New security unit to protect Canadian Navy ships on deployment

The Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) is developing a new capability called the Naval Security Team (NST) that will be tasked with protecting Canadian Navy ships and sailors while on deployment.

According to the navy, NST will be composed primarily of naval reservists and will include a full-time command team to ensure personnel, training and equipment are available for deployment.

“The NST starts with a command and support cell, and then has other teams attached like Lego blocks as the mission dictates,” Commander Jeffrey White, Officer-in-Charge of the NST concept explained. “These attached layers will include a security or ‘force protection’ section, a tactical boat section, a mobile repair team and intelligence support.”

The team’s task will include port force protection and host nation liaison, along with support and intelligence requirements in foreign ports.

After selection, the team of approximately 30 to 50 personnel will be trained to meet specific mission requirements. For most force protection missions, this will include use of force, rules of engagement training, more advanced weapons training, small boat tactics, communications, deployed logistics and liaison skills.

Cdr White said that the force protection burden placed on a ship’s company when deployed can be challenging to maintain over time and reduces the availability of personnel to support other tasks, such as maintenance.

During the recent Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise, a small group of naval reservists was embedded with a U.S. Navy (USN) team similar to the NST called Coastal Riverine Squadron 1, to learn about its operations. These squadrons, part of the USN Expeditionary Combat Command, provide layered defense for ships at home and in foreign waters.

The inaugural NST is scheduled to be deployed in the Spring/Summer of 2017 to support ships as part of Westploy, an operation aimed at building strong ties between the RCN and the navies of Asia-Pacific countries, while also promoting peace and security in the Pacific region.