Canadian Forces learn on water

Diana Yeager/NNSL photo Canadian Rangers from Fort Smith, Fort Providence, Fort Simpson and Hay River took part in 17 days of training on Great Slave Lake and the Mackenzie River.

Diana Yeager/NNSL photo
Canadian Rangers from Fort Smith, Fort Providence, Fort Simpson and Hay River took part in 17 days of training on Great Slave Lake and the Mackenzie River.

Operation Nunakput 2016 was in Hay River last week, bringing together various maritime patrols to use the local waters for training.

The operation ran from July 5 to 20, using the waters off Yellowknife, Fort Resolution, Fort Simpson, Hay River and Fort Providence.

Participating in the operation were the Canadian Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the RCMP, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the Canadian Coast Guard, Parks Canada, the Department of Environment and Climate Change, the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association, and the 1st Canadian Ranger Patrol Group, including some members from Hay River.

The operation is meant to provide training across the different organizations, as well as assert sovereignty in the North.

Task Force Operations Officer Capt. James Longaphie from Yellowknife said the operation runs every year on the Mackenzie River but this year it was decided to try something different.

The groups formed a convoy from Yellowknife across Great Slave Lake to train in the more southern waters. They arrived in Hay River on July 14 and departed on July 16, having completed their man-overboard training on the lake and spending an afternoon at the Hay River Canadian Coast Guard base in a presentation about marine spill response.

Chief Petty Officer S.D. Lothian travelled from Halifax to take part in the training on behalf of the navy, and he said training on the lake is much different from what he is used to on the East Coast.

“I’m used to the Atlantic, which is very well-charted,” he said. “It’s good practice to be trying something different. The scales are different. There are not as many navigational aids. You have to rely more on your visuals and the GPS, as well as local knowledge.”

Three of Hay River’s Canadian Rangers were involved in the operation.

Ranger Nihal Silveira Da Graca Costa, Ranger Corporal Kevin Lafferty and Master Corporal Jeremy Storvold made the two-week commitment to travel with the group during their training, which started in Yellowknife on July 5. The operation had 10 boats of various sizes and capabilities crossing the lake, including a cutter that was brought up from Halifax.

“The other groups are providing us with training and mentorship,” said Storvold. “And they’re learning from us, of course. There are no good charts for this lake, so we rely on local knowledge for that.”

Storvold said the water training was a new experience for the Hay River Canadian Rangers, who have been mobilized for five years.

“Half of our area of response is in water,” he said. “So it’s relevant training for us.”

The Canadian Rangers are reservists of the Canadian Armed Forces, Storvold said.

They are volunteers who keep their training up to date in case extra emergency measures are needed in a place where a Canadian Armed Forces base is absent.

Diana Yeager