This was in today's local paper, and I am sure in a lot of other ones too:
Esquimalt based sailors capture terror suspects
Gerard Young Times Colonist (Victoria) Tuesday, July 16, 2002
Navy Sub-Lieut. Cameron Tkachuk's heart raced as he and his heavily armed boarding team realized they were about to capture suspected terrorists.
The Esquimalt-based warship HMCS ALGONQUIN caught two suspected al-Qaeda terrorists on the weekend after hunting down three boats in the Gulf of Oman. The two men, who were later turned over to the Americans for questioning, were among 26 people found in small boats in the north Arabian Sea.
Coalition forces have nabbed al-Qaeda and Taliban terrorists on the ground around Afghanistan, but this was the first such capture on the water since operations began after Sept. 11.
"I'll admit when we positively identified them my heart started beating a little faster and I got a lump in my throat," said Tkachuk.
But with ALGONQUIN nearly 230 metres away and his boarding party pulling up alongside the small boat, the Saskatoon-area native focused on his training and the job at hand. When the mission was complete, he reflected on coming face to face with two men suspected of having links to those who attacked the United States on Sept. 11.
"You see them as human beings but you also realize they may have an ulterior motive," he said Monday night by satellite phone from the Gulf of Oman.
ALGONQUIN's Capt. Gary Paulson briefly saw the two men, in their mid-20s to early 30s, when they arrived on board the warship, but he didn't allow himself to think beyond the task.
The ship was patrolling with three to five coalition vessels about 50 nautical miles from Iran on one side and Oman and the United Arab Emirates on the other.
The area, close to the Strait of Hormuz separating the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, is busy with a variety of traffic, including boats carrying refugees, mostly from Iran.
Several of the 8.2-metre aluminum speedboats that the navy dubs "go-fasts" caught the attention of the patrol.
The French destroyer Guepratte made initial contact with one boat, which was later found to have a dozen Afghans, 10 Pakistanis and four Iranians.
The ALGONQUIN boarding party later approached, offering food and water. They obtained photos, identification and other information from passengers before returning to ALGONQUIN.
Commodore Eric Lerhe, commander of the Canadian task force in the area, ordered ALGONQUIN to keep an eye on three boats while intelligence checks were done on the occupants.
"It was then deemed a suspect vessel," Paulson said, adding that the three boats were travelling together.
"As we closed on the three boats at nights -- the boats aren't lit -- they scattered, went in different directions."
A Dutch long-range patrol aircraft tracked the target craft with the suspected terrorists. ALGONQUIN caught up to the boat after a chase through dark and hazy seas.
Other coalition vessels got the other two, but it was determined there were legitimate refugees on board. They were released after being given food and water.
ALGONQUIN put a strong light on the smaller vessel and the boarding party was dispatched even though the order had not come to take anyone into custody. The six members of the boarding party carried nine-millimetre handguns on their sides, two had submachine guns and others carried pepper spray as well as batons.
With the Dutch plane and a helicopter providing further armed cover, the boarding party in its rigid-hull inflatable boat (RHIB) pulled beside the go-fast.
The American commander of the John F. Kennedy battle group gave Lerhe the go-ahead to apprehend the two suspects. Paulson, on the bridge, then ordered Tkachuk to go ahead.
Tkachuk realized that all the passengers were drained from an 18-hour day in the hot sun and humidity in an open-air vessel. He believes the two suspects were not really aware what the boarding party was up to while passing out fruit and water.
When the order came down, the boarding party simply asked the two suspects to come into the RHIB because they had more questions for them. The pair accepted the explanation and freely went on board the RHIB, which immediately began to pull away from the go-fast.
The two men were separated and made to flatten out on the bottom of the RHIB, where they were searched for weapons, then guarded. The men were not armed but Tkachuk wouldn't say what, if anything, was found on them. The two never protested their innocence or questioned why they were being detained though they spoke basic English,
The boarding team decided it would be easier to leave them uncuffed and get them to climb aboard ALGONQUIN on the rope-and-wood ladder, a chore that demands concentration and both hands.
They were immediately handcuffed when they came onto the warship, then taken to the ship's helicopter hangar. They were given medical checkups, provided with jumpsuits, fed and put in separate makeshift cells at either end of the boat. They were also briefly interviewed.
The next morning they were flown by helicopter to the aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy and turned over to the U.S. Navy.
"I am proud of the ship's company and I am proud of the coalition effort," said Paulson, whose ship has already done 1,000 hailings and 38 boardings.
"It was a challenge to wrangle them, to find them at sea," he said. "We did the take-down in darkness, late at night. We also recognize the coalition efforts."
Leading Seaman Shawn Gillis, a Cape Breton native who was on the boarding party, suggested that the mission was executed perfectly.
Everything worked by the book, said Gillis, who has a wife and teenage stepdaughter in Victoria.
"We're extremely proud of what we did, the ship's company, the command and the coalition forces," he said.
Especially, he said, he's proud that Canadian forces, which often don't get recognition internationally for peacekeeping and other military efforts, did the job.
Air force Maj. Tony White, a spokesman for Canada's OPERATION APOLLO headquartered with coalition forces in Tampa. Fla., said the capture is a coup for the Canadian navy.
"This is significant," he said, explaining that the area the navy is patrolling is vast and very busy.
ALGONQUIN is an air defence destroyer. The ship left Esquimalt March 23 and is halfway through its deployment, which is scheduled to conclude on Thanksgiving Day.
It serves as a command ship for a Canadian task force in the Arabian Sea. HMCS OTTAWA, a patrol frigate, and the supply ship HMCS PROTECTEUR are part of the task force. Halifax-based warships are involved as well.
Patrol frigate HMCS VANCOUVER returned home last month after a seven-month stint in the Arabian Sea with the USS John C. Stennis carrier battle group.
© Copyright 2002 Times Colonist (Victoria)
This is a job well done. And a little ray of sunshine in dark times. I was aboard the VANCOUVER during this last deployment. I am glad to hear the guys in the ALGONQUIN were able to make good on the task.
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07-16-2002, 03:35 PM #1
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Last edited by MalahatTwo7; 07-16-2002 at 03:38 PM.If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)
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07-16-2002, 05:56 PM #2iceman4442Firehouse.com Guest
Way to go!
I'm getting off duty in less than 10 minutes, so I guess I'll have to tip a cold one in honor of the crew of the HMCS Algonquin!
Come to think of it, I'll tip another cold one for all the Canadian brothers (& sisters) out there!
While I'm at it, I'll maybe tip another one or two for all the U.S. Military personnel in harm's way..
Better have another for all the other coalition and allied personnal as well...
Can't leave out all the fire, EMS, and Law enforcement folks out there....
Man, almost forgot myself!
I'm in a better mood already............cheers!
07-17-2002, 08:23 AM #3
Only thing I can say is KEEP EM COMING! Great Job!09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
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07-17-2002, 08:59 AM #4
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Thank you. For the information, and your country's support.Chris Minick, P.E., Firefighter II
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