Chennai, Sept.9 : Canadian warships -- the HMS Calgary and the HMS Protecteur -- will make a three-day stopover in Chennai on Wednesday (September 10), as they embark on their return journey around the globe after a four month counter-terrorism deployment to the Arabian Sea as part of a multinational coalition known as Combined Task Force (CTF) 150.
The Commanding Officer of the multi-purpose frigate Calgary, Commander Kelly Larkin, will be available to speak to the press shortly after his ship's arrival at approximately 11 a.m. There will also be an opportunity for members of the media to briefly tour the Canadian frigate after the exchange with the ship's Captain.
"Sailors onboard are excited about the opportunity to visit India. They are eager to interact with residents of Chennai and experience the sights and sounds of India," said Cdr. Larkin. "More than a hundred of them have also volunteered their time to work on the facilities at a local school and at a Research Foundation."
Captain Steven Heemskerk, the Padre onboard Protecteur, liaised with officials at the Servasev Vidhyalaya School in Manithottam and at the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF). He will be spearheading the two voluntary charitable projects taking place while the ships are alongside.
Canadian sailors wanting to make a substantial contribution that would have a lasting effect on those they reached out to requested funding from their Task Force Arabian Sea (TFAS) Commander who approved the use of his Contingency fund to purchase 16,000 dollars worth of much needed equipment.
Donations are being used to purchase computers, geometry boxes, library books and lab materials that will benefit several schools in the area. For the MSSRF, items such binoculars, digital cameras, laptop computers and assorted stationary are also being donated.
"We plan to do earth work and foundation laying for the construction of a new cultural and heritage hall for the school," declared Capt. Heemskerk.
"Many of the volunteers are skilled professionals in their field and their expertise can be greatly beneficial to such construction projects," he added.
Canadian sailors dispatched to the school hope to assist with the construction of a brick wall, white wash newly constructed class rooms and begin the construction of a compound wall of a school. At the research facility, painting the exterior of a small building and working on the rain water harvesting pond, which is empty and in need of cleaning and clearing will be the tasks at hand.
Calgary and the Auxiliary Oil Replenishment ship Protecteur departed their Esquimalt homeport on 13 April 2008.
The last Canadian warship visit to India dates back to 2006 when Calgary's sister ship HMCS Ottawa stopped in Goa while returning home from the same mission. Calgary, Iroquois and Protecteur are the 22nd, 23rd, and 24th Canadian ships to serve in the Arabian Sea region since the 9-11 attacks in 2001.
HMCS Iroquois, the destroyer and TFAS flagship will remain in theatre until the end of the month, after it turns over its CTF 150 flagship duties to Her Danish Majesty's Ship Absalon on September 15th in a Change of Command Ceremony between the outgoing Canadian Commander, Commodore Bob Davidson, and his replacement, Danish Commodore Per Bigum Christensen.