Commander Blair Saltel, the Captain of Calgary was at Yokosuka in Japan recently. He said, ‘there is an expectation to see one or two ships on a year round basis which will be able to do a wide range of things with a number of partners in the region.’
His ship, docked together with the Canadian navy supply ship The Asterix at the naval base near Tokyo Japan, set out from Canada in the month of July on a mission which has seen it pass through the East China Sea, down to Australia and then into the contested South China Sea where some curious Chinese warships were encountered.
Just last week, for the purpose of anti-submarine warfare exercises in the Western Pacific which were a part of the largest combat readiness war game that have ever been staged within and around Japan, it linked up with U.S. and Japanese warships including the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier.
Saltel said this is an opportunity for Canada to show its experience of working together with allies within coalitions.
Other nations such as France and Britain have also tried to bolster their presence in the region as Chinese military power continues to wax in strength. This may have informed Canada’s decision to send ships to the Asian naval exercises as Beijing could begin to control some vital commercial sea lanes.
Three warships have been deployed to the Info Pacific this year by London. Inclusive of the ships dispatched is the HMS Albion, which is the largest amphibious assault ship of Britain. Following a visit to Japan, upon its return trip west, the vessel which weighs 22,000 tonnes and was carrying a contingent of 120 Royal Mariners on board, sailed a bit close to some islands that China has put a claim on in the South China Sea.
Beijing however branded the operation a “provocation” as it claimed its presence on those islands is actually peaceful.
The second largest navy in this region is operated by Japan and they dispatched the Kaga Helicopter on a tour of two months through the South China Sea and into the Indian Ocean. On this voyage it sailed with the British ship the Argyll.
The Calgary will sail to Sasebo, Western Japan this month before its eventual return to Canada for more anti-submarine warfare drills together with the U.S. and Japanese navies.
Saltel has described the partnership as a consistent progression heading toward a mutual agreement where information and logistics can be shared and where cooperation will be possible even at a moment’s notice.