The USS Ralph Johnson and HMCS Ottawa join forces in the South China Sea, showcasing their commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.

In a powerful display of maritime collaboration and alliance strengthening, the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Ralph Johnson (DDG 114) has joined forces with the Royal Canadian Navy’s HMCS Ottawa (FFH 341) for Exercise Noble Wolverine in the South China Sea. This wide-ranging fall exercise aims to enhance interoperability between allied navies and reinforce the commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

Noble Wolverine Exercise 2023

Exercise Noble Wolverine, comprising multiple phases, encompasses a spectrum of activities, including maneuvering drills, small boat operations, helicopter flight deck training, and routine bilateral surface operations. One significant highlight of this exercise was the successful execution of a combined at-sea replenishment with the Henry J. Kaiser-class underway replenishment oiler USNS Yukon (T-AO 202) – a testament to the seamless coordination between US and Canadian naval forces.

HMCS Ottawa (FFH 341)
HMCS Ottawa (FFH 341) during exercise Noble Wolverine in the South China Sea. (Image source: DVIDS)

Commander Sam Patchell, the commanding officer of HMCS Ottawa, highlighted the importance of such joint exercises in building trust and interoperability. He stated:

“By continuing to operate in the Indo-Pacific, the Royal Canadian Navy is building relationships with partner nations and reinforcing partnerships with our allies like the US Navy. Joint exercises such as Noble Wolverine build a level of trust and interoperability that can only be forged at sea.”

Cross-Decking Cooperation: Strengthening Bonds between US, Canadian Sailors

The USS Ralph Johnson, forward-deployed to Yokosuka, Japan, operates under Commander Task Force (CTF) 71 and Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15. During the exercise’s small boat operations phase, Commander Patchell and a contingent of Ottawa sailors embarked on the US destroyer ship, facilitating hands-on cooperation and knowledge exchange between the two naval forces. In a reciprocated gesture, several Ralph Johnson sailors also boarded HMCS Ottawa, further solidifying the bond between the crews.

Commander Isaia Infante, the commanding officer of USS Ralph Johnson, emphasized the significance of Noble Wolverine and its practical benefits in strengthening the collaboration between the allied sailors. It allows both sailors to improve their ability to work together efficiently and effectively, which is vital for successful joint military operations.

“We know that people across the region share our dedication to a free and open Indo-Pacific, and we’re excited to work with all of those partners and allies in pursuit of our shared goals,” Infante added.