In recent years, the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) has been a little behind the times, but lately they have really been pushing to up their game. Since their recent discipline issues and ships malfunctioning at sea, the RCN has buckled down and begun upgrading their capabilities. Recent press releases have officially announced the awarding of contracts for upgrading the current RCN fleet, replacing the Sea King helicopters, acquiring amphibious assault vessels, and building the new joint-support ship. The RCN also announced in early 2014 the creation of the Maritime Tactical Operations Group (MTOG), which could bring about a huge increase in their boarding parties’ tactical capabilities.

The Canadian Navy’s standard boarding parties have proven their worth in the past. Of note, the HMCS Toronto made a record drug bust of 280 kg of heroin during interdiction operations in the Indian Ocean in January of 2014. During the operation, the HMCS Toronto was part of an international task force that recovered a total of 538 kg of heroin. The Navy boarding parties were effective at conducting searches and detaining prisoners. The new MTOG boarding parties are trained to maintain those skills while expanding their abilities to react to threats. The purpose of the MTOG position is to “increase agility, flexibility, and tactical expertise to confront and deter a variety of threats in high-risk operational environments.”[1] This training includes increased weapons and CQB training, and advanced IED/EOD training.

070902-N-8629D-021 PACIFIC OCEAN (Sept. 2, 2007) - A Canadian CH-124 Sea King performs deck landing qualifications on board dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52) during PANAMAX 2007. PANAMAX 2007 is a joint and multinational training exercise tailored to the defense of the Panama Canal, involving civil and military forces from the region. U.S. Navy photo by Lt. j.g. Brett Dawson (RELEASED)
A Canadian CH-124 Sea King, soon to be phased out.

The MTOG is designed to increase the capabilities of RCN boarding parties and “to fill the gap between what our special forces can do and what we need to do on our own as a navy.”[2] The MTOG selection phase is a grueling five days during which candidates are “put through a rigorous physical and mental selection process.”[3] If a candidate is successful during MTOG selection, they will then be invited to attempt the Maritime Tactical Operators Course (MTOC). The MTOG’s first operator selection phase occurred in early 2014, followed by MTOC. The first MTOC class graduated in March of 2015 and resulted in 13 operators being qualified and forming the Enhanced Naval Boarding Party (ENBP) Team 1.

The first serial of MTOC was a high-intensity training course in which the candidates became proficient in small-unit tactics, close-quarters battle, small-arms manipulation, IED identification, and tactical questioning. In a fairly short period of time, the 13 MTOG operators graduated and began preparing for deployment. LCdr Lund, the man in charge of the Naval Boarding Party 3.0 (NBP3.0) project, was quoted as saying, “In less than 10 months we have successfully selected, trained, and graduated our first class.”[4] The ENBP Team 1 is still in the trial phase as the first ever ENBP. ENBP Team 2 is currently undergoing training, as the second serial of selection concluded in July 2015 and the second iteration of MTOC begins this month.