Esquimalt sailors detained in Japan for drug charges

Two members charged with using a controlled substance

Instead of making their way back home with the rest of their colleagues, two crew members on board the Canadian navy’s HMCS Winnipeg ship have been detained by police in Tokyo, Japan for using a controlled substance.

On Feb. 1, three members of the ship were detained by Japanese authorities while the ship was conducting a port visit in Tokyo. Two of the members were military and one was a civilian employee.

One of the military members has since been released, but charges have now been laid against the two other crew members, who remain in Tokyo.

Sub-Lt. Melissa Kia from CFB Esquimalt said it’s not known what the substance was, but noted the navy has a zero-tolerance policy for illicit drug use and possession.

In a statement released Wednesday, Admiral Gilles Couturier, commander for the Maritime Forces (Pacific), called the allegations troubling.

“While it is too early to speak to the specifics of any actions or investigations at this time, I can state definitively that our response will be based on facts and will serve to remind and ensure all who serve in the RCN (Royal Canadian Navy) that unacceptable behaviour, whatever its nature, has no place within our ranks,” Couturier said.

With a crew of approximately 250 personnel, the ship left Esquimalt on June 15, 2015 and took part in three international operations. One of those included a multinational campaign against drug trafficking in the Carribbean. The ship then went on to the Mediterranean Sea as part of Operation Reassurance — Canada’s measures to promote security and stability in Central and Eastern Europe in light of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.

The ship left the mediterranean at the end of December through the Suez Canal, transiting through Goa, then Japan. It is now on its way back to CFB Esquimalt.

This is hardly the first time sailors have found themselves in hot water while at sea.

In 2014, the navy banned sailors from drinking aboard ships, unless the vessel is tied up or an exception has been made for a special occasion such as Christmas. The order was made after the HMCS Whitehorse was recalled from an international exercise over allegations of drunkenness, shoplifting and sexual misconduct amongst three crew members.

The ship was participating in an international joint training exercise known as the Rim of the Pacific or RIMPAC, and was docked in San Diego when the incidents occurred.

 

editor@vicnews.com