Under the watchful eye of Rear Admiral Bob Auchterlonie, commander of the Maritime Forces Pacific (MARPAC), the HMCS Ottawa pulled out of the fueling jetty at CFB Esquimalt Tuesday morning. It took a courtesy dip towards the Esquimalt Lagoon, where family members stood waving, before embarking outwards for a five-month mission in the Indo-Asia Pacific region.
HMCS Ottawa will be sailing to replace HMCS Regina after she sailed out in February. On board are 225 sailors, soldiers and aviators from the Canadian Armed Forces.
“It’s a good day for the folks, it’s pretty exciting for the ship’s companies,” Auchterlonie said. “The crew on board are all really excited this morning.”
While abroad, the crew will be part of two missions. Operation PROJECTION focuses on maintaining a naval presence in the area, in partnership with the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force, the Republic of Korea Navy and other partners in the area.
Operation NEON is Canada’s effort to support the United Nations Security Council’s sanctions against North Korea.
“It’s a pretty volatile world we’re living in,” Auctherlonie said. “But these are highly professional crews with capable ships, we’re prepared for the missions at hand.”
Canada has held navy ships in the region for several years; in the fall of 2018 HMCS Calgary made the mission to the region, and in February HMCS Regina sailed that way as well.
HMCS Regina is set to return in the next couple weeks, while HMCS Ottawa is scheduled to return shortly before Christmas.
HMCS Calgary, now stationed at CFB Esquimalt, also set sail Tuesday morning for a series of trial missions in the local area. It will return in a couple of weeks.