Commander speaks about Operation Nanook

Ashley Fitzpatrick
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Cmdr. Douglas Campbell speaks to members of the Rotary Club of St. John’s about sailing the Arctic and conducting Operation Nanook, a Canadian Forces training operation, in 2012. — Photo by Ashley Fitzpatrick/The Telegram

Members of the Rotary Club of St. John’s were treated to tales of the high seas during their latest luncheon, by guest speaker Cmdr. Douglas Campbell.

Campbell took command of HMCS St. John’s, based in Halifax, in 2012. He then led the crew during its key role in Operation Nanook, an annual Arctic military training exercise.

Operation Nanook 2013 will soon be  underway, with new challenges for those involved.

In 2012, the operation included the Canadian Coast Guard, the air force, RCMP and even a warship from the Danish navy, with HMCS St. John’s involved over the course of about 30 days.

Whatever test scenario is thrown out, the idea is simple: “We work together to solve the problem,” Campbell said.

“Solving a problem up there is a huge challenge.”

In addition to communications within and between governments, the idea is to test and maintain navigational skills and capabilities in the midst of waters increasingly blanketed by ice breaking away from melting glaciers.

Campbell said, in 2012, HMCS St. John’s left Halifax, stopped in its namesake port and went on to Churchill, Manitoba. “Total distance steamed was just shy of 6,000 nautical miles,” he said.

Before returning, the crew was tasked, among other things, with engaging a “vessel of interest” and responding to a request for military assistance.

Operation Nanook has been conducted each year since 2007 and is the largest of three annual “sovereignty operations” in Northern Canada.

In 2013, participation in the training is expected to, once again, reach more than 1,000 personnel from the Royal Canadian Navy, the Royal Canadian Air Force, and the Canadian Army, including the Canadian Rangers.

This year, scenarios are expected to include: a call for disaster relief in the Yukon; a request for assistance from Environment Canada in relation to poaching on Cornwallis Island, Nunavut; an investigation of suspicious activity on Resolution Island and a patrol by Canadian Rangers relating to activity in the Northwest Passage.

Organizations: Rotary Club, Canadian Coast Guard, RCMP Royal Canadian Navy Canadian Air Force Canadian Army Environment Canada

Geographic location: Halifax, Arctic, Manitoba Northern Canada Yukon Cornwallis Island Nunavut Resolution Island Northwest Passage.afitzpatrick

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