HMCS FRE

The RCN in the Arctic?

At the onset of the Cold War, it became clear that the Arctic was of strategic significance. So, for a brief period, the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) established a presence there. But this presence was sporadic and largely abandoned with the transfer of HMCS Labrador - the navy’s only icebreaker - to the Department of Transport in 1957.

In the 1970s there were semi-annual northern deployments (NORPLOYS), but it was only in the early 2000s that Canada began regular Arctic deployments. After an absence of years, in the early 2000s, there were two Narwhal exercises, then came Hudson Sentinel in 2005 and Operation Lancaster in 2006.

HMCS FRE

In 2007 the first iteration of Operation Nanook occurred, and has become an annual Arctic training operation. The navy is now rebuilding its expertise in operating in the Arctic. With the delivery of the first Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship, the RCN will have more capability to go North.

If you want to know more about the difficulties of operating in the northern areas of Canada, then take a look at the Naval Association of Canada Briefing Note “The RCN in the Arctic.” https://www.navalassoc.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/BN15-RCN-and-Arctic.pdf

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