103 SAR Squadron tops competition in Yellowknife

In the spirit of traditional, friendly competition during National Search and Rescue Exercise,  103 SAR Squadron from 9 Wing Gander, N.L., emerged with the Diamond Trophy by winning best overall SAR squadron after five intense exercise days.

The exercise conducted in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, from September 18-24 highlighted the importance of conducting real-world SAR missions and training to ensure crews are ready to respond when Canadians are in distress.

The value of the exercise was further underlined when exercise participants unexpectedly provided real-time assistance to a canoeist in distress on Great Slave Lake, Northwest Territories. In a separate incident, participants also rescued four individuals from a remote area near Ulukhaktok, Northwest Territories.

A CH-149 Cormorant helicopter at the SAREX 2016 . Photo: MCpl Pat Blanchard.

A CH-149 Cormorant helicopter at the SAREX 2016 . Photo: MCpl Pat Blanchard.

The Akaitcho Territorial Government, the Yellowknives Dene First Nation, as well as the people and municipal authorities of Yellowknife and the surrounding area, provided their tremendous support and hospitality shown during National SAREX 2016.

This annual national exercise, National SAREX 2016, involved more than 230 participants and international guest observers. The training brought together the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Public Safety Canada and Transport Canada. The Civil Air Search and Rescue Association (CASARA), The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and ground search and rescue elements also played a prominent role during the major air disaster simulation that took place on Friday, September 23, 2016.

Participating RCAF SAR and transport units included:

  • 103 Search and Rescue Squadron, 9 Wing Gander
  • 413 Transport and Rescue Squadron,  14 Wing Greenwood
  • 417 Combat Support Squadron,  4 Wing Cold Lake
  • 424 Transport and Rescue Squadron, 8 Wing Trenton
  • 435 Transport and Rescue Squadron, 17 Wing Winnipeg
  • 439 Combat Support Squadron, 3 Wing Bagotville
  • 440 Transport Squadron, Yellowknife
  • 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron, 19 Wing Comox
  • 444 Combat Support Squadron, 5 Wing Goose Bay
  • Canadian Forces School of Search and Rescue based at 19 Wing Comox
  • Representatives from the Joint Rescues Coordination Centers from Victoria, Trenton, and Halifax
Sergeant Marc Tremblay and Master Corporal Sam Howard, Search And Rescue Technicians. Photo: MCpl Pat Blanchard,

Sergeant Marc Tremblay and Master Corporal Sam Howard, Search And Rescue Technicians. Photo: MCpl Pat Blanchard,

A variety of RCAF aircraft were utilized during the exercise, including:

  • CH-149 Cormorant helicopter
  • CH-146 Griffon helicopter
  • CC-130H Hercules
  • CC-138 Twin Otter
  • Other participating organizations included:
  • Public Safety Canada
  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  • Transport Canada
  • Environment and Climate Change Canada
  • Canadian Rangers
  • The Royal Canadian Mounted Police
  • Nav Canada
  • The Civil Air Search and Rescue Association (CASARA)
  • Yellowknife Airport

Author: Nestor Arellano

Nestor Arellano is editor of Vanguard Magazine. Nestor is a seasoned journalist who has written extensively on defence and military industry issues as well as technology and business developments. He is also associate editor of Vanguard's sister publication, IT in Canada.

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