Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Toronto left this morning from the CFB Halifax dockyard to join NATO reassurance measures in the Mediterranean.
HMCS Toronto, with about 250 crew, is heading to a tense area, replacing HMCS Regina, which has been part of Standing NATO Maritime Forces since May 2014.
The length of this mission isn't known. Families bid an emotional goodbye to sailors at the dockyard in Halifax on Thursday morning.
Master Seaman Veronique LeClerc from Drummondville, Que., said goodbye to her husband Marc, 6-year-old son William, and 9-year-old daughter Winter.
"We're [all] sad but very proud as well," said Marc LeClerc.
This is the longest deployment LeClerc has ever been on. She believes Canadians can make a difference.
"I think it's going to be interesting. There's a lot of new things to be seen and to be done and with the ever changing world situation, I think it's going to be pretty rewarding. I think we're going to make a big difference out there," she said.
Master Seaman Kurt Sheppard is another one of the 250 crew on board the ship. He said goodbye to his family Thursday, including his three year old son.
"It's very hard but it's something we have to do and, we plan for it — that doesn't make it any easier. But we're ready to go. ... We're just uncertain of when we're gonna come home — that's a little different. We're there to be a — you know, to react to things and we gotta be there so we're gonna do it," he said.
HMCS Regina was on another mission in the Arabian Sea when the conflict in Ukraine started to escalate three months ago. The ship was ordered to move into the eastern Mediterranean.
HMCS Toronto is heading to the same area in the eastern Mediterranean, which also gives it access to the Black Sea, if needed.
The last mission for HMCS Toronto was in the Arabian sea and lasted 12 months. During that time, the crew foiled nine different drug operations and seized 8.5 tonnes of narcotics.
Defence Minister Rob Nicholson was also at the navy jetty Thursday, taking part in a ceremony to send off the crew.