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.

Since the graduation of ENBP Team 1, the team has honed its skills during exercise TRIDENT FURY alongside the U.S. Navy. During TRIDENT FURY, the team conducted several obstructed boarding scenarios and did so very ably.

The ENBP teams are designed to be the first step toward reaching completion of the NBP3.0 goal of having an advanced naval boarding party (ANBP) capable of conducting independent operations. The ANBPs are to be the main unit of the MTOG, a stand-alone unit consisting of up to 100 operators on a three-year rotation to one of four ANBP teams.

After the creation of Team 1, the ENBP team was attached to the HMCS Winnipeg. The HMCS Winnipeg is a modernized high-readiness frigate that has recently undergone upgrades to its “Combat Management System, radar capability, a new electronic warfare system, upgraded communications, and more advanced missiles.” [5] The HMCS Winnipeg deployed in early July 2015 as part of Operation REASSURANCE, Canada’s contribution to NATO’s Eastern European assurance measures. The HMCS Winnipeg, along with ENBP Team 1, has been attached to the Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2) to support maritime interdiction operations and NATO counterinsurgency operations. If past HMCS deployments are any indication of what is to be expected, the HMCS Winnipeg and the new ENBP Team 1 will be a welcome addition to SNMG2 and could prove to be an essential capability to the NATO maritime operations in the region.

For more information on the Royal Canadian Navy Maritime Tactical Operations Group, contact your local recruiting office or your base personnel selections officer.