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HMCS St. John's, seen in St. John's harbour last year, is taking part in a Canada-U.S. mission in the Arctic. (CBC)

Three Canadian navy ships and a U.S. Coast Guard cutter are being outfitted in St. John's for an extended mission to the Arctic.

The Canadian Forces says the frigate HMCS St. John's will be joined by the coastal defence vessels HMCS Moncton and HMCS Summerside, as well as the American coast guard cutter USCGC Willow.

The ships are expected to leave St. John's on Friday at 8 a.m.

Their task, code-named Operation Nanook, marks the largest of three annual missions in the Arctic.

The goals of the mission are to reinforce Canada's presence in the Arctic and enable the Canadian military to practice emergency response skills.

The Royal Danish navy will also participate in the mission by conducting its own patrols and surveillance operations.