HMCS Winnipeg crew say operation tarnished, despite success

HMCS Winnipeg crew say operation tarnished, despite success

Some crew members say Operation CARIBBE is tarnished since the media coverage of their sail focused on the actions of two crew members.

They left on June 15, 2015 and for the next 254 days, the 250 men and women of HMCS Winnipeg represented Canada around the globe, performing their duties with the pride and precision that has become the hallmark of the Canadian Navy.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the accomplishments of the crew, their professionalism and effectiveness,” said Commander J. Jeffrey Hutchinson, commanding officer for the latter part of the deployment.

For some navy personnel, though, the homecoming was tainted by the belief the media coverage of their sail focused, not on their accomplishments, but on the alleged actions of two crew members (one was a civilian attached to the Winnipeg) who were arrested while on shore leave in Tokyo for alleged drug use. That arrest and the subsequent news coverage at home has caused some of the crew to cry foul.

“A lot of people worked really hard, doing their job with a lot of pride…separated from their families and trying to do their duty to meet Canada’s commitments around the world,” said one crewmember who asked to remain anonymous.

“Then we come home and all anyone asks about are the two guys who got arrested. It’s not right. I don’t expect any special thanks…we did our job…but if we’re going to be covered in the media, how about talking about the things that we actually did while we were away from our families?”

The Winnipeg was part of Operation Reassurance; an operation that came in direct response to Russia’s annexation in the Crimea. All three branches of the service were involved and together they accomplished their goal of demonstrating that NATO is still relevant and ready to respond to world situations.

“The crew knew the importance of what we were doing and they were fantastic, behind every mission,” said Commander Pascal Belhumeur.

The Winnipeg provided support to Operation CARIBBE, part of a multinational campaign against illicit trafficking and organized crime in the Caribbean. She also became part of the NATO Maritime Group(s) One and Two; operations to detect, deter and disrupt terrorism in the Mediterranean Sea.

“That operation in the Mediterranean originally started right after Sept. 11, 2001,” said Belhumeur. “And this time out we did a tremendous amount of work to help keep our world a bit safer place.”

During their deployment, the Winnipeg also took part in three separate NATO joint exercises, including Operation TRIDENT JUNCTURE — the largest NATO led exercise in more than 20 years, employing more than 70 ships, eight submarines, over 100 aircraft and over 3,000 marines from 12 NATO countries.

But the Winnipeg’s crew didn’t limit its work on behalf of Canada to the ship’s military operations

“At almost every port that we went into there was some form of community outreach done by the crew, absolutely on their initiative and their own time,” said Belhumeur, adding, “community outreach has always been a part of what the Canadian Forces personnel see as part of their responsibility while on deployment.”

“In Rome, for example, the crew had set up a Christmas tree on board with tags that listed the age and sex of children, like a five to seven-year-old girl for example, and they purchased presents for the tags they took and when we were in port they took all those presents and donated them to underprivileged children. Everywhere we went they were like that…they did us proud.”

By the end of their deployment, the crew of the Winnipeg had circumnavigated the globe, travelling 53,875 nautical miles (99,776 kilometres). They had reaffirmed Canada’s position in NATO, and, according to Belhumeur, they had been a credit to their service and their country.

“They have every reason to be proud of what they did,” he said.

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Victoria Hospice staff Brianne Ohl, left, Angela Chalmers, right, and Sandi Ogloff, at back, show off their buttons that show a picture of them smiling. Staff has worked hard to maintain the connections with patients despite the barriers of PPE and rigid COVID-19 protocols. (Victoria Hospice Photo)
Hospice provides compassion in a time of COVID

Victoria Hospice 40th anniversary on pause during pandemic

Look for the Random Act of Kindness Day colouring contest in Black Press issues Jan. 17. Physical entries can be mailed or dropped off to local Black Press offices. A scanned or photographed entry can be emailed to info@victoriafoundation.bc.ca. Winning entries can get a $50 gift card to Bolen Books and a $100 donation to a charity of their choice from the VIctoria Foundation. (Pixabay)
Colouring contest coming for Kindness Day

Kindness Day colouring contest in partnership with Victoria Foundation

Sidney has moved the remaining parts of its public consultation phase part of the Official Community Plan online. (Black Press Media File)
Sidney moves to an ‘all online engagement’ process for OCP

Staff says OCP charrette scheduled for mid-February

(File photo)
‘Very lucky’: Two passengers, dog escape rollover crash in Saanich unscathed

Vehicle flips on Trans Canada Highway after hitting median, possibly due to ice, firefighter says

The large metal gate stolen from Muddy Valley Farm in rural Saanich on Jan. 18 reappeared less than a week later. (Muddy Valley Farm/Facebook)
Large metal gate stolen from Saanich farm makes mysterious reappearance

12-foot gate returned to Muddy Valley Farm less than a week after it was stolen

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. (News Bulletin file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Nanaimo hospital

Two staff members and one patient have tested positive, all on the same floor

A long-term care worker receives the Pfizer vaccine at a clinic in Nanaimo earlier this month. (Island Health photo)
All Island seniors in long-term care will be vaccinated by the end of this weekend

Immunization of high-risk population will continue over the next two months

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vintage military aircraft moving from Chilliwack to new home at B.C. Aviation Museum

The challenging move to Vancouver Island will be documented by Discovery Channel film crews

A video posted to social media by Chilliwack resident Rob Iezzi shows a teenager getting kicked in the face after being approached by three suspects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Rob i)
VIDEO: Security cameras capture ‘just one more assault’ near B.C. high school

Third high-school related assault captured by Chilliwack resident’s cameras since beginning of 2021

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

Economic Development and Official Languages Minister Melanie Joly responds to a question in the House of Commons Monday November 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Federal minister touts need for new B.C. economic development agency

Last December’s federal economic update promised a stimulus package of about $100 billion this year

FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2017, file photo, Larry King attends the 45th International Emmy Awards at the New York Hilton, in New York. Former CNN talk show host King has been hospitalized with COVID-19 for more than a week, the news channel reported Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. CNN reported the 87-year-old King contracted the coronavirus and was undergoing treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)
Larry King, broadcasting giant for half-century, dies at 87

King conducted an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews

Comox Valley RCMP are looking for witnesses after the theft of a generator worth thousands of dollars. Photo supplied
RCMP asking Vancouver Island residents to watch for stolen generator

Vehicle may have been travelling on Highway 19

Most Read