Military training gets underway in YellowknifeOperation NUNAKPUT 2017 to travel Mackenzie River to Tuk
Northern News Services
Friday, June 30, 2017
An annual military operation focused on maritime and safety patrols kicked off in Yellowknife this week and will soon make its way through the territory.
A 32-foot patrol boat arrives in Yellowknife on June 26 for the beginning of Operation NUNAKPUT. - photo courtesy of Joint Task Force North
Operation NUNAKPUT 2017 started Monday on Great Slave Lake and runs until July 18 with stops in 12 other communities: Fort Providence, Wrigley, Fort Simpson, Tulita, Fort Good Hope, Inuvik, Tsiigehtchic, Aklavik, Tuktoyaktuk, Norman Wells, Jean Marie River and Hay River.
Along the way 140 people - including Canadian Armed Forces members, RCMP, GNWT and federal officials - will take part in search and rescue exercises, water and ground operations, survival training and disaster preparation assessments, according to Maj. Josee Bilodeau, senior public affairs officer at Joint Task Force North (JTFN).
In Yellowknife, the Royal Canadian Navy took the lead on getting things underway at Great Slave Lake.
"They have three large jet boats that they've deployed up here," said Brig.-Gen. Mike Nixon, commander of JTFN. "They're teaching basic watermanship training to some of our folks within team North, JTFN, as well as (1st Canadian Ranger Patrol Group)."
That training includes everything from proper craft handling and water rescues to assisting disabled vessels, he said.
to Beaufort Sea
Once operations wrap up in Yellowknife, the group will deploy to the Mackenzie River, eventually making its way up to the Beaufort Sea and Tuktoyaktuk.
"As they move down the river, they'll be linking up and kind of leapfrogging with the ranger patrols that are in the communities along the Mackenzie River," Nixon said, adding community events will be held along the way.
Lt.-Col. Luis Carvallo, commanding officer of the 1st Canadian Ranger Patrol Group, is acting as task force commander for the operation.
One of his ranger companies will provide support for the movement of navy ships along Great Slave Lake to Wrigley, while another supports a military operation assessment in Hay River.
"At the same time, we're also going to be training," said Carvallo.
That training includes surveillance along the Mackenzie River.
The rangers will also practice guiding a small military unit across the land from Deline to Tulita, among other activities, Carvallo said.
"There's a lot of small moving parts to the operation," he said. "But that's primarily where the rangers are going to be fitting into the operation."
About 11 ranger patrols are involved in the operation, according to Carvallo.
Operation NUNAKPUT 2017 is expected to cover approximately 1,800 kilometres of the NWT.
"This part of the world, as you know, has a lot of water," said Nixon, explaining why the operation is important. "A lot of people depend on the river systems for their livelihood, for movement around and for recreation."
He said Operation NUNAKPUT gives the Department of National Defence a chance to work with other departments, the GNWT and establish contacts in the event of a major search and rescue operation.
"It's all about coordination, understanding best practices and being able to operate together with very little notice," Nixon said.