Sheriff’s boat participates in joint exercise with Canadian Navy

Deputy Shawn Pollard, a 16-year Coast Guard veteran now working for Sheriff Jim Cummings in Barnstable County,  begins to ease this patrol boat away from the fueling dock and out into Buzzard’s Bay.  Pollard and the boat’s other skipper, Lt. John Doherty, took part in an international training drill with a Canadian Navy patrol ship and minesweeper – the HMCS Kingston, steaming south from Halifax, Nova Scotia.  The drill was enacted over Columbus Day weekend.


Pollard and Doherty go over some nautical details prior to getting underway.  That consisted of a slow “walk” through Falmouth Harbor and channel, a 40-knot (45 mph), and the mock confrontation with HMCS Kingston.  “Bad guys” Pollard and Doherty played the part of a vessel not inclined to obey any of the Kingston’s radio messages to stay clear, thus assuming the role of malicious harassment at best, hostile intent at worst.  The drill location was off Cleveland’s Ledge Lighthouse, so named because President Grover Cleveland used to summer in Buzzard’s Bay..


The Sheriff’s “bad” boat now approaches the Kingston, having blatantly ignored messages to stand down and keep its distance.  About a dozen of the 37-man crew were among those on deck and manning a stationary 50 caliber-machine gun, two smaller-bore machine guns, and other lethal weapons.  None were “trigger-ready,” but they could have quickly been made so were it not a drill — and were a response thus required.  One shooter mans the guardrail on the bow; six others are armed and ready on the guardrail alongside the ship’s superstructure; the rest are either out-of-sight, on the ship’s stern, or on its star-board side.


Sheriff’s vessel has now circled to that star-board side, where we spot another armed sailor and above him the barrel of that 50-calibre.  Kingston was commissioned 20 years ago, is classified as a coastal defence vessel, and runs 180 feet long.  Its top speed is 15 knots (17 mph), it can range up to 1,500 miles when fully fueled, and the ship motto is “For sovereign and people.”


A closer look at that machine gun, and how Doherty and Pollard stayed on script by getting close enough to make it real.  The Kingston, incidentally, is no stranger to either small drills like this or larger exercises.  One such saw the ship sailing into the Baltic Sea in 1999 to take part in a NATO operation (“Blue Game”) with sister HMCS ships Glace Bay and Anticosti.  On this past weekend, it was transiting the Cape Cod Canal to partake in Operation Caribbean; that  long-running operation ended calendar year 2012 with one hundred fifty-two tons of cocaine and several million dollars of cash seized.


Drill completed, the harassing boat breaks off and heads back to Falmouth Harbor.  You might wonder why Canada’s national symbol, the red maple leaf, is so small.  Were it a pleasure boat, ferry, or small cruise ship, it would probably be otherwise.  But this boat is outfitted for work, not play.

Media release and photos furnished by Barnstable Sheriff’s Office
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