International Operation Name: not applicable
International Operation Dates: not applicable
Mandating Organization: Government of Canada
Region Name: Central America
Canadian Operation Name: (Haiti 1963)
Canadian Operation Dates: 1963/05/15 – 1963/05/24
Mission Mandate: On order, evacuate Canadian citizens from Haiti.
Dr. Francois Duvalier was elected President of Haiti, for a six-year term, in 1957. Perhaps fearing that he would decide unilaterally to extend his term, early in 1963 a group of military personnel planned a coup, but it was discovered in April. Most of the plotters were quickly rounded up, but a small group fled into the Embassy of the Dominican Republic, followed by Haitian police intent on seizing them. The latter promptly withdrew from the Embassy when the Dominican President, Juan Bosch, threatened to use force against Haiti.
A standoff ensued - the Haitian authorities would not allow the anti-government forces in the Embassy to leave, while President Bosch wanted them off of Dominican territory. In support of his demand, Bosch built up his forces along the Haitian border, prompting an escalation in tensions. The Haitian troops surrounding the Embassy withdrew on 13 May; however it was the anti-government plotters who were not immediately allowed to leave. Tensions remained high between the two countries and the military forces of each were poised for war. This tension slowly subsided over the next two weeks, although anti-Duvalier forces were to commence raids into Haiti from the Dominican Republic.
On Wednesday, 15 May HMCS Saskatchewan received a message from Naval Headquarters ordering the ship to proceed with dispatch towards Port au Prince. The ship, berthed at US Naval Station San Juan, left three hours later. The ship was off Haiti the next day.
On board Saskatchewan, plans were immediately drawn up to prepare for the evacuation of Canadian citizens in Haiti and to protect Canadian government property. The ship’s two Standing Boarding Parties and the Demolition Party were enlarged to form a landing organization totaling 75 sailors, while an action and boats crew section was created of 22 officers and men. Thursday 16 May was spent in preparations of the landing parties, small arms practice, drills and briefings of procedures to be used if sent ashore.
The US Navy was also present, with seven ships (including landing craft) as was one Royal Navy warship. Saskatchewan maintained station in the Channel St. Marc, awaiting orders, but in the meantime served as a conduit of information between the British and Americans. On 20 May, HMC Ships Bonaventure, Chaudiere and Cap de la Madeleine were ordered to stand by, although they were to remain farther out to sea than Saskatchewan. They left the area on 22 May. The US Navy left on the 23rd. After a rendezvous with HMS Caprice the next morning, Saskatchewan learned that the RN was also withdrawing. Orders for Saskatchewan to proceed to Kingston, Jamaica were received that evening. The planned evacuation of Canadian from Haiti was no longer required.
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