Pubdate: Sat, 27 Apr 2013
Source: Windsor Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2013 The Windsor Star
Author: Lee Berthiaume


Bad maps are being blamed after Canadian naval reservists
participating in the U.S.-led war on drugs last year sparked a
diplomatic flap by firing their weapons and intercepting fishing
trawlers in Jamaican waters - without Jamaica's permission.

The embarrassing incident, which has never before been publicly
reported, broke international maritime law - not the first time legal
questions have been raised about Canada's increasing involvement in
the drug war.

On March 27, 2012, the HMCS Goose Bay and Kingston were patrolling
south of Jamaica as part of Operation Caribbe, Canada's contribution
to an ongoing, U.S.-led anti-drug trafficking mission in the Caribbean
and East Pacific.

Documents obtained by Postmedia News show that at one point, crew
members on both vessels began firing their ships' weapons, including
large 50-calibre machine guns, as part of a live-fire training exercise.

The Goose Bay also deployed its small rigid-hulled inflatable boat on
two occasions that day to intercept and identify 17 small fishing
vessels to ensure they weren't carrying cocaine, marijuana or were
involved in any other illicit activity.

The Goose Bay and Kingston also reportedly pulled up alongside one
vessel that Jamaican officials said had a "retired senior political
figure on board."

The Goose Bay and Kingston are Kingston-class maritime coastal defence
vessels that are much smaller than the navy's frigates and destroyers,
crewed almost entirely by reservists, and generally used for
patrolling Canada's coasts.

It was only the next day, when the head of the Jamaican coast guard
contacted Canadian authorities to complain, that defence officials
realized the Goose Bay and Kingston had been in Jamaican territory and
not international waters.

"HMCS Goose Bay and Kingston inadvertently conducted live weapons
training and other maritime operations in Jamaican territorial
waters," the document reads, "in contravention of international
maritime law."

The mistake was quickly attributed to the Canadian vessels'

"This was an oversight," according to the documents' talking points
prepared in case media got wind of the story. 
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MAP posted-by: Jo-D