DND News

Canada transfers Command of Naval Task Force to New Zealand

Commodore Dan Charlebois of the Royal Canadian Navy transferred command of the Combined Maritime Forces’ (CMF) Combined Task Force 150 (CTF 150) on 15 July 2021 to Captain Brendon Clark of the Royal New Zealand Navy during a change of command ceremony held at Naval Support Activity Bahrain.

The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) contribution to CMF, a 34 nation naval partnership that counters illicit non-state actors on the high seas and promotes security, stability, and prosperity across approximately 3.2 million square miles of international waters, is designated Operation ARTEMIS. 

Commodore Charlebois took command in January 2021, when Canada deployed 31 CAF personnel and one Department of National Defence civilian employee to CMF’s Headquarters in Bahrain to lead CTF 150.

HMCS Calgary and a Royal Canadian Air Force CP-140 long-range patrol aircraft air detachment also supported this deployment and greatly contributed to CTF 150’s record-breaking drug seizures over the past six months.

June 2021 – Lieutenant (Navy) Evan Park, a Naval Warfare Officer aboard HMCS Calgary, takes a bearing with a pelorus during a refueling at sea with USNS Arctic in the Arabian Sea during Operation ARTEMIS and as part of Combined Task Force 150. (CAF Photo: Corporal Lynette Ai Dang)

A total of 34 counter-narcotics seizures occurred during Canada’s command of CTF 150, yielding more than 55 000 kg of illicit narcotics and setting records for the number of interdictions and amounts seized by CTF 150. A single interdiction by HMCS Calgary that seized over 1 200 kg of heroin was the largest heroin bust in CMF’s history. Calgary’s 17 drug busts also set a record for the number of seizures made by single ship serving with CMF, with a wholesale value of the seized narcotics being in excess of $90 million (USD).

Commanding CTF 150 reflects Canada’s commitment to work with its partners to tackle the global terrorist threat and demonstrates the confidence of our allies and coalition partners in the CAF’s ability to lead multinational forces.

Commodore Dan Charlebios

Outgoing Commander, Cmdre Charlebois (above) noted the many contributors to mission success. “We were fortunate to enjoy the support of the US, UK, France and Pakistan during our command, allowing our task force to successfully cover an expansive and complex area of operations. I would be remiss not to highlight the impact our own Royal Canadian Navy and Royal Canadian Air Force assets had on our mission at sea and in the air. Having the direct support of HMCS Calgary and a CP-140 long range patrol aircraft was one of the highlights of our mission. Finally, I cannot overstate my thanks to the combined Canadian-Australian CTF 150 team and their stalwart dedication to our mission. As I hand over command to the Royal New Zealand Navy, I wish them success on this extremely important mission.”

Capt Brendon Clark

Incoming Commander, NZ Capt Brendon Clark (above), congratulated Cmdre Charlebois and his staff from the Royal Canadian and Australian navies, saying “they have achieved outstanding results during their time in theatre. Their professionalism, dedication and attention to detail has seen Combined Task Force 150 make a tangible and positive contribution to the mission.” He went on to highlight some key successes under Canadian leadership “CTF 150 has seized approximately $160 million USD worth of narcotics and prevented illegal trade and activities that fund terrorism. These collective actions have undoubtedly deterred illicit activity within the area of operations, and thereby improved the overall prosperity, security, and stability within the region.” 

The Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), a multinational maritime partnership, upholds the rules-based international order by countering illicit non-state actors on the high seas and promoting security, stability, and prosperity across approximately 3.2 million square miles of international waters that encompass some of the world’s most important shipping lanes.

RCN conduct counter-smuggling operations
June 2021 – Members of HMCS Calgary conduct counter-smuggling operations in the Arabian Sea during Operation ARTEMIS and as part of Combined Task Force 150. (CAF photo: Capt Jeffery Klassen)

The CMF is not a defensive alliance or law enforcement agency, nor is it bound by treaty. Participation in CMF is voluntary, and no nation is asked to carry out any duty that it is unwilling to conduct. Canada has been periodically contributing to CTF 150 through Canadian warships and/or staff operating at CMF Headquarters since the beginning of the partnership in 2001.

There are three CMF multinational naval task forces:

  • CTF 150 – responsible for maritime security and counter-terrorism;
  • CTF 151 – responsible for counter-piracy; and
  • CTF 152 – responsible for maritime security in the Persian Gulf.

Vice-Admiral Bob Auchterlonie, Commander Canadian Joint Operations Command, notes that by “increasing stability in the region and protecting legitimate trade, the threat of criminal and terrorist activities is reduced both in the Middle East and further abroad.”    

RCN Boarding operation
June 2021 – CAF members conduct counter-smuggling boarding operations in the Arabian Sea during Operation ARTEMIS and as part of Combined Task Force 150. (CAF photo: Cpl Lynette Ai Dang)


RCN shows off confiscated contraband
June 2021 – Members of HMCS Calgary stand with contraband seized during counter-smuggling operations in the Arabian Sea during Op ARTEMIS and as part of Combined Task Force 150. (CAF: Cpl Lynette Ai Dang

This was Canada’s fifth command of CTF 150, a multinational task force dedicated to countering terrorism and promoting maritime security. Canada was in Command of CTF 150 during the dates noted below:

  • 3 Jun 2008 – 15 Sept 2008
  • 4 Dec 2013 – 6 Apr 2014
  • 8 Dec 2016 – 13 Apr 2017
  • 6 Dec 2018 – 28 April 2019
  • 27 Jan 2021 – 15 July 2021

Canada has been a part of CTF 150 for two decades, starting in 2001 to 2003 as part of Operation APOLLO, and later from 2004 to 2008, where seven Royal Canadian Navy ships served with CTF 150 on Operation ALTAIR. The mission officially changed its name to Operation ARTEMIS in 2012, and has been called such ever since.

The Canadian command contingent was supported by personnel of the Royal Australian Navy. The combined nature of this team demonstrates the close relationship between Australia and Canada as well as our shared values and interests.