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HMCS Fredericton north bound


Army.ca Fixture
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From the Ottawa Citizen:


Frigate sent to bolster sovereignty in the Arctic
Illegal Danish fishing targeted as dispute over island simmers
a journalist
The Ottawa Citizen

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

The Canadian government is upping the ante in its push to assert sovereignty in the Arctic by sending a frigate to clamp down on illegal fishing by ships from a Danish protectorate, the Citizen has learned.

Military officials have confirmed that HMCS Fredericton will leave Halifax tomorrow for a northern fisheries patrol that will last until the second week of September. The frigate, carrying officers from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, will operate mainly in the Davis Strait area with visits to Pond Inlet and Iqaluit, said navy spokesman Lt.-Cmdr. Ken MacKillop.

He did not have a list of countries suspected of illegal fishing in the area, but Lt.-Cmdr. MacKillop added, "I do know they need to go up there and see who's operating in the waters, take some surveillance and possibly intercept or board some vessels."

But Arctic specialist Rob Huebert, who was invited along on the patrol, said there have been ongoing problems with illegal fishing by ships from the Faroe Islands, a protectorate of Denmark.

"We've also had some problem with the Greenland fishers coming over on our side," said Mr. Huebert, a University of Calgary defence analyst. "That's what the Fredericton is all about, to check that out."

Canada is embroiled in a dispute with Denmark over Hans Island, between Greenland and Canada's Ellesmere Island.

The Hans Island dispute flared last month after Defence Minister Bill Graham visited the tiny barren island, prompting one Danish official to call the trip an "occupation."

A Danish patrol ship is now on its way to the region, but the Danish government has since decided to try to defuse the situation through diplomatic channels. The Danish ship's crew will not land on Hans Island to assert Denmark's sovereignty, but will instead pass nearby, Danish officials have said.

Lt.-Cmdr. MacKillop said HMCS Fredericton will not be in the vicinity of Hans Island. But he noted the frigate's fisheries patrol is important. "We haven't done one of those with a frigate for some time so it's of some significance," he added.

Fredericton's mission coincides with another naval patrol in the north. HMCS Glace Bay and HMCS Shawinigan, both coastal patrol vessels, will be operating in Hudson Bay and other northern locations. Military aircraft will also be involved in that mission.

Mr. Huebert said he applauds the government's increased efforts to assert control over Canada's northern waters and territories. In addition, he said the government's decision to re-emphasize Canadian claims to Hans Island is the right thing to do as it sends a message to the U.S., Russia and Denmark, all of which have disputes with Canada over Arctic territories. "It simply gives notice we're not going to be pushovers on this," he said.

Mr. Huebert said the possibility that global warming could open up the vast resources in the Arctic for exploitation by other countries has prompted the Canadian government to realize it needs an increased presence in the region.

Some in the Canadian Forces have repeatedly warned the federal government that the threat to Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic will increase as the world's appetite for fresh water, fish and other natural resources increases.

Mr. Huebert also noted there is a growing problem with illegal fishing for shrimp and turbot. As climate change occurs, turbot are moving farther and farther north, he said, and illegal fishers are following.

The northern region makes up 40 per cent of Canada's landmass, but the military's presence in the area has dwindled over the years. For most of the Cold War, the Canadian military excelled at Arctic operations and was considered a world leader in such capabilities. The slide in the military's Arctic skills began in the 1980s and continued on into the 1990s as defence priorities shifted to more international operations, according to the reports from Canadian Forces Northern Area. Most missions conducted by the military are now in desert, tropical or temperate climates.

Mr. Huebert said the navy's decision to devote scarce resources to northern patrols reflects the government's renewed interest in developing more of a presence in the Arctic.

An Arctic capability study produced in 2000 by the Defence Department determined that while there was no current military threat to the North, Canadian sovereignty could be threatened by unauthorized exploitation of resources, in particular on uninhabited Arctic islands.

Canadian navy planning documents looking at future threats facing Canada contain similar conclusions about the Arctic and the Northwest Passage. One scenario warns that other nations might send submarines through the passage to challenge Canada's ownership.

"By conducting undetected transits of areas under dispute, such as the Northwest Passage which by 2025 could be relatively ice free for significant portions of the year, (they could) then question Canada's claim to jurisdiction based on an inability to monitor or control the disputed waters," according to a 1999 navy study.

© The Ottawa Citizen 2005
Good to see, but these things are planned long enough in adavance that Hans Island probably wasn't the only factor.  Receiving less media attention is the fact that two Kingstons will be operating in the arctic at around the same time, and will be going far enough into Hudson Bay to actually make a stop at Churchill, Manitoba.
My next door neighbour is on HMCS Fredericton as we speak. The best of luck to you and your crew. Have a safe and happy return. See you when you get home


S.Bradbury & Family
this Hans Island stuff, happens every summer when the ice clears up.

Lets make a forward operating base in the Arctic (Iqualit) and have regular patrols with MCDV's from May til September.

Good training, presence and better than a bunch of MCDV's tied up in Halifax.