From 1 Canadian Air Division, Winnipeg
RCAF personnel enhance skills with Icelandic authorities
Members of 103 Search and Rescue Squadron from 9 Wing Gander, Newfoundland and Labrador, are returning home after training with the Icelandic Coast Guard and local search and rescue teams from February 9 to 12, 2016.
The nine Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) personnel, along with a CH-149 Cormorant helicopter, took part in multiple exercise scenarios, including training with the Icelandic Coast Guard vessel Thor (or “Þór” in Icelandic). There were also inland and glacier search and rescue joint exercises with volunteers from local Icelandic Association for Search and Rescue (ICE-SAR) teams.
“The Canadian Armed Forces is equipped with a great fleet of CH-149 helicopters and a highly trained group of airmen and airwomen,” said Lieutenant-General Michael Hood, the commander of the RCAF. “The RCAF SAR force is something Canadians take pride in.
“Working alongside other Arctic countries active in SAR reminds us that we might wear different uniforms but we are all driven by the same motto: That others may live. This invaluable training and partnership ensures we are better integrated if we were called upon to cooperate in the future.”
“The RCAF’s front-line line SAR professionals have gained significant familiarity with the protocols and associated capabilities of their Icelandic colleagues,” noted Major Jean Leroux, the commanding officer of 103 Search and Rescue Squadron. “In the event that Canada and Iceland are jointly called in response to a SAR mission, our shared experience may be a key factor in saving lives.”
The Canadians and Icelanders participated in open water and boat scenarios that included hoisting from a ship, hoisting from a life raft and hoisting from the sea. In addition, there were visits to various local Icelandic Coast Guard locations and facilities as well as a NATO air station at Keflavík. Training occurred out of the Icelandic Coast Guard’s base at Reykjavik airport with several activities taking place across the Iceland territory.
“This exercise has allowed the Icelandic Coast Guard and ICE-SAR to share with our Canadian partners our methods and experiences in overcoming the most challenging environment; the Arctic,” said Commander Senior Grade, Audunn Kristinsson, deputy chief of operations for the Icelandic Coast Guard.
“We have greatly benefited from this joint exercise and have in our Canadian neighbours a strong partner in executing Arctic search and rescue. This training truly demonstrates the tenant of cooperation essential to our profession. We might be separated by thousands of kilometres but we are joined in our desire to save lives.”
Source: Royal Canadian Air Force