Maritime Interdiction Force (MIF) - BARRIER

International Information

International Operation Name: Maritime Interdiction Force

International Mission Name: Maritime Interdiction Force

Mandating Organization: 
United Nations Security Council resolution 661, 6 August 1990 (Chapter VII)
United Nations Security Council resolution 687, 3 April 1991 (Chapter VII)
United Nations Security Council resolution 1483, 22 May 2003

Region Name: Middle East

Mission Date: 4 April 1991 - 22 May 2003

Mission Mandate: To enforce United Nations economic sanctions against Iraq.

Mission/Operation Notes: On 6 August 1990, the United Nations Security Council placed economic sanctions on Iraq after its invasion of Kuwait (resolution 661/1990). At the end of the Gulf War, the Security Council passed resolution 686, calling upon Iraq to comply with provisions concerning the treatment of hostages, prisoners of war and other measures. This was followed by Resolution 687 of 3 April 1991, which indicated that the full trade embargo would remain in place pending periodic reviews every 60 days of Iraqi compliance with the terms of the resolution. The embargo against Iraq was cancelled by Security Council resolution 1483, 22 May 2003 after the American-led invasion of Iraq.

Canadian Forces (CF) Information (BARRIER)

Name: Operation BARRIER

Date: 24 February 1992 - 21 August 1992

CF Mission/Operation Notes: Canada’s initial involvement with maritime interdiction in the Gulf came to an end with the termination of Operation Flag. It resumed following the 4 February 1992 announcement that HMCS Restigouche would sail to the Red Sea to become part of the Maritime Interdiction Force. With 19 days notice Restigouche, still fitted with the equipment with which she had been fitted for the Gulf War, left Esquimalt on 24 February and headed to the area of operations via the Panama and Suez Canals. Enroute, she conducted exercises with American and Canadian ships to practice boarding and other evolutions in preparations for duties.

On 21 April, Restigouche commenced operations in the Red Sea, joining ships from Australia, France and the United States. A US Coast Guard vessel assisted with the first two inspections, after which Restigouche was on her own. May was a busy month with 57 boardings and only eight days in port – in Jeddah Saudi Arabia and Safaga, Egypt where the Canadian Logistics Detachment provided for her needs. June followed with more boardings, bringing the overall total to 120, after which there was a 10 day visit to Haifa, Israel, for relaxation and maintenance. Canada Day was celebrated in Safaga, with five more boardings completed before Restigouche left the operations area on 4 July. She set sail eastwards, arriving in Esquimalt on 21 August, circumnavigating the globe in the process.

The task of the MIF was to prevent the flow of prohibited goods by sea from or to Iraq, and that required merchant ships to be boarded and searched completely – an onerous task in the sweltering heat of the Red Sea. Usually, the number of boardings did not exceed two or three a day, but on 26 June the crew of Restigouche conducted nine boardings, including two undertaken simultaneously. By the end of her tour Restigouche undertook 125 boardings in just under 50 days at sea in the operations area. Thankfully, all were “compliant” boardings - the masters and crews of all the merchantmen were co-operative.

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