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VICTORIA, Canada - Adm. Harry Harris Jr., commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet, spent time interacting with Royal Canadian Navy leadership and sailors during a visit to Victoria, British Columbia, Oct. 7, emphasizing the significance of the relationship between the two navies as the U.S. rebalances to the Pacific.
In town to deliver remarks on the U.S. Navy's role in America's rebalance to the Pacific at the biennial Maritime Security Challenges (MSC) symposium, Harris took part in a working luncheon aboard the frigate HMCS Regina and spoke with students at the Naval Officers' Training Center.
"The U.S. - Canada friendship is a celebrated one where we are each other's number one trading partner, where we share a deep and abiding commitment to peace, and prosperity and where we share the largest undefended border between nations in the world," Harris reminded the more than 150 MSC attendees during a conference banquet address. "Our two nations have worked, fought, bled and died together during World War I and II, through the Korean conflict and the Cold War. Even now in Northern Iraq we are working together as part of a broad coalition to stamp out ISIL."
During his remarks, Harris went on to explain why the U.S.'s rebalance to the Pacific is important to both countries.
"The freedom of the seas is the minimum condition necessary for global prosperity and trade to flourish," he said. "This applies to the United States, a maritime nation and Pacific power, this applies to Canada, also a maritime nation and a Pacific power. We all rely on freedom of the seas so that our economies can thrive.
"That's why the United States Pacific Fleet maintains a strong presence throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific," Harris said.
During the MSC symposium, Vice Adm. Mark Norman, commander of the Royal Canadian Navy, spoke of his navy's evolution.
"We're going to need new ship's and new capabilities because the world's ocean's have never been more important to our collective security and prosperity than they are today," Norman said, "as ocean politics continue to intensify in this 21st century, and perhaps no where more dramatically than here in the Asia-Pacific."
Capt. C. J. Cassidy, naval attaché to Canada, noted that there's more to the rebalance than just a friendship.
"It's clearly in the United States' national security interests for Canada to have a capable and relevant Navy," Cassidy said. "When Canada deploys with the U.S. Navy in a battle group, that means we can leave a ship at home. We share training interoperability, communications and weapons; we are truly connected to each other."
In addition to the conference, Harris met with more than 50 Canadian officers at the Naval Officer's Training Center.
"It was a true pleasure to have Adm. Harris meet with these officers today", said Canadian Navy Lt. Cmdr. Karen Belhumeur, executive officer of the training center where Harris spoke to more than 50 current and future naval officers. "I have no doubt that the officers here today will take things the Admiral said back to their commands."
The working lunch aboard Regina was hosted by Norman and Harris also met with the Honorable Judith Guichon, Lt. Gov. of British Columbia, during his visit.