Op Nanook 2014 to feature mock cruise ship mishap near Nunavut capital
Iqaluit will serve as command-control centre for this year's version of annual exercise
If you live in Iqaluit, be prepared later this summer for the sight of camouflage-clad soldiers moving in and out of town on ATVs, helicopters, Twin Otters and Hercules aircraft.
This year’s version of the federal government’s Operation Nanook exercise, the eighth since 2007, will feature a mock search and rescue in Davis Strait and the simulated grounding of a cruise ship at York Sound, say documents filed July 2 with the Nunavut Impact Review Board.
If weather or ice conditions are bad, they’ll move most of the cruise ship exercise to Laird Peninsula, using a block of land that starts about 15 km down the bay from Iqaluit.
Like all the others, this year’s Operation Nanook is planned as a “whole-of-government” exercise.
In it, Canadian army infantry members will team up with the Coast Guard, the Royal Canadian Navy, the RCMP, the Royal Danish Navy, the Government of Nunavut and other agencies to do emergency response exercises.
In a project proposal filed with the NIRB, they say they’ll base this year’s command and control hub in Iqaluit from Aug. 4 to Sept. 19 this year.
But the most important activities will run from about Aug. 20 to Aug. 29.
The first will involve a simulated search and rescue connected to a distressed fishing vessel in Davis Strait.
In that one, an RCN vessel will drop two life-rafts into Davis Strait, each one containing mannequins representing seriously injured casualties.
The Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Halifax will start an aerial search, using aircraft based in Iqaluit and other centres.
After the JRCC locate the life rafts, a search and rescue technician will drop into the water to provide medical help, while aircraft and naval ships will evacuate the simulated casualties.
As part of the search and rescue exercise, the armed forces will do ground search training at York Sound, including glacier rescue techniques, high angle rescues and survival training.
At the same time, search and rescue technicians will be parachuted into the York Sound area, where they will be expected to survive on their own for several days until they’re extracted by helicopter.
The second part of Operation Nanook, described as its centre-piece, will occur between Aug. 24 and Aug. 28.
In that one, a medium-sized cruise ship will run into problems in Frobisher Bay and start heading for Iqaluit, where local officials will expect to be overwhelmed by the number of passengers.
On its way into Iqaluit, the cruise ship will run into more trouble and look for a safe anchorage at York Sound, where it will run aground.
After SAR techs are dropped into York Sound to evaluate the situation, a Hercules transport aircraft will drop more Canadian forces members along with what’s called a Major Air Disaster Aid Kit — which contains shelter, clothing and supplies for survivors.
In total, the armed forces will send about 250 people to York Sound, including an immediate reaction unit of about 100 troops, who will help evacuate passengers from the beach area, who will be played by other armed forces members.
The armed forces will not restrict access to hunting and fishing at York Sound, the project description states.
But they said that for a few hours on Aug. 26, they will required a cleared drop zone of about 500 metres by 1,000 metres.
“The exact location, size, date and time of this air drop will be subject to weather,” the project description said.
If York Sound cannot be used because of weather and ice conditions, then the armed forces will use Laird Peninsula, where they will conduct similar activities.
The armed forces plan to use between 40 and 50 four-wheeler ATVs, up to six CH-146 Griffon helicopters, three Twin Otters, two CH-149 Cormorant helicopters, two C-130 Hercules aircraft, two C-177 Globemaster aircraft and one CC-150 Polaris aircraft, and a variety of naval vessels, the project description said.
The NIRB has accepted the proposal for screening and the armed forces have applied to the Qikiqtani Inuit Association for permission to gain access to Inuit owned lands for some of the Operation Nanook activities.