (NTOG), and all levels of the ship’s defensive capabilities in one combined awesome day of warfare gunnery, otherwise known as Operation Big Dawg.
These serials are common within the Royal Canadian Navy to ensure proficiency and maintain the ship’s combat readiness. This serial was unique, however, as it was the first time all the deployed assets aboard Regina were used in one large layered defence exercise against a single threat: a remote-controlled target called a Hammerhead, simulating a fast inshore attack craft threat.
The day was broken down into three phases. The first was to train the bridge teams in warning operations and the use of force under the direction of NTOG. They trained in distance appreciation, the use of the bridge warning organization, and the employment of .50 calibre heavy machine gun warning shots against a fast craft threat.
The second phase included the use of the Cyclone and its C-6 machine gun to deter and conduct more warning shots against the threat.
The third and final phase was the biggest event of the day: the use of Regina’s main armament, the 57mm gun, to engage and ultimately stop the inbound threat.
During the final run, the Hammerhead once again began to close the ship. The bridge issued warnings, yet it continued to close. This is when the 57mm gun fired at the Hammerhead.
As the target continued to close the ship, the 57mm gun engaged it again. If this was not a training serial, the fast inshore attack craft would have been stopped by this point. However, for the serial it continued to close the ship and Regina’s layered defence continued. Once it reached 500 yards, the NTOG team and the underway force protection component prosecuted the threat from the upper decks with small arms, along with the bridge .50 calibre heavy machine gun teams.
Finally disabled and bullet-ridden, the Hammerhead slowly sunk, allowing members of NTOG, the ship’s .50 calibre teams and the Cyclone to use the opportunity for extra target practice. The serial finally ended when the Hammerhead slipped beneath the waves.
Ultimately, the day was a resounding success and validated the skills of all personnel. This intricate training serial reaffirmed Regina’s unofficial motto of “Three Three Four, Ready for War”, proving that the ship and crew are ready for their mission.