Canadian warship HMCS Charlottetown is patrolling the waters north of Libya, as UN-backed airstrikes continue.

Cmdr. Craig Skjerpen said Charlottetown is with NATO ships, but not with the convoy enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya.

"We're able to see some of the strikes commence but we're a little farther back, so we're in a safe area," he told CBC News on Monday morning.

Charlottetown and its 240 crew members left their home port of Halifax on March 2. At the time, the mission was to evacuate Canadian citizens from Libya and provide humanitarian assistance.

By the time the ship was in the area, the mission had changed.

Skjerpen said it's possible the ship will be called on to help enforce an embargo. For now, there is no specific task other than to patrol.

"We're looking at the vessels and the aircraft that are in the area and we're learning the traffic patterns to see if there's anything abnormal," he said.

Skjerpen said the crew left Halifax expecting to be away for six months.

UN-backed airstrikes started on the weekend. International forces hit a number of targets, including a building in one of leader Moammar Gadhafi's compounds in Tripoli, the capital of Libya.

On Sunday, Defence Minister Peter MacKay said Canadian warplanes would be enforcing the no-fly zone within 48 hours. On Monday, the planes flew their first mission over Libya.

The CF-18s from CFB Bagotville, along with 150 personnel, arrived at a small airbase in Trapani, Sicily, around noon local time Saturday, the CBC's James Cudmore reported.