HMCS Ottawa achieved another milestone recently, successfully completing a layered missile engagement against a Hammerhead target while deployed on POSEIDON CUTLASS 17-1.
After many weeks of training, the exercise concluded with the launch of an Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) and engagements with the Bofors 57mm Mark III and 20mm close-in weapons system in an impressive display of firepower.
Conducted off the coast of Okinawa, Japan, a first for the Royal Canadian Navy, the trial was intended to demonstrate the capabilities of the ESSM when used in surface-to-air in surface-to-surface (SASS) mode against a small boat attack as might be experienced during asymmetric warfare.
The target for the event was provided by QinetiQ Target Systems Canada (formerly Meggitt), a Canadian company based out of Medicine Hat, Alta. Intended for destruction, these targets provide an outstanding opportunity for ships to exercise their skills while employing weapons systems to their full potential.
Preparations were extensive and undertaken over countless hours of training and study. From refining a checklist of actions by individual team members, to refining the optimal employment of weapons and sensors, and participating in increasingly complex training scenarios, the Operations Room worked on every detail to hone their operational skills and warrior spirit, not only to ensure the success of the shoot, but also to defend the ship against asymmetric threats such as small boats.
Although everything was well prepared by the time the Ottawa arrived on the range, Fire Control Operator, Leading Seaman Derek Urichuk, noted the anticipation in the Operations Room: “I couldn’t believe the nervous excitement that was felt throughout the ship as we all awaited the shoot.”
An early morning start saw the commencement of checklist items which culminated in a mid-morning action alarm energizing the ship to Action Stations.
Closing at high speed, the target was piloted towards Ottawa to simulate a small attack craft, triggering the above water warfare team to action. With the ship’s Surface Warfare Controller, Petty Officer 1st Class Eric Lemay, barking out orders, the team went through the layers of defensive weapons, from the missile engagement, quickly transitioning to the 57mm main gun, and finally an engagement with the close-in-weapons system, ultimately disabling the target and halting it from closing the ship any further.
When asked about witnessing the experience, the officer of the watch, Lieutenant (Navy) Stephan Oxley, remarked, “Participating in this exercise has been a highlight of my career - this is why I joined the navy!”
This exercise, combined with the previous missile shoot in March off the coast of San Diego, Calif., demonstrated the navy’s ability to conduct and support force generation overseas. Additionally, as part of the objectives of POSEIDON CUTLASS 17-1, ships were resupplied with missiles while alongside in Guam, and reloaded with targets in Malaysia. Building the knowledge and skills to accomplish these complex logistical tasks was also a key element of the navy’s goals for this deployment.
The extensive preparation and training led to a successful layered engagement for the RCN. It’s been one of the many highlights of HMCS Ottawa’s deployment as the team continues its mission in support of the maintenance of regional peace and security in the Indo-Asia Pacific, while also bolstering Canadian diplomatic engagement and defence relations.