HMCS Vancouver enters the Mediterranean Sea in this August 2011 file photo. The warship

HMCS Vancouver enters the Mediterranean Sea in this August 2011 file photo. The warship

Mission abroad changes for West Coast warship

HMCS Vancouver serving new counter-terrorism role in Mediterranean Sea

A West Coast naval warship will continue to patrol the waters of the Mediterranean Sea, this time on the hunt for suspect vessels involved in terrorist activities.

HMCS Vancouver, along with a Sea King helicopter detachment, left CFB Esquimalt in July to patrol the coast of a besieged Libya alongside NATO forces.

The frigate’s mission until the end of October, was ensuring safe passage for humanitarian aid, and preventing weapons and mercenaries from enering the North African nation. It patrolled near the beleaguered Libyan ports of Misrata, Tripoli, Tobruk, and Sirte.

Canada’s Defence Minister Peter MacKay announced Sunday (Nov. 20) that Canada will continue to operate its naval ships in the Mediterranean Sea until the end of 2012, as part of Operation Active Endeavour, NATO’s counter-terrorism mission. The NATO fleet is working to boost security and stability in the region.

“I’m proud of what our forces have accomplished in the area, and I have confidence our continued presence in the Mediterranean will help detect and deter terrorist activities,” MacKay said in a statement.

Canada’s highest ranking military officer, Gen. Walter Natynczyk, said the ship’s transition to a new NATO mission and ongoing presence in the Mediterranean Sea “makes great sense.”

“Canadian security begins abroad,” he said in a statement. “Our frigate will contribute to an important ongoing international operation and will further support Canadian interests overseas.”

MacKay said Vancouver will be replaced in early 2012 by HMCS Charlottetown, which will leave Halifax in January. It will be the second time the East Coast vessel heads to the Mediterranean Sea.

emccracken@vicnews.com