Nova Scotia

HMCS Charlottetown heads home from Libya

HMCS Charlottetown has ended its deployment in Libya and is preparing to come home.

Halifax-based frigate deployed in March

HMCS Charlottetown has ended its deployment in Libya and is preparing to come home.

The crew will formally transfer their duties to HMCS Vancouver in a ceremony Thursday off the Spanish Islands.

HMCS Charlottetown left Halifax on March 2 as part of an international military effort amid a violent internal crackdown by Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi's regime.

At the time, the mission was to evacuate Canadian citizens from Libya and provide humanitarian assistance.

Cmdr. Craig Skjerpen of HMCS Charlottetown said the crew found out on their way to Misrata that they would be helping to enforce a no-fly zone over the country.

"When we arrived, that city was under siege from all sides," said Skjerpen. "The port and the downtown core were being shelled everyday. Black smoke was on the horizon and we could even feel the blast waves from the explosions on the ship."

During Charlottetown's time off the coast of Libya, the ship was fired on twice. No one was hurt.

The crew helped ensure Misrata's port remained open.

"By stopping small boat attacks, providing protection to mine-clearance vessels that had to clear mines outside the port, assisting with NATO aircraft in striking military targets that were actively shelling the city or were threatening the city and the port," said Skjerpen.

Skjerpen said by the time HMCS Charlottetown left Libya, the forces loyal to Gadhafi were out of range of the city's downtown and away from the port.

As the civil war continues, food and medical supplies are continuing to make it into the city.

"The whole ship's company here is leaving with a real sense of pride that we've made a real difference in this operation," said Skjerpen.

HMCS Charlottetown is expected to arrive in Halifax on Sept. 2.