For the tenth year, Canada is taking part in Operation Caribbe, a multinational effort aimed at stemming the flow of drugs, weapons and cash from the Caribbean and Central America.
This year, HMCS Summerside and her sister ship HMCS Moncton departed Halifax last month for the two month mission.
- Canadian military helps U.S. seize 1.1 tonnes of cocaine
- HMCS Athabaskan going to Caribbean for Operation Caribbe
Lieutenant-Commander Paul Smith is commanding officer of the Summerside and told CBC P.E.I.'s Mainstreet Friday the mission involves regular patrols and searches of targets with the help of the U.S. Coast Guard.
"There are known trade routes, we monitor them first," he said. "But there's also unknown routes, unknown targets so if we happen to see something during the patrol, we'll stop and hail them as well."
Smith said the mission just started so they've had no searches yet, but they have hailed a few vessels and questioned captains.
He said Canada doesn't have the legal authority to board vessels so that job is handed off to the U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment.
If a vessel is found that they want to board, HMCS Summerside will transport an eight member team to the vessel in question and they will conduct a full search. That search can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days.
Last year, HMCS Brandon and HMCS Whitehorse were Canada's contribution to Operation Caribbe and helped seize almost 10,000 kilograms of narcotics.
Smith said Canada's role is mostly a supportive one and the day-to-day duties for the crew aren't much different from a typical day at sea.
"However, they have to be made aware of special requirements of being out for law enforcement so we had four days of training on the way down," he said.
Halfway through the mission there will be a four day port stop for crew to get some down time.