Canadian Navy submarine returns to B.C. after longest voyage on record

"It's like your wedding day all over again," says wife of HMCS Chicoutimi sailor.

'It's like your wedding day all over again,' says wife of HMCS Chicoutimi sailor

More than 50 Canadian navymen reunited with their families Wednesday after six months away from home. Petty Officer David Niezen, right, kissed his daughter Franchesca, 8, after arriving. (Chad Hipolito/Canadian Press)

For family, friends and crew alike, it's been a long six months.

HMCS Chicoutimi, a Royal Canadian Navy submarine, left Canada on a patrol mission to Asia in September. CBC News had unprecedented access on board the ship during deployment.

On Wednesday, the ship returned to the Esquimalt dockyard, packed with dozens of officers who hadn't seen their families in 197 days.

Master Seaman William Bull and his son Ethan Bull, 3, share a moment as Chanpen Bull looks on. (Chad Hipolito/Canadian Press)

A military band played as the vessel docked and officers disembarked, running to hug their families.

Cendra Beaton, married to First Marine Technician Patrick Beaton, was chosen to greet her husband first for the tradition of the "first kisses."

First Marine Technician Patrick Beaton shared the traditional 'first kiss' with his wife Cendra after arriving at CFB Esquimalt on Wednesday. (Chad Hipolito/Canadian Press)

"It's kind of like your wedding day all over again," she said, standing by with her children.

The voyage was the longest one for a Victoria-class submarine. It's been more than half a century since the Royal Canadian Navy sent a submarine to Japan.

The RCN purchased the sub from the United Kingdom in the '90s. 

The last time HMCS Chicoutimi crossed an ocean, the vessel flooded, caught fire, and a sailor died. The navy said it hoped this mission would erase any doubts about the vessel's capabilities.

With files from the Canadian Press