HMCS VILLE DE QUEBEC sailing in the Mediterranean Sea as part of Standing NATO Maritime Group 2, 20 August 2018.
(photo credit: MASTER CORPORAL (MCPL) ANDRE MAILLET MARPAC IMAGING SERVICES)
The heads of Canada’s Navy and Air Force joined a Canadian warship to dock in Haifa port for the first time in four years on Thursday, telling The Jerusalem Post to expect a stronger Canadian presence in coming years.
“I fully anticipate that we will be coming here,” Vice-Admiral Ron Lloyd, the Head of Canada’s Royal Navy told the Post aboard the HMCS Ville de Quebec on Thursday evening.
While there won’t be any joint drills between the two allies during the ship’s visit, Lloyd met with his Israeli counterpart Maj.-Gen. Eli Sharvit and other senior naval officers earlier in the week.
“When we arrived, we had an excellent opportunity to have a number of briefings after going to Yad Vashem
. To go from a Holocaust memorial straight to the Naval Headquarters where I had the opportunity to review an honor guard was a very humbling opportunity,” Lloyd told the Post.
According to Lloyd the discussion with his Israeli counterparts focused on future opportunities and where the two navies can work together.
“We came to an agreement that our planning staff will get together and we will look at opportunities in 2019 to conduct operations together,” Lloyd said, adding that it could be anything from a Canadian frigate operating with an Israeli submarine to clearance divers, boarding operations and a number of other joint drills.
“Let’s start small; success begets success and then we can continue to conduct operations, exercises and training from that perspective,” he said.
THE HMCS Ville de Quebec, commanded by Commander Scott Robinson, left Halifax in July and has been at sea since then to support NATO’s assurance and deterrence measures in Central and Eastern Europe in Operation Reassurance of Standing NATO Maritime Group 2.
The Standing NATO Maritime Groups (SNMG) are a multinational, integrated maritime force made up of vessels from various allied countries that help to establish a NATO presence, demonstrate solidarity and conduct routine diplomatic visits to different countries.
“We are delighted not only to host the HMCS Ville de Quebec here in Israel, but also that the commanders of the Navy and Air Force in Canada are able to participate in this visit,” Canada’s Deputy Head of Mission Anthony Hinton told the Post on Thursday during a visit to the warship.
“This visit is a demonstration, overall, of the great military-to-military cooperation and ties that Canada and Israel have and the ties we have more broadly, government-to-government and people-to-people,” he added.
Also on board the ship on Thursday was 94-year-old Maurice Lobe, who fought with the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II before he moved to Israel to join the Palmah and fight in Israel’s War of Independence in the battles for Latrun and Ramat Rachel.
“It’s such a privilege to be here,” he told the Post
. “I’m in my 90s and been through both wars – and to be a Jew living in Israel, to be afforded this opportunity to be welcomed onto this ship, it’s amazing. It’s an honor to have been singled out to represent Canadians living in Israel. We have such a close relationship between our two countries.”
LLOYD WAS in Israel with the head of Canada’s Royal Air Force Lieutenant-General Al Meinzinger, who also met with his Israeli counterpart Maj.-Gen. Amikam Norkin.
“I think it’s a first, a great opportunity to come together,” Meinzinger told the Post about the two generals being in Israel at the same time.
“In Canada we just retired our maritime helicopter, so the admiral and I were on the West Coast of Canada and we obviously had a parade, and a large reception and emotional farewell about a week and a half ago,” he said. “So the admiral suggested to me: ‘We did that together, so why don’t we go to Haifa together to pay our respects and acknowledge the great work of the ship’s company?’”
On board the frigate is a CH-148 Cyclone helicopter, which has already flown some 400 hours during its first international deployment.
Meinzinger told the Post that he and Lloyd had the opportunity to fly the CH-148 from Israel out to the Ville de Quebec before it docked in Haifa.
According to Canada’s military, the fleet which will replace the East Coast’s fleet of Sea Kings after 54 years of service will be “tasked with surface and sub-surface surveillance as well as search and rescue missions, while providing tactical transport for national and international security efforts.”
The Ville de Quebec also has a 57 millimeter gun, Mark 46 anti-submarine torpedoes, eight Harpoon ship-to-ship or ship-to-land missiles, the EVOLVE Sea Sparrow anti-aircraft system and an electronic support measure to detect electronic emissions produced by Elisra, the electronic warfare and signals intelligence arm of Elbit Systems.
For Robinson, coming to Israel is a “bucket-list item” for him and many of his sailors, with only four out of the 230 having been to Israel before.
“While we won’t be holding any joint drills, we will have a ball-hockey match with Israelis,” he said, adding that coming to Israel for four days will allow his sailors to have a better understanding of the country. And despite the violence which has racked the West Bank over the past few days, “resilience is the first word that comes to mind when I think of Israel.”