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Homeland Security

Canadian Relief Arrives in Pensacola

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS050913-01
Release Date: 9/13/2005 7:02:00 AM

By Journalist 1st Class (AW) Russell C. Tafuri, U.S. Fleet Forces Command Public Affairs

NAVAL AIR STATION PENSACOLA, Fla. (NNS) -- Three Canadian ships carrying approximately 1,000 Canadian military personnel and pallets of supplies and heavy equipment arrived at Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola Sept. 12.

The Canadian ships’ arrival came after an adventurous transit from Canada, around a hurricane in the north Atlantic, to the tip of Florida’s southern coast and then north to Pensacola.

Canada joins five other countries, including Mexico, the Netherlands, Germany, France and the United Kingdom, in ongoing support of relief efforts to the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina.

The ship’s weeklong journey to assist began long before the call for help ever came.

“We had begun our trip south before we actually were asked to join the relief effort," said Canadian Navy Lt. Marie-Claude Gagne, Canadian Task Group (CTG). "And even though we weren’t sure what our mission would be, we knew we wanted to help.”

The CTG consists of the Canadian destroyer HMCS Athabaskan (DDH 282), frigates HMCS Ville De Quebec (FFH 333) and HMCS Toronto (FFH 332), and the Canadian Coast Guard vessel CCGS Sir William Alexander.

The aim of the CTG is to have the ships, supplies, assets and personnel positioned and fully operational by mid-week, according to Canadian Navy Commodore Dean McFadden, commander, CTG. “We are here to help with the efforts beyond the personal safety degree and now concentrate on the hygiene and first aid materials that are necessary, as well as concentrating on the repair and rebuild of the infrastructure in order to get people’s lives reconstituted and closer to normal,” affirmed the commodore.

In that aim, the Canadian support ranges from humanitarian supplies including diapers, clothing, drinking water, water pumps, generators, sunscreen and bug repellant, to small boats and heavy equipment to aid in the repair and reconstruction of the Gulf Coast areas ravaged by Hurricane Katrina.

“We came prepared for anything because we didn’t know exactly what we’d be doing in our support when we left Canada,” stated Canadian Navy Lt. Cmdr. Glenn Macisaac, Athabaskan supply officer. “We come as a self-sustainable force of support and can stay here lending this support for as long as it takes and as long as we’re needed. We’ve come here to help – and that’s what we’ll do.”

"We wanted to get our ships here as quickly as we could to facilitate the reconstruction and relief efforts," said McFadden. "We aim to be fully functional and able to coordinate the Canadian activities already in the area, and set up Canadian assets in a way that would not draw on the resources already in place.”

The Canadian support was welcomed by Capt. Pete Frano, commanding officer NAS Pensacola. “I think [the Canadian support] is fantastic, especially in that I don’t think we even had to ask for the help before they were on their way.”

“It’s the way it should be done; it’s the neighborly thing to do," said Canadian Chief Petty Officer 2nd Class (equivalent to a U.S. Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer) Brad Hutchinson. "I’m proud and happy to come down and give the Americans a hand. I know they’d do it for us.”

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