Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Calgary rescued a sea turtle in distress while on counter-smuggling patrols in direct support to CMF’s Combined Task Force 150 (CTF-150) off the coast of Oman.
The rescue occurred around 7:30 a.m. on 4 May, after the turtle was spotted by the ship’s Navigating Officer Lieutenant (Navy) (Lt(N)) Evan Park. The turtle was struggling helplessly in netting and other debris that had formed together after being adrift at sea. Lt(N) Park sought approval by the ship’s Commanding Officer Commander (Cdr) Mark O’Donohue to dispatch a small boat team.
“It’s unfortunate but we often see debris of this type at sea. I have made it a habit when on watch to take a closer inspection in these situations to see if sea life is in danger, when it’s safe for the ship to do so,” said Lt(N) Park.
The small boat team was promptly dispatched, and two boatswains spent 15 minutes delicately cutting the tangled mess of lines that had wrapped around the turtle’s body. Once freed, it swam off to join other sea turtles that were circling the floating debris along with a large school of yellow tuna.
“It must have been out there for days. The nets had wrapped around it in many different places and had made little impressions in its skin,” said Sailor First Class (S1) Michael Sladic, who, along with S1 Coree Ranville, set the turtle free.
Saving sea creatures in distress is not a mandate of Canadian warships but it is sometimes done. HMCS Calgary is currently deployed on Operation ARTEMIS, patrolling Middle Eastern waters in order to conduct counter-smuggling operations. The purpose of the mission is to seize narcotics and other illicit goods that are used to fund regional terrorist and criminal organizations.
This work is done as part of Combined Task Force 150, a subsection of CMF. HMCS Calgary has had seven counter-narcotics busts on its current operation, including the seizure of 1,286 kg of heroin – the largest heroin bust in CMF history.
“In the navy, I’m driven towards the operational side of things, and the counter-smuggling work we are doing out here is awesome. That said, saving the sea turtle was something special. It was great seeing the crew get passionate about this, to see everyone rush to the upper decks. It’s a career highlight for sure,” said Lt(N) Park.