A large crowd packed the Halifax waterfront Sunday to wave goodbye to their loved ones as HMCS Charlottetown departed for a mission in the Mediterranean Sea.

The navy frigate has a crew of about 250 and will be gone for seven months.

Commander Wade Carter told reporters the Charlottetown would be joining the NATO mission Operation Active Endeavor, known as Operation Metric in Canada.

It's a counter-terrorism mission in the sea that borders Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. 

"We're going to be patrolling the Mediterranean looking for weapons of mass destruction or constituents that could be used to design such things," Carter said Sunday.

That could include boarding vessels, but Carter does not anticipate a high level of risk for his crew.

"Most of the seafarers in that area are law-abiding," he said.

No plans for Iran or Syria

He said the Charlottetown had no plans to participate in any potential missions to the conflict in Syria, which borders the sea.

He also said they had no plans for nearby Iran, which has attracted international attention by saying it might block the Strait of Hormuz in response to potential UN sanctions.

"We are ready to deploy on the behalf of the government of Canada if they direct us to proceed in any type of mission, but I have no specific mission at this time in relation to any nation," he said.

He likened the mission to a police officer patrolling a beat.   

Chief Petty Officer Don Ellis said it was the first deployment for many sailors.

"We're just making sure everything and everybody is ready to go. It's really emotional," he said. "For a lot of us it's not the first time, but it's never easy. But, you get through  it — that's what they pay us to do."

The ship departed Halifax at 10 a.m. It is due to arrive in the Mediterranean in one week.