Royal Canadian Navy's HMCS Moncton pays visit to Port of Churchill

There's been a lot of buzz about HMCS Moncton, a Royal Canadian Navy ship that's been docked at the Port of Churchill since Tuesday.

Churchill mayor says navy ship a positive sight after port shuts down

HMCS Moncton has been docked at the Port of Churchill since Tuesday after taking part in Operation Nanook, an annual operation conducted by the Canadian Armed Forces which focuses on arctic security. (Patricia Kandiurin)

There's been a lot of buzz about HMCS Moncton, a Royal Canadian Navy ship that's been docked at the Port of Churchill since Tuesday.

It's there as part of "Operation Nanook," an annual government exercise, considered the largest sovereignty operation in Canada's North with the focus on Arctic security and disaster response, according to officials. 

HMCS Moncton was one of two navy vessels patrolling the Hudson Bay over the last week as part of the operation said Rear-Admiral John Newton, commander of Joint Task Force Atlantic and Maritime Forces.

"Right now Moncton and myself are in Churchill where we made a quick port stop to do some community engagement," said Newton.

Newton said the stop in the port is also an opportunity for the navy to engage with the public about the future of Arctic patrol ships.

Some 850 personnel including sailors, soldiers and airmen took part in Operation Nanook from Aug.  21 to Sept. 2.

The exercise took place in Yukon as well as in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut.

The last time the navy was in Churchill was when HMCS St. John's made a stop in August of 2012, Newton said.  

"It's a chance to talk about operations in Hudson Bay and the prospects of our really healthy future as we prepare to deliver the first of the Arctic offshore patrol 2018," he said. 

Newton said the trip is also a learning experience for its crew of 45, adding it's the first time in a long time that the navy has been through these parts of the Hudson Bay.

"It's an area we've rarely gone to since the 1950s. In fact, heading south from Churchill in Hudson Bay is something the navy has not done in many decades," Newton said.

"It's a massive area," he said. "It's utterly massive."

Churchill leaders on board 

Newton said the ship will leave Churchill on Wednesday night.

"The response from the community has been pretty powerful. All the members of city council and key city officials came on board the ship, and it was a two-way dialogue...telling them about the future of maritime patrol in the North."

Churchill Mayor Mike Spence says the navy's visit is welcome after a difficult summer when the community learned the port, which was the town's major employer of about 750 people, was being shut down. 

"It's always good to see a military vessel in your port community, I mean the greater usage of the port is always a good thing," Spence said.

"The marine resupply still happens so they're still moving freight."