Maritime Interdiction Force (MIF) - MERCATOR

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

Mandate: To enforce United Nations economic sanctions against Iraq.

Region Name: Middle East

Location: Arabian Gulf; Iraq

Mission Date: 3 April 1991 - 22 May 2003

Mission 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 Operation: Operation MERCATOR - 1 August to 26 October 1998 

Op MERCATOR was the fifth Canadian contribution to the MIF. HMCS Ottawa began preparations for this deployment in March 1998, including exercising with the USS Abraham Lincoln Battle Group (ALBG), with which she would sail to the Arabian Gulf. On 16 June, Ottawa left Esquimalt, to meet up with the ALBG. Enroute, 50 sailors participated in the cleaning and maintenance of the Sai Won Commonwealth Military Cemetery in Hong Kong, completed with a small ceremony in which a wreath was laid. 

On 1 August, Ottawa and the ALBG arrived in the Arabian Gulf theatre of operation. After several days rest and maintenance in Manama, Bahrain, she conducted her first patrol, starting on 5 August. It terminated on 17 August after conducting 25 hailings and 8 boardings. After two days in Kuwait City, Ottawa started her second patrol, conducting surge operations in the northern Gulf, under the direction of the USS Valley Forge. On 31 August, Ottawa entered Dubai to conduct a short work period in which many crew members returned to Canada for a quick reunion with their families, while others met their spouses in Dubai. 

HMCS Ottawa’s third patrol started on 12 September and continued to the 28 September. Four sailors from the United Arab Emirates navy were embarked for two days for familiarization. The patrol terminated with a visit to Qatar, where they hosted a cocktail party for Qatari guests and Canadian expatriots. The latter also opened their homes to the sailors so they could enjoy some home-cooked meals and escape the confines of the ship. Ottawa commenced her fourth patrol on 3 October, transiting the Straits of Hormuz on the 10 October enroute to Muscat, Oman. After three days there, the ship and crew conducted their final patrol in the Gulf. In three months of operations, HMCS Ottawa conducted five patrols with over 105 hailings and 35 boardings. 

On 26 October the ALBG departed the operations area, heading back to the West Coast of North America, arriving in Esquimalt on 8 December after port visits to Freemantle, Melbourne and Sydney, Australia, and Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

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