The Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) Kingston-class coastal defence vessels HMCS Summerside (MM 711) and HMCS Kingston (MM 700) is currently undertaking a three-month deployment to the Gulf of Guinea region in West Africa.
The trip will see the two vessels, which departed Halifax on January 26, 2018, work alongside more than 20 African countries as part of the American-led OBANGAME EXPRESS 2018 exercise, in addition to community and humanitarian-minded port visits to nations including Ghana, Nigeria, Cape Verde, Senegal, Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire.
Working toward that cooperation and interoperability began before the ships even left port, with two exchange officers, one from Ghana and one from Côte d’Ivoire, arriving shortly before the deployment to accompany the ships as they make their crossing.
OBANGAME EXPRESS 2018, one of the largest components of the deployment, is an at-sea exercise designed to improve relationships among participants and increase maritime safety and security in the Gulf of Guinea. The focus is on maritime interdiction techniques including boarding, searches and seizures, and for that reason the ships sailed with embarked personnel from the Maritime Tactical Operations Group to showcase the navy’s enhanced naval boarding party capability.
The deployment follows the NEPTUNE TRIDENT 17-01 mission that saw Summerside and Moncton sail to the region in the winter of 2017. Objectives were similar, with the OBANGAME EXPRESS exercise, training with partner navies and coast guards, and community visits forming the bulk of the trip. Though Summerside is participating again, it sailed with a different crew last year, and only a handful of sailors from the 2017 deployment were tapped to sail to the region again.
Royal Canadian Navy (RCN)