Navy sends replacement Sea King helicopter to HMCS Toronto
Published Saturday, September 27, 2014 10:04PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, September 29, 2014 11:00AM EDT
HMCS Toronto patrolled the Black Sea for the past week during a NATO exercise with a grounded Sea King helicopter and one broken generator.
The navy ship is a 22-year-old Canadian war vessel. The Sea Kings are even older than the ship.
The fleet of helicopters is 50 years old and they require extensive maintenance to remain operational. A week-long outage is nothing new, and critics say the helicopters are long past their prime.
But Air Force pilot Antonio Gomez says there's still life in the Sea Kings, and he doesn’t have any problem flying them.
“The fact they're 50 years old, it means we know we know everything there is to know about them,” he told CTV News. “They very rarely throw us any curveballs or any unforeseen circumstances.”
When chopper broke down this past week, National Defence was forced to send a replacement all the way from its base in Nova Scotia on a C17 transport plane.
Commander Jason Armstrong says HMCS Toronto was never in any jeopardy while it patrolled off the coast of Crimea, without the helicopter. The ship has sensors and defense capabilities.
While the ship awaited the replacement chopper, a generator broke down on the ship. There were 3 backup generators and it took a few days to make the repairs.
The fleet of Sea Kings are supposed to be retired sometime next year, to be replaced by a new fleet of Cyclone helicopters.
HMCS Toronto is also slated for an overhaul around the same time frame.
Until then, "Operation Active Endeavour" will keep the crew in the Mediterranean until the end of the year.
The Halifax-based frigate is patrolling the Black Sea as part of "Operation Reassurance," a multinational training mission aimed at building security amid pro-Russian separatist aggression in Ukraine.
With a report by Richard Madan