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Canada Mobilizing Two Warships for COVID-19 Response

FILE PHOTO: Canadian HMCS Ville de Quebec

PortandTerminal.com, March 31, 2020

Two Royal Canadian Navy ships are being readied to mobilize as part of the nation’s COVID-19 response.

HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA – The crews of two Royal Canadian Navy vessels were ordered to sequester in a Halifax hotel for two weeks as the federal government announced Monday that it is ready to mobilize up to 24,000 Canadian troops at the drop of a hat to help with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Canada is looking to the experience of its ally the United States and taking no chances when it comes to outbreaks of COVID19 on its warships. The U.S. is dealing with outbreaks of the virus on at least two of its navy vessels. American officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters yesterday that nearly 80 people aboard the U.S. aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt had tested positive for the virus, a number likely to increase as all personnel on the ship are tested.

READ: ‘Sailors do not need to die,’ warns captain of virus-hit U.S. aircraft carrier

In Canada, Rear-Admiral Craig Baines, Commander of Maritime Atlantic Forces, is mobilizing sailors from HMCS Ville de Quebec and HMCS Moncton as well as the crew of a maritime helicopter detachment.

The ships will be ready to respond on short notice to “coastal communities who might need a helping hand,” a Department of National Defence spokesperson said in an email Monday.

Canada currently has 8,484 confirmed cases of COVID19. Along its Atlantic coastlines, which is made up of low population provinces, there are presently 361 active cases of the virus in total.

The Department of National Defence confirmed on Monday that the crews are being isolated in a hotel for 14 days as a precaution against the illness breaking out on the vessels.

After their initial 14-day isolation the sailors of the two ships will then be deployed for an undetermined length of time. PortandTerminal.com though has been told by a source that the sailors are being advised that they may be at sea for as long as three months.

Canada's Defence Minister, Harjit Sajjan in combat uniform
PHOTO: Before becoming Canada’s Defence Minister, Harjit Sajjan was a lieutenant-colonel in the Canadian Armed Forces and a Vancouver police gang crime unit detective. (Twitter)

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said that up to 24,000 defense force personnel will be readied as part of  Operation LASER, the official name for the Canadian Armed Forces’ worldwide pandemic response. Sajjan said support would focus on northern and Arctic communities that have limited health and logistics capabilities. The Navy ships will be used to respond to coastal communities that need assistance, he said.

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