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Naval ship docks in Victoria during historic circumnavigation of North America

HMCS Harry DeWolf left Halifax, visited Nunavut, bound for the Panama in journey not done since 1954

The Royal Canadian Navy’s HMCS Harry DeWolf has stopped in Victoria following its maiden deployment to Northwest Passage communities and before its return to Nova Scotia for the navy’s first circumnavigation of North America since 1954.

The first-of-its-class Arctic and offshore patrol ship and its crew will take maintenance and rest at CFB Esquimalt for most of October, said navy Lt. Lisa Tubbs at the Ogden Point pier where she arrived Sunday afternoon.

Since departing from Halifax on Aug. 4, “Operation Nanook” included community relation-building and personnel training, Tubbs said.

The ship and crew conducted mass evacuation training with a detachment of the United States Coast Guard and visited the isolated Nunavut communities of Pond Inlet, Arctic Bay and Grise Fiord. There, they made infrastructure repairs and hosted community barbeques.

“We wanted to go there, meet people, show the communities that we’re there for them and we’re going to be back in the Arctic. We’re really proud to be there,” Tubbs said.

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Following the stay in Esquimalt, the ship will travel through the Panama Canal and return to Nova Scotia to commence “Operation Carib.” The anti-drug trafficking operation will have HMCS Harry DeWolf host U.S. law enforcement officers as it intercepts vessels of interest, Tubbs said.

The U.S. officers will board the vessels using itsmulti-role rescue boats – which are new to the Royal Canadian Navy – and escort the vessels of interest to port where officials will conduct drug searches, she said. “So we’re (the United States law enforcement’s) transport, essentially … that’s how we support the Canadian Armed Forces commitment to stopping the flow of illicit drugs into North America.”

The full circumnavigation of North America will be the first for the Royal Canadian Navy since accomplished by the HMCS Labrador in 1954. HMCS Harry DeWolf will eventually be one of at least six Arctic and offshore patrol ships in the navy, three of which will be found on either of Canada’s lateral coasts, Tubbs said.

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