Category Archives: canada

Kiss the fish!

Official caption: “As a part of Royal Canadian Naval tradition, Master Seaman Shaun Duguay kisses the fish as part of the initiation to become a new “Shellback” (members who have crossed the Arctic Circle by Order of the Blue Nose – Domain of the Polar Bear), onboard Task Group flagship HMCS VILLE DE QUÉBEC during the Crossing the Line Ceremony, on August 17, 2020, during Operation NANOOK 20.”

Photo: MCpl Manuela Berger, Canadian Armed Forces Photo

HMCS Ville de Québec (FFH 332) (commonly referred to as VDQ) is a 5,000-ton Halifax-class frigate that has served in the Royal Canadian Navy since 1993 and in the past 27 years has seen service on the NATO blockade force against Yugoslavia, escorted food ships off the pirate-infested waters off Somalia, performed disaster assistance in the Gulf of Mexico after Hurricane Katrina, and was one of the naval assets deployed to search for Swissair Flight 111 in 1998.

And of course, the Order of the Blue Nose is a time-honored U.S. tradition as well, reserved for the Crossing of the Arctic Circle (66-32 North latitude). 

Reference that of the USS Spruance (DD 936) in 1988, which looks…cold. 

 

Canuck Voodoo

A quartet of Royal Canadian Air Force McDonnell CF-101B/EF-101B Voodoo aircraft in their circa 1984 retirement schemes:

Credit: Library and Archives Canada

From the bottom is the ECM “Electric Voodoo” blackbird SN#101067 from 414 EW Sqn, “Alouette Un” (Lark One)” 101014 from 425 AW (F) Sqn, “Lynx One” 101043 from 416 AW (F), and “Hawk One” 101057 from 409 AW (F) Sqn.

Amazingly, three of the four are preserved, with Lynx One outside the Atlantic Canada Aviation Museum in Halifax, Nova Scotia; Hawk One as a gate guard at CFB Comox, BC; and the Electric Voodoo, the world’s last operational “One-oh-Wonder,” at the Minnesota Air National Guard Museum in U.S. livery.

First flown in 1954, the Century-series tactical strike fighter first entered Canadian service in 1961, the type’s only official foreign customer (although Taiwan later flew eight ex-U.S. RF-101A variants). Using the F-101 on NORAD missions longer than either the USAF or the Air National Guard, Ottawa retired their Voodoos to make way for early F-18 (CF-188) Hornets, with the farewell flight of 101067 in April 1987.

More on RCAF Voodoos can be found at the New Brunswick Aviation Museum.

SINKEX Harpoon edition

The U.S. Navy’s press office released that, on 29 August off the coast of Hawaii during Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2020, a live-fire SINKEX was conducted against a target hulk, the ex-USS Durham (LKA-114).

An 18,000-ton Charleston-class amphibious cargo ship commissioned on May 24, 1969, Durham was decommissioned on February 25, 1994, notably seeing service during Vietnam (four campaign stars, including the Frequent Wind evacuation in 1975) and the First Gulf War. The only Navy ship to carry the name of the North Carolina city, Durham was laid up in Pearl Harbor’s Middle Loch since 2000 and found ineligible for historic preservation in 2017.

The released video shows at least three missile hits as well as what could be some other surface weapons, with the Navy non-commital on just what ordinance was expended.

Meanwhile, the Royal Canadian Navy is reporting that the Halifax-class frigate HMCS Regina had the opportunity to shoot two of their RGM-84 Harpoons in RIMPAC, a rare event indeed.

Master Seaman Dan Bard, RCN

Master Seaman Dan Bard, RCN

At the same time, the Royal Australian Navy reports that the modified ANZAC (MEKO200) class frigate HMAS Stuart (FFH-153) expended one of her Harpoons on Durham.

RAN photo

RAN photo

“Simulation is a critical part of our training but there is nothing better than to conduct live-fire training,” said Royal Australian Navy Capt. Phillipa Hay, commander, RIMPAC 2020 Task Force One. “Sinking exercises are an important way to test our weapons and weapons systems in the most realistic way possible. It demonstrates as a joint force we are capable of high-end warfare.”

RIMPAC on parade

A parade of modern naval architecture underway in the bright blue of the Pacific, showing off some 23 ships and submarines!

The great formation PHOTOEX captured on the below 5~ minute video shows off the multinational navy ships and a submarine navigate in formation during a group sail off the coast of Hawaii during Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2020, August 21.

