HMCS Vancouver will be deployed to join NATO forces participating in the mission to protect Libyan civilians, Canadian military officials say.

The Canadian ship is set to replace HMCS Charlottetown, which was sent to the Mediterranean in March.

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HMCS Vancouver carries about 250 officers and crew. ((DND))

"Canada remains steadfast in its commitment to protect the Libyan people from threats of violence," Defence  Minister Peter MacKay said in a statement released Wednesday.

Libyan rebel fighters have been clashing with longtime ruler Moammar Gadhafi, who has refused to step aside.

The frigate, stationed in Esquimalt, B.C., carries a crew of about 250 officers and crew and includes a CH-124 Sea-King helicopter and air detachment, the military said.

Canada currently has seven CF-18 fighter jets, two CP-140 Aurora maritime patrol planes, two CC-130 Hercules tankers, a refueller and HMCS Charlottetown in the region to help enforce the UN-backed no-fly zone and arms embargo against Libya.

There are about 650 Canadian Forces personnel in the area.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird visited Libya this week after Canada recognized rebels fighting Gadhafi as the legitimate government of that country.

With files from The Canadian Press