HMCS Ottawa operates in coordination with CP-140 Aurora aircraft, SLapshot 99 in the Asia-Pacific region during Operation NEON on October 23, 2019. Photo: Leading Seaman Victoria Ioganov

407 Squadron returns to 19 Wing Comox following Operation NEON

407 Long Range Patrol Squadron (407 Squadron), based at 19 Wing Comox, recently returned from a stint overseas as part of Operation (Op) NEON, Canada’s contribution to supporting UN sanctions imposed against North Korea.

From its home on the western coast of British Columbia, in the inspiring Comox Valley, flanked by mountains to one side and the sea to the other, 407 Squadron can be seen in the skies regularly, training, amongst other tasks, maritime surveillance, a skill which came in handy in the Asia-Pacific region during Op NEON.

“Despite the challenging conditions between the difficult weather and the density of surface contacts [the high amount of ships on the sea], we were able to successfully identify, image and track vessels that were of interest to us and our allies,” said Capt. Brad Rouleau, aircraft commander of the CP-140 Aurora. “It was also great working with the HMCS Ottawa who was also in the area tracking these vessels from the surface.”

Both the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Royal Canadian Navy were employed on Op NEON, as part of the Canadian government’s ongoing commitment supporting the multi-national effort to enforce UN Security Council Resolutions against North Korea.

The operation is a surveillance initiative that looks for any vessel that appears to be contravening the sanctions against North Korea in the East China Sea and in the Sea of Japan.

The most recent set of sanctions, derived from that 2017 UN Security Council resolution, reiterate that North Korea is continuing to develop its nuclear missile program. The resolution outlines a prohibited list of equipment, materials, and supplies that all UN member states must ensure do not reach North Korea.

These items include crude oil above a limited amount, refined petroleum products, electrical equipment, industrial machinery etc. It is easy to see the theme of the list: items that can contribute to weapons development in some shape or form.

Through Canada’s defence policy – Strong, Secure, Engaged – the Canadian government is committed to working with regional partners and allies to ensure that global governance is upheld. North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, its ballistic missile program, and maintenance of a chemical and biological weapon program has wide-ranging implications threatening international peace and stability. We have those two things here on the West Coast, peace and stability, and 407 Squadron, as with the rest of the Canadian Armed Forces, works hard to ensure that we keep it that way.

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