The crew of Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Calgary has returned to home waters after a month-long deployment to Southern California – but they won’t be coming alongside right away. First, they will be in the Strait of Juan de Fuca training with a CH-148 Cyclone helicopter.
Halifax-class frigates are required to complete Ship Without Air Detachment training roughly every six months. This qualification allows the ship’s crew to conduct helicopter operations when there is no Royal Canadian Air Force detachment embarked.
“It’s a collaboration of members from different trades and elements all working together,” says Chief Petty Officer 2nd Class Mark Stevens, who runs Calgary’s Deck Department. “Training will not just involve the deck crew. There are a lot of moving parts going on with landing a helicopter, which includes the Ops Room, Bridge, LSO (Landing Signal Officer) and FLYCO (Flying Coordinator).”
The exercise provides the ship’s company training to perform helicopter landings, personnel transfers, supply transfers and refueling operations.
CPO2 Stevens says sailors need to keep these skills refined because there are times while deployed when they need to interact with helicopters from other nations, as was the case last year during their Operation PROJECTION deployment in the Asia-Pacific region.
“We worked with helicopters of navies from all around the world and it was our sailors doing those helicopter operations. It’s really important to get everything perfect,” he says.
Calgary returned from that deployment just before Christmas but was deployed back to sea in early January to assist the United States Navy in readying three warships for a NATO deployment to the South China Sea, the Middle East and the Atlantic.