Operation HORATIO

International Information

International Operation Name: Operation HORATIO

International Mission Name: Operation HORATIO

Mandating Organization: Government of Canada

Region Name: Central America

Location: Haiti

Mission Date: 12 September 2008 - 26 September 2008

Mandate: to provide humanitarian assistance to Haiti

Details: In the late summer of 2008, Haiti was hit by four successive hurricanes: Fay, Gustav, Hanna and Ike. The strong winds and torrential rains left at least 550 people dead and destroyed or damaged a large portion of Haiti’s already fragile infrastructure. Up to 800,000 people were in need of assistance – 10 percent of the population.

In response, the Canadian Government authorized the Canadian Forces to provide assistance. A warning order was issued on 10 September, advising various CF units that they may be required to assist in Haiti. At the request of the Haitian prime minister and the World Food Programme the CF was asked to assist in delivering aid to the southern part of the country. HMCS St. John’s, already deployed in the Caribbean on an anti-drug operation, was redeployed to the area. An operation order, issued on 17 September, gave the mission the name Operation HORATIO.

The Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) was placed on stand-by while a reconnaissance team deployed to the island on 9 September to determine if the DART could be effectively employed. Staff from the Joint Headquarters Kingston supported by the four Canadian officers who were in Haiti as part of Operation Hamlet (in support of the UN’s MINUSTAH), helped coordinate efforts on the ground with other government departments from Canada, the Government of Haiti and the WFP. At the same time, military engineers working on a reconstruction project in Jamaica were redeployed to Haiti where at least six key bridges had been destroyed.

While in Haiti, HMCS St. John’s would load supplies in Port-au-Prince and then sailed to the southern peninsula of the country. The first load of 95.3 tons was loaded by hand with sailors and local residents standing side-by-side passing sacks of food along the jetty and into and onto the ship. The hangar deck and breezeways, in fact almost every accessible area, was stacked with bags. Cranes later assisted subsequent reloading efforts. Once at the destination the ship would anchor offshore while the embarked Sea King flew loads ashore. The Sea King proved very useful as it was able to reach communities for which no other means of transport were available, in the process flying over 300 cargo loads. By the time the operation concluded, St. John’s had made four round trips, delivering more than 467 metric tons of rice, corn-soya meal, bottled water, water purification tablets and other relief supplies to nine communities over a 13-day period. 

By 25 September the WFP advised that they now had sufficient sealift capability and helicopters in place to take over the efforts of the Canadian mission. HMCS St. John’s and other participating personnel and units headed back to Canada starting the next day.


14 Sep 2008 
Tiburon, Haiti 
Photo by MCpl Eduardo Mora Pineda
Formation Imaging Services, Halifax.

Members of the community of Tiburon, in Haiti, look with curiosity at the landing of the Sea-king Helicopter transporting bags of rice.

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