Canada joins Japan and US in Asian warship drills

YOKOSUKA: Built to hunt Russian submarines, Canadian frigate HMCS Calgary is instead chasing Japanese and US subs in western Pacific drills as Canada joins other maritime nations in seeking to contain Chinese influence in the Indo Pacific.

“The expectation is to see one, if not two ships, on a year round basis doing a variety of things with a variety of partners in the region,” Commander Blair Saltel, the captain of Calgary, said in Yokosuka, Japan.

His ship, docked at the naval base near Tokyo along with Canadian navy supply ship the Asterix, left Canada in July on a mission that has taken it through the East China Sea, to Australia and into the contested South China Sea, where it encountered curious Chinese warships.

Last week, it joined Japanese and US warships, including the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier, for anti-submarine warfare exercises in the Western Pacific that were part of the biggest combat readiness war game ever staged in and around Japan.

“There’s an opportunity for Canada to demonstrate that we have experience working with allies within coalitions,” said Saltel.

Canada’s decision to deploy ships to Asian naval exercises comes as other nations, including Britain and France, bolster their presence in a region, fearing China’s growing military power could see vital commercial sea lanes come under Beijing’s sway. — Reuters