Windy skies and ocean spray didn’t dim the spirit of the families, friends and spectators of a Royal Canadian Navy Task Group departure Thursday evening.
Waves, smiles and Canadian flags beamed out from various points along Greater Victoria’s southern coastline as the HMCS Regina and HMCS Winnipeg sailed towards the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise in Hawaii, CH-148 Cyclone helicopters trailing in their wake and coming back for additional waves.
Trista Sutton and her two sons, Hudson, 5 and Oliver, 4, waved at the sky as dad and husband Kris Sutton flew past. He’ll be gone for more than four months.
“The boys are really resilient,” Trista said as the little duo waved excitedly at the low-flying helicopter. “They understand.”
The family will stay in contact by email and phone calls, she added.
RIMPAC is the world’s largest multinational maritime exercise – one the Canadian Forces have participated in since its conception in 1971. According to Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), the exercise, which takes place in the waters around the Hawaiian Islands, works on strategic maritime partnerships and the fostering of cooperative relationships necessary for a free and open Indo-Pacific region.
Unlike other years, members will have to remain at sea for the duration of the exercise in order to limit possibilities for COVID-19 transmission. A southern California portion of the training event was cancelled.
Following RIMPAC, the HMCS Winnipeg will carry on to the western Pacific Ocean for Operations PROJECTION and NEON.
Some members will be away from their families for more than four months.