Canadian Navy ships join Phoenix Express drill in Africa for first time

Ships from the Royal Canadian navy made their Phoenix Express debut as they joined the exercise on March 29.

The 15th edition of the training event kicked off in the western Mediterranean Sea, in and around the territorial waters of various North African countries.

For the next week, they worked cooperatively to enhance their responses to trafficking, irregular migration, the transport of illegal goods, and other threats to regional stability.

Joining them for the first time for this year’s operations: warships of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN).

Well into their Operation Projection deployment in Africa, Her Majesty’s Canadian ships Kingston and Shawinigan joined a team of liaison officers to form Canada’s contribution to the multinational initiative.

Phoenix Express requires ships to conduct frequent maritime interdiction and boarding operations, where participating navies stop suspicious vessels and send teams to verify if criminal activity is occurring onboard.

In order to maximize training value for all participants, Kingston and Shawinigan acted as dedicated target vessels, freeing up local ships to focus on honing their skills.

“We’re very happy to see Canadian ships here for the first time,” said Royal Moroccan Navy Captain Chaouni while addressing participants during a pre-sail conference.

After a week at sea, the exercise ended with groups of ships sailing together through the Straits of Gibraltar and back to Casablanca.

“Phoenix Express was our second major multinational training engagement in the span of a few weeks,” Shawinigan’s commanding officer, Lieutenant Commander Teri Share, explained, referencing Obangame Express, which the ships had recently participated in.

“As we begin our transit back to Halifax, I think we can all be proud of the contribution we’ve made to maritime security in both Western and Northern Africa, and of the relationships we’ve fostered in the region.”

Kingston and Shawinigan are now enroute back to home port, where they will officially conclude Operation Projection West Africa 2019.