The video includes lots of close-ups of the individual ships:

0:09, 2:51 Republic Of Korea Navy guided-missile destroyer ROKS Seoae Ryu Seong-ryong (DDG 993)

0:14 Royal Canadian Navy frigate HMCS Regina (FFH 334) in beautiful WWII camo

0:26 U.S. Navy amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) 

0:32 Philippine Navy’s first guided-missile frigate BRP Jose Rizal (FF 150)

0:37 RAN HMAS Stuart (FFH 153) 

0:54 Singapore Navy Formidable-class frigate RSS Supreme (FFG 73)

1:01 Royal New Zealand Navy salvage ship HMNZS Manawanui (A09)

1:07 Destroyer ROKS Chungmugong Yi Sun-sin (DDH-975)

1:12, 2:57  HMCS Winnipeg (FFH 338)

1:16 Royal Brunei Navy Darussalam-class offshore patrol vessel KDB Darulehsan (OPV 07)

1:22 Coast Guard Cutter USCGC Munro (WMSL 755)

1:25 RAN replenishment ship HMAS Sirius (O 266)

1:43 USS Jefferson City (SSN-759) (always nice to see an LA-class attack boat on the surface)

2:00, 2:14 Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force “helicopter destroyer” JS Ise (DDH 182)

2:29 RAN frigate HMAS Stuart (FFH 153)

Also seen, although not in the same detail, are the RAN frigate HMAS Arunta (FFH 151) and the guided-missile destroyer HMAS Hobart (DDG 39), the Japanese guided-missile destroyer JS Ashigara (DDG 178), French Navy Marine Nationale patrol ship FS Bougainville (A622), MSC fleet replenishment oiler USNS Henry J. Kaiser (T-AO 187), Essex’s escorts the guided-missile destroyers USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93) and USS Dewey (DDG 105) as well as the aging Tico-class guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG 70).

There is a great gallery of these vessels at the Pacific Fleet’s social media page.

From COMPACFLT:

“Like-minded nations come together in RIMPAC in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific where all nations enjoy unfettered access to the seas and airways in accordance with international law and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) upon which all nations’ economies depend,” said Adm. John C. Aquilino, Commander U.S. Pacific Fleet.

Ten nations, 22 ships, 1 submarine, and more than 5,300 personnel are participating in Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) from August 17 to 31 at sea in the waters surrounding Hawaii. RIMPAC is a biennial exercise designed to foster and sustain cooperative relationships, critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific region. The exercise is a unique training platform designed to enhance interoperability and strategic maritime partnerships. RIMPAC 2020 is the 27th exercise in the series that began in 1971.

Point Stay Back

Canadian Army Sniper Arthur Godin of Le Régiment de la Chaudière (Mitrailleuses) taking aim from his hide in the interior of a building in Zutphen, Netherlands, on 7 April 1945, during the two-week fight for that city that only concluded on 12 April.

Godin is using an Enfield No. 4 Mk. I (T) sniper rifle with what looks to be a No. 32 3.5x scope, a combo that remained standard for marksmen in the British and Commonwealth forces into the 1960s when it was replaced by the L42A1, a rifle that was essentially the same thing but in 7.62 NATO rather than .303 and with better glass.

He is also using a tactic that was as valid in 1945 as it is today– keeping well away from an opening or loophole to hide his shape, muzzle flash, shadow, and optic reflection from enemy eyes.

Of course, Hollywood always wants to show the sniper hanging out of a window, framing themselves as an excellent target for counter-fire, because Hollywood. It is a sign of a rookie or someone playing at war.

For reference, see the famous video of the YPJ Syrian sniper, who learned that fire goes both ways if you are easily spotted.

As for the Régiment de la Chaudière, they trace their origins to 1812 and the defense of Canada against the invading Americans to the South. The only French-Canadian unit to hit the beach at Normandy on D-Day, they fought from Caen to Calais then across Holland and the Rhineland. Since 1946, they have been a reserve unit based in Quebec but have seen extensive service in Afghanistan. Their motto is Ære perennius (Stronger than bronze).

Well-Holstered Hussars

The below image shows Maj. A. D’Arcy Marks and Capt. A. Brandon Conron of the Canadian 6th Armoured Regiment (1st Hussars) (6 CAR), posed in front of an M4A2 Sherman medium tank near Colomby-sur-Thaon, France, 28 June 1944 in the push out from Normandy.

Note the tracks on the front of the Sherman. Photo by Ken Bell, Library and Archives Canada

Marks has what appears to be a Browning Hi-Power (or M1911?) in a very interesting holster that appears to be a British Pattern 37 flap holster that has been partially cutaway. Conron, meanwhile, is well-outfitted with a revolver rig that includes not only spare rounds but also a cleaning rod in the holster.

As for the 1st Hussars, formed in 1856, they served overseas with distinction in the Great War, earning honors at Vimy Ridge. They returned to France in 1944, landing at Juno Beach where they were “the only unit of the Allied invasion forces known to reach its final objective on D-Day,” which certainly lived up to their motto of Hodie non cars, (Today not tomorrow).

Still part of the Canadian Forces Reserve, they are currently stationed at London, Ontario as part of the 31 Canadian Brigade Group.

Dolphins, Dolphins, Dolphins– NATO edition

On 13 June 1923, CPT (later Fleet Admiral) Ernest J. King, at the time Commander, Submarine Division Three, proposed to the Secretary of the Navy that a distinguishing device for qualified U.S. submariners be adopted.

That initiative led to today’s Submarine Warfare Insignia–best known as “dolphins” or “fish.”

