Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Invasion Prince Rupert

The Navy and Army are coming to town, all part of a couple of military exercises that will be based on the North Coast, partly in recognition of it’s growing visibility as a shipping centre.

The Daily news featured all the details of the two exercises, the first of which will get underway on February 22nd.

Exercises to bring in divers and others
By James Vassallo
The Daily News
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Pages one and three

Prince Rupert will be the staging ground for upcoming military exercises that will bring together Canadian Forces personnel from across the country.

The first exercise will take place beginning Feb. 22 as 30 divers from five different naval reserve units in five different cities use local waters to hone their skills.

“There's going to be a diving exercise for the port inspection dive team ... who basically take care of military assets below the waterline,” said Sub-Lt. Peggy Kulmala of HMCS Malahat.

“There's going to be three different dive locations and they'll be going down and doing some training, inspecting underwater structures like the bottoms of jetties and floats and things like that.”

During war time, the dive teams are called on to not only ensure the country's warships are in good working order below the waterline, but to also search for possible threats like explosives.
However, this time around the divers will be keeping an eye out for city infrastructure around Rushbrook, Seal Cove and Fairview Terminal.

“With Prince Rupert, according to the expert divers that have come out here, one of the most valuable things about it is the amount of jetties and floats you have and the water clarity — it provides us a lot of incredible training opportunities,” said Lt. Kulmala.

“But it's also a reciprocal arrangement where we go and get some great training value by going underwater and checking things out and if we see a problem, we let the city know.”

The port inspection dive team holds five training exercises a year. The decision to come to Rupert this time was influenced by the growing strategic importance of the area. The exercise will provide the dive team with the lay of the land for the area and set the stage for a large-scale multi-agency exercise scheduled for this summer.

It’s a national exercise and it’s going to be the biggest one for the naval reserves,” she said. “It’s primarily a naval reserve exercise because port security and coastal defence is our mandate. It’s very big.

“We’re doing these two exercises in recognition of the importance of Prince Rupert to Canada and the Canadian Forces.”

The exercise will bring 140 people from the armed forces alone with the dive team scheduled to come back alongside the HMCS Edmonton, naval reservists and the army.

The RCMP, Canada Border Services Agency and the Prince Rupert Port Authority will also take part.

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