Operation HESTIA

Operation HESTIA was the Canadian Forces participation in humanitarian operations conducted in response to the catastrophic earthquake that struck Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on 12 January 2010.

Op HESTIA was the military component of a whole-of-government response that also involved Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT) and the Canadian International Development Agency.

The mission

At 16:53:09 hours local time (21:53:09 UTC) on 12 January 2010, Haiti was struck by an earthquake measured at 7.3 on the Richter scale. The epicentre of the earthquake was located about 15 km from the centre of Port-au-Prince at a depth of 10 km. Significant aftershocks followed, including at least 12 having magnitudes between 5.0 and 5.9.

Haiti is located at the west end of the seismically active Caribbean island of Hispaniola. Port-au-Prince, the capital, was levelled by tremors twice before, in 1751 and 1770. In 1946, an earthquake measuring 8.0 on the Richter scale hit Samana in the neighbouring Dominican Republic.

The tremor damaged or destroyed most of the important buildings in Port-au-Prince, including the Presidential Palace, the National Assembly, the National Penitentiary, most of the city's hospitals, and the headquarters of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). Fortunately, the MINUSTAH logistics base was spared. Basic services such as water and electricity collapsed almost entirely, and all surviving health care facilities were flooded with the injured. According to Red Cross estimates, some 3 million people - one third of Haiti's population - were affected by the quake.

Joint Task Force Haiti

Commander: Brigadier-General Guy Laroche

Joint Task Force Haiti (JTFH) was a humanitarian operations task force with a mandate to deliver a wide range of services in support of the Government of Haiti and the Canadian Embassy in Port-au-Prince. In particular, JTFH offered emergency medical services; engineering expertise; mobility by sea, land and air; and defence and security support. At peak, the maritime, land and air components of JTFH comprised about 2,050 personnel divided between Port-au-Prince, Léogâne and Jacmel.

Maritime Component

Commanded by Captain (Navy)

Air Component

Operating from Toussaint Louverture International Airport at Port-au-Prince and the municipal airfield in Jacmel the Air Component consisted of:

Land Component

JTFH received extensive support from 8 Wing Trenton, the home of transport squadrons flying the CC-130 Hercules tactical airlifter, the CC-144 Challenger long-range executive jet, and the CC-150 Polaris and CC-177 Globemaster III strategic airlifters.

Previous Canadian operations in Haiti

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