By TONY SEED
(February 11, updated February 13) – About a week ago, the Canadian frigate HMCS Charlottetown departed from Halifax with none of the fanfare accorded two other warships, the HMCS Kingston and HMCS Shawnigan, which were ceremoniously deployed from Halifax to the Gulf of Guinea in West Africa on January 22nd.
HMCS Charlottetown had sailed into Halifax on January 19 following a six-month deployment overseas in NATO exercises in the Baltic and Mediterranean seas as part of Operation Reassurance.
On February 8th, the warship’s Facebook page informed:
“HMCS CHARLOTTETOWN arrived in Fort Lauderdale, Florida today! The ship’s company played softball and enjoyed a show from the ship’s band! Great start to our port visit!Æ
Are signals being sent?
No information on the destination or the purpose of the deployment is available. We are to believe that the 200 sailors onboard a modern warship are vacationing snowbirds on the taxpayer’s dime. It is disingenuous to say the least. At a time of an all-round economic, political, media and military-naval blockade of Venezuela, the specifics of this mission are secret or portrayed as “routine”. Such deployments are offensive operations, not defensive. Canada’s coastline is a thousand miles away, indicating that in fact it is the Canadian warship which is the suspicious vessel. Are signals being sent?
In related news, NATO has deployed a British warship to the Dutch colony of Curaçao, 50 miles off the coast of Venezuela. The HMS Mounts Bay, a giant Royal Fleet Auxiliary landing ship, spent New Year in Miami. It then sailed south to within 50 miles of the Venezuelan coast and docked in Caracas Baii on Curaçao by January 21 – one day before US Vice President Mike Pence annointed an “interim president” in Venezuela. The Royal Navy claims the vessel is working on counternarcotics “take-down” operations with the US Southern Command, which is this branch of the Pentagon that would lead any attack on Venezuela. Since 1999, it has maintained two bases on the island that have long been used for espionage flights to survey Venezuelan military bases. Tweets from SOUTHCOM inform that a US Coast Guard vessel has also arrived in Curaçao.
On February 12, the HMCS Charlottetown departed from Fort Everglades (part of the Port Lauderdale harbour), according to marinetraffic.com.
Previously in December Canadian warships stationed to the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific coast of Central America in the annual “Op Caribbe” maneouvres returned after an approximate three-month deployment. It is not a state secret that the warships operate under the command of the US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) in Operation Martillo, the so-called drug interdiction program, with U.S. officers stationed aboard. HMCS Moncton conducted patrols of the Caribbean Sea while HMCS Whitehorse and HMCS Edmonton operated in the eastern Pacific Ocean.
This deployment was initiated in 2006 under the pretext of the “war on drugs” in the context of a tour by Prime Minister Stephen Harper of several countries in South America and the Caribbean, during which he called Venezuela a “rogue state.”
The Charlottetown narrative is all reminiscent of the “Caribops” exercises in the 1980.
The Halifax media portrayed military deployments to the Caribbean as “fun in the sun,” where crew were able to take advantage of the warm waters to repaint the ships and help the locals fix up tattered schools. The “fun” included shelling the island of Vieques in occupied Puerto Rico with depleted uranium shells in sea-to-shore artillery exercises and participating in US war exercises such as “Ocean Venture” that rehearsed the invasion of Grenada in 1983.
The movement and presence of the naval forces of Canada and NATO in the Caribbean cannot be ignored or minimized during these dangerous times. In the light of the developments in Latin America and the aggressive support of the Trudeau government for regime change in Venezuela, vigilance by Canadians is imperative.
Update February 13
I asked Steffan Watkins, who specializes in monitoring unusual aircraft and ship movements, to ascertain the direction of the HMCS Charlottetown after its departure from Fort Lauderdale. He informs:
Not sure, but they’re headed the wrong way for VZ; ~200NM SE of Charleston, South Carolina, visible on AIS-S, headed North sort-of toward Norfolk. Probably exercises with the #USNavy, I’d guess. I had expected a trip to AUTEC, but maybe not this time!*
In other words, the Canadian government sent a warship to Florida, where its crew played softball and listened to the crew’s band, and then turned around and headed North.
It is known that Maritime Command operates under the 2nd Atlantic Fleet commander, based in Norfolk, the world’s largest naval base, who at the same time is commander, NATO fleet.
* The Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center (AUTEC) is located in Andros Island in The Bahamas. The center is utilized for testing of new types of weaponry. Globalsecurity.org defines it as “the Navy’s premier east coast in-water test facility.” AUTEC’s website explains that the center is “affiliated with the NATO FORACS [Naval Forces Sensor and Weapon Accuracy Check Site] program and the eight participating NATO member nations: Canada, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Italy, Norway, the United Kingdom, and the United States.”