By Ryan Melanson
Her Majesty’s Canadian Ships Summerside and Kingston left the winter weather behind as they departed Halifax on January 26, 2018 for a three-month deployment to the Gulf of Guinea region in West Africa.
The trip will see the two maritime costal defence vessels work alongside more than 20 African countries as part of the American-led OBANGAME EXPRESS 2018 exercise, in addition to community and humanitarian-minded port visits to nations including Ghana, Nigeria, Cape Verde, Senegal, Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire.
“It’s a bit of a cold, grey day, which might reflect the mood of some of the families here today, with these two very capable crews getting ready to leave us for three months,” said Commodore Craig Skjerpen, Commander Canadian Fleet Atlantic, speaking to a group of sailors and families prior to departure.
“But this is going to be an opportunity to share ideas about the maritime environment and about maritime cooperation, as they continue to expand the control of their exclusive economic zone in that West African region, and an opportunity for us to grow important relationships with our partner nations.”
Working toward that cooperation and interoperability began before the ships even left port, with two exchange officers, one from Ghana and one from Côte d’Ivoire, arriving
shortly before the deployment to accompany the ships as they make their crossing.
“With them on board, the cooperation starts as soon as we leave Halifax, and…