I had been aware in late March that there was a Canadian forces operation taking place – mostly while I was away for a couple of weeks break – but it was only after I got back and saw all the activity going on that I realised what a big deal it was. It was also highlighted at the community event that I wrote about in my last posting and there were many of the military personnel in attendance that evening too. The operation officially ends today.
Here are excerpts from the official web site of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) – a bit of a read but I would encourage you to go through it ! I was interested to learn about the concerns of sovereignty given the renewed Russian aggression; and that climate change is “opening” up the North more to mining exploration and shipping with attendant problems of the likelihood of more accidents and criminal activities like human trafficking. Also amazing to read about the increase in air traffic over the region.
Open Quote : Operation NUNALIVUT is a sovereignty operation conducted annually since 2007 in Canada’s North. It provides an opportunity for the CAF to:
- assert Canada’s sovereignty over its northernmost regions;
- demonstrate the ability to operate in the harsh winter environment in remote areas of the High Arctic; and
- enhance its capability to respond to any emergency situation in the Canada’s North such as an aircraft accident.
It also allows the CAF to provide meaningful support to scientific research in the Arctic, and to demonstrate interoperability in the High Arctic with military allies and other Canadian government institutions.
Commanded by Joint Task Force (North) and deploying over 200 personnel from across Canada; Op NU 15 incorporates soldiers from the Third Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (3 PPCLI), Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) divers from both Pacific and Atlantic fleets; and airmen and airwomen from across the Royal Canadian Air Force, including Yellowknife-based 440 (Transport) Squadron. Elements of the 109th Air Squadron, United States Air National Guard are also participating
Throughout this operation, the Canadian Rangers from 1 Canadian Ranger Patrol Group (1 CRPG) will guide and mentor southern troops and provide predator control to deployed elements. JTFN’s operations provide a unique opportunity for our allies, our partners and for each element of the CAF to practice specialized arctic skill sets.
Op NU 15 will be conducted with three distinct lines of operation. 1 CRPG will conduct a sovereignty patrol in the Victoria Island area and 3 PPCLI will conduct two separate patrols running east of Cambridge Bay. Due to the challenging nature of the arctic environment, the primary means of transportation for both patrols will be snowmobiles, which can traverse the often difficult sea ice formations.
Joint Ice Diving operations between Parks Canada’s underwater archeologists and RCN divers will also be conducted on the sea ice in the vicinity of Victoria Strait. Ice diving operations will include a joint archeological effort over the site of the HMS Erebus.
The Arctic is known to have vast reserves of fossil fuels and an abundance of minerals, including gold and diamonds, and is increasingly accessible due to climate change. Consequently, this region is attracting more and more Canadian and international attention.
Because climate change is gradually eroding the Arctic icecap, the waters of the Arctic Archipelago are more navigable every year and more ships enter the region. Air traffic in the North is also growing; the annual total of flights on polar routes in Canadian airspace increased from fewer than 1,000 in 2003 to almost 10,000 in 2010.
The increase in traffic at sea and in the air, and the escalating exploitation of natural resources in the North, boost the risk of sovereignty challenges, environmental problems, accidents giving rise to search-and-rescue requirements, and criminal activity, especially illicit entry of people and goods. End quote.
These photos were gleaned off the Canadian Armed Forces web site and show the activities related to the dive on the wreck of HMS Erebus. All the photos were taken by Master Seaman Peter Reed, Formation Imaging Services, Halifax