All photos via NATO Submarine Command (COMSUBNATO)

Of course, most other fleets that field submarines also have similar badges, though not always accompanied by marine life.

Here are the NATO ones:

Royal Canadian Navy

French Navy

Deutsche Marine (German Navy)

Hellenic (Greek) Navy

Italian Navy

Netherlands

Norwegian

Polish

Portuguese

Turkish Navy

Royal Spanish Navy

Royal Navy

The more you know…

A Century at La Citadelle

The Canadian Army’s Royal 22e Régiment, the Van Doos, dates back to 1869 and today they are the only French-speaking Regiment of the Regular Force. Make no mistake about blue flannel-wearing “Jon Paul” Quebecois jokes, the Van Doos are legit, especially when it comes to cold weather ops.

A snow-camo’d member of 3e Bataillon, Royal 22e Régiment standing watch in front of a barn during Exercise RAFALE BLANCHE in St Sylvestre, Québec on February 3, 2014. Note his C7 with Elcan sight

In 1919, after returning with 21 Battle Honours from a very serious tour on the Western Front during the Great War, the unit was barracked in metropolitan Quebec.

On 22 May 1920, the Van Doos moved into the City’s historic Citadelle on Cap Diamant, the site of fortifications protecting the city going back to 1608.

This place

This month the Regiment celebrates its 100th year in residence, which remains a functioning military installation as well as an official residence for the Monarch– the Queen is their Colonel-in-Chief– as well as being the typical summer home of Canada’s Governor General.

In such official public duty at the Citadelle, with the site entertaining a quarter-million visiting tourists each year, the Van Doos wear the familiar scarlet uniforms and bearskin caps of British Foot Guards regiments.

They earned them, having stood post at St. James and Buckingham in 1940, during the Blitz, the first French-speaking unit to do so. In that gig, they wore standard kit, down to gas masks, and charged SMLEs.

Their traditional mascot, Batisse, is a goat, and their motto is Je me souviens, (I remember).

You know the C20, eh?

The Colt Canada-produced C20 semi-automatic Intermediate Sniper Weapon is being acquired for the Canadian Army in small numbers.

Produced domestically by Colt Canada in Kitchener, Ontario, the semi-automatic C20 has an 18-inch barrel with a 1-in-10 twist and is reportedly pretty friggen accurate. Testing showed the rifle to fire 8,000 rounds with no stopping and deliver an average of .66 MOA over 144 five-round groups using 175-grain Federal Gold Medal Match.

The overall length on the C20 is 38-inches while weight is 9.1-pounds. It has a 46-slot continuous MIL-STD-1913 top rail and a handguard with M-LOK accessory slots in the 3-, 6-, and 9-o’clock positions. (Photo: Colt Canada)

More in my column at Guns.com. 

Milsurp Mauser dreams

When you come across a nice Kar98K Mauser without import marks, and the guy selling it gives a story about how it was taken from the “body of a dead Nassi,” keep in mind most of those rifles were quietly stacked by their former owners in the end days of the war in Europe in 1945, rather than battlefield pickups clawed from a scarred corpse.

Thus, 75 years ago today, in IJmuiden, Netherlands:

Unidentified German soldier turning in his rifle to a Canadian soldier, IJmuiden, Netherlands, 11 May 1945. Library and Archives Canada photo # 3210799. Photographer: Stirton, Alexander 

Privates J.A. Taylor and J.D. Villeneuve of the Royal Canadian Regiment stacking rifles turned in by surrendering German soldiers, IJmuiden, Netherlands, 11 May 1945. LAC 3211669

Holland’s gateway to the North Sea, IJmuiden was protected by 18,000 Germans in seaside defensive roles. The principal German unit there was the 703rd Infantry Division of Maj. Gen Hans Huttner, formed late in the war from drafts strengthed with former battleship sailors of the 10th and 24th Schiff Stamm Abteilung and the volunteer “Turkomen” of the 787th Turkistanische Abteilung, the latter formed from Soviet POWs from the Caucus and of Central Asian extraction.

Units of the 1st Canadian Army arrived in town on 7 May and observed a quiet cease-fire with the local garrison until 11 May when they disarmed the Germans with the help of local Resistance.

The last of the 120,000 Germans in “Festung Holland” would surrender on June 1 at Vlieland. With the exception of 3,000 German sappers retained for the remainder of the year to remove landmine and roadblocks they installed, the rest of the former occupiers were repatriated by July, with most simply walking over the border.

This fate excludes the “Turks” who would be handed over to the Soviets and introduced to the beauty of Siberia in winter.

But what of those stacks of Mausers?

NORWAY AFTER LIBERATION 1945 (BU 9763) Storeroom at Solar aerodrome, Stavanger, holding some of the estimated 30,000 rifles taken from German forces in Norway after their surrender. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205205892

By the end of 1945, the millions of military surplus former Axis weapons became a juggernaut that took on a life all their own. For more on that, check out my column at Guns.com.

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