Tissues and blankets were handed out Wednesday morning at CFB Esquimalt as families and friends wished their loved ones bon voyage.
HMCS Ottawa departed for Hawaii, while HMCS Regina departed for a seven-month deployment to the Asia-Pacific and Middle East regions, accompanied by a replenishing ship filled with fuel and supplies, the Asterix. During the deployment, the ships will partake in two operations.
Operation PROJECTION will work with partner navies in support of Canada’s diplomatic efforts in the Asia-Pacific region.
“This part of the world is a contested area, so Canada operates under international law in those areas in the world,” said Rear Admiral Bob Auchterlonie, noting the ships will travel near southern China, Singapore and the Indian Ocean.
In March, the ships will transition to Operation ARTEMIS, which will support the Canadian-led combined Task Force 150 in the international waters of the Middle East. This mission works primarily to stop terrorist organizations from smuggling weapons, illicit cargo and narcotics, while protecting merchant ships.
These operations are also part of a historic moment for the Pacific navy and the maritime helicopter squadron task force.
“This is the first west coast deployment of a Cyclone helicopter on operations,” said Col. Sid Connor. “With this first deployment, we’re introducing new capabilities to the west coast navy. It allows the ship’s captain and the ship’s crew to be able to use the helicopter to see out further than they could in the past.”
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Despite the new goals and abilities, some things remain the same.
“It’s a happy time and a sad time for families,” said Auchterlonie. “I was fortunate in that I deployed on the Regina 22 years ago almost to the day. My wife reminded me today so it was good to be here.”
The ships were sent off with bugles, drums and outstretched arms waving goodbye.
“It’s our first deployment, so it’s kind of mixed emotions,” said Sarah Shams, whose husband is on board HMCS Regina. “They have to do what they have to do to work and support our families, support our country, so we have to support them by showing up here even though it’s sad … and keep going at home.”
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