Maritime presence: Canadian naval operations in European waters

By Dr. Lee Willett

Re-posted courtesy of Jane’s Defence Weekly

The Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) is maintaining a pattern of continuous presence in European waters to meet a high national policy priority and to support NATO interests.

Canada’s geostrategic position means that the country is faced with addressing maritime matters in three oceans: the Arctic, the Atlantic, and the Pacific. Covering such vast areas would challenge the capacities of many naval services.

However, as well as securing its immediate maritime neighbourhood, Canada also supports interests much further afield, including in the Caribbean, the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, off the coast of West Africa, and in the waters around Western Europe.

A cursory overview of recent NATO naval activity in the European theatre reveals a consistent presence of RCN surface ships and submarines, with RCN platforms deployed from north European waters to the Black Sea. Like many NATO member states have done since the return of tensions with Russia in 2014, Canada has reaffirmed its commitment to maintaining defence, deterrence, and assurance in the region.

“Certainly, since really [mid-]2014, we’ve had a near-continuous presence with NATO here in the Standing NATO Maritime Groups [SNMGs],” said Rear Admiral Craig Baines, the RCN’s commander of Maritime Forces Atlantic and Joint Task Force Atlantic.

This presence and commitment is currently being delivered by the Halifax-class guided-missile frigate HMCS St….

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