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The Frigates

By now most Defense Command readers will be familiar with my blatant thievery when it comes to building the fleet that protects Earth in the 2230s. Aside from invoking Second World War veteran HMCS Sackville, and borrowing battle ideas from the likes of Admiral the Lord Howe, I’ve also consistently ripped off the modern Royal Canadian Navy. Indeed, I’ve always felt (perhaps hoped) that the Belt Squadron draws upon much of the best of our real RCN today.

It’s rich source material.

Back in 2008, Commander Steven Virgin (CO) and Lieutenant Commander Angus Topshee (XO) of the Canadian frigate HMCS Toronto came round to the LCMSDS on a speaking tour. This was just after their ship had taken part in a NATO cruise around Africa, which for the most part had been geared towards piracy deterrence. Their presentation, and particularly the conversation afterward, was hugely insightful. They had quite a story to tell.

The highlight of their operation (as far as I was concerned) was rescuing a Yemeni soldier, who’d been part of a small garrison on a volcanic island in the Red Sea… an island which abruptly went active. On her own initiative, Toronto sailed straight in and saved one of the doomed men from the fire –– damned near literally.

It was dramatic and a bit gallant –– in the best traditions of Defense Command’s finest, but far more impressive than anything that happened during the Martian War, because it was real. And as they talked about it, Virgin and Topshee seemed frankly rather modest. I was impressed, as I consistently am when dealing with the commanding officers I’ve met from the Canadian Forces.

Because of these sorts of impressions, I never had any qualms about finding the best people to crew Defense Command’s most elite formation. Every military has its finest, and its worst, but knowing the caliber of the people I’ve met from the likes of the RCN, it was only natural that the Belt Squadron live up to their standards (the old Independent Squadron and the Forge Squadron, perhaps not so much).

Anyway, all this comes to mind now because, just last Friday, Toronto was at it again –– this time making one of the largest maritime drug busts in history. Having just taken over from Regina as Canada’s representative in Operation Artemis, the frigate caught up to a suspicious vessel in the Indian Ocean, sent over a boarding team, and found $100 million worth of heroin aboard. Not a bad day’s work for current-CO David Patchell and his crew.

And the sort of day that I’m sure Wes Pellew, Kris Jacobs, Matt Baxter, or (obviously) Karen McMaster would have had –– except they’d have done it against pirates in spaceships, prowling around the asteroid belt.

So, if you miss Defense Command (and are waiting impatiently for Black Sun –– sorry, it’ll be quite a while), keep an eye out for the exploits of real navies like the RCN. I certainly am.

royal canadian navy hmcs toronto
HMCS Toronto looms awesomely over a suspicious vessel. Photo by the Canadian Forces. For more images, go here: