Saturday, September 03, 2005

Canadian Navy Deploys to Gulf

(HMCS Toronto as deployed in the Arabian Sea in 2000 during Operation Apollo, as part of Canada's contribution to the fight against international terrorism.)

Last Updated Fri, 02 Sep 2005 18:20:41 EDT
CBC News

Three Canadian warships, a coast guard vessel and three Sea King helicopters will be sent to Louisiana on Tuesday with relief supplies for the U.S. Gulf Coast.

The Canadian Coast Guard Ship Sir William Alexander will sail along with the Canadian Navy vessels, HMCS Athabaskan, HMCS Ville De Quebec and HMCS Toronto. Naval crews were busy loading gear on to the ships in Halifax Friday as 1,000 personnel prepared to head to waters off New Orleans.

Commodore Dean McFadden, who will command the deployment, said they were consulting with their American counterparts to determine what they will do during the expected month-long mission. He suggested duties would involve reconstruction, health care and humanitarian aid.

"We will have the capacity to move people. We'll have the capacity to bring medical supplies and fuel capabilities," McFadden said as he stood on the dock next to destroyer HMCS Athabaskan, the command and control ship for the mission. "The specific jobs we're going to do, I'll wait until the Americans tell us what help they need."

The vessels will work with the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard and carry Canadian Forces personnel, some of them military engineers who might be able to help restore power and generate electricity.

About 40 navy divers from both coasts were also expected to deploy with the mission, which got clearance after American officials accepted a Canadian offer of help.

Rear Admiral Dan McNeil of the Joint Task Force Atlantic said organizers of the mission, dubbed Operation Union, were compiling a list of what's needed as U.S. officials continued to assess their requirements. The ships are expected to arrive in the Gulf of Mexico three to four days after they leave Halifax.


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