Friday, August 14, 2009

Operation Apollo: The Golden Age of the Canadian Navy in the War Against Terrorism

By Dr Richard Gimblett
Magic Light Publishing Ottawa ISBN 1894673166 2004. Includes a DVD video.
Within the Canadian Forces, the Navy made the largest contribution to the War on Terrorism with 16 major warships and 4,000 sailors deployed over a two-year period-practically the entire navy was sent to the Arabian Sea. Canadian warships were among the first assets deployed to the War on terrorism and we were the third largest contributor after the US and the UK.
Dr. Gimblett's book tells the story of the tireless and selfless efforts of thousands of Canadian sailors who participated in this critical campaign in and around the Arabian Sea, and whose role was pivotal to the mission's success from North America to Europe.
This book is the result of quite an effort that included visiting the Persian Gulf region by the author.
The author says that this period was the second "Golden Age" of the Canadian Navy; a point that is certainly debatable.
The author was also an officer onboard HMCS Protecteur in the first Gulf War in 1991. Protecteur successfully conducted a crew swap with the crew of sister HMCS Preserver flown into theater with original crew flying home to crew the latter. An explanation of why was not done during Operation Apollo would certainly have been warranted.
The inability to field enough Sea King helicopters is glossed over without criticism by the author. The deployment of HMCS Algonquin with no helicopters from Esquimalt was met with incredulity by writers and analysts in the US and elsewhere. When the now scrapped HMCS Provider was on the West Coast, she would routinely embark a USNR Sea King for training. One can only assume this was no longer done to avoid embarrassment to former Prime Minister Jean Chretien.
A few minor quibbles with the book:
Proofreading - Examples of better proofreading include mention of US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in 2000 instead of 2001 when he took office. In another part of the book the word "equipments" slipped through; a word not in the English language.
No mention of why frigate HMCS Ville de Quebec never deployed to the region.
No mention of the rumored difficulty in obtaining enough officers due to the requirement to undergo French language training.
Use of the French spelling for HMCS Montreal.
Mention of HMCS Calgary on the back cover serving as a caption to a photo of HMCS Toronto.
The book is profusely illustrated with color photographs and artwork from John Horton, a well known marine artist from Steveston BC.
Anyone interested in Canadian naval history will like this work. It is recommended.

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