Ships leave Halifax for a NATO mission to clear the North Atlantic and the Baltic Sea
Hugs, laughter and a few tears filled the Halifax Dockyard on Sunday morning as Her Majesty’s HMCS Kingston and Summerside embarked on their four-month adventure in the Baltic Sea and North Atlantic.
Both ships will participate in Operation Reassurance, NATO’s response to limit Russian aggression in the Baltic countries. They will be part of a NATO mine countermeasures group.
« We’ve been training for months and I think the crew is ready to go, » the second lieutenant said. Hank Kieser of HMCS Kingston. « My daughter will definitely be missed here, but ultimately we’re really excited. »
HMCS Halifax deploys as part of a NATO mission in support of Ukraine
This is the first deployment for both ships, as well as many sailors on board.
“A whole whirlwind of emotions. I mostly feel excited, a bit nervous,” the 2nd Lieutenant said. Breanna Miller of HMCS Kingston. « Just excited to start at this point. »
« I’m excited but I’m nervous, » the second lieutenant said. Sydney Owens of HMCS Kingston. « I’m excited to see all the places we’re going to go and see new things. »
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“Ready to get the job done, but… it’s going to be tough this time,” said Petty Officer Second Class Cecil Allen of HMCS Kingston. « This will be my first major deployment, the third being so young, so it’s a whole new set of challenges. »
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The mission comes after HMCS Halifax was sent on a six-month mission in March, in the weeks following Russia’s first aggressive actions against Ukraine.
Captain Julian Elbourne, chief of staff for Commander Maritime Forces Pacific, said HMCS Summerside’s specialist dive team will be supported by mine search capabilities via autonomous underwater vehicles aboard the HMCS Kingston.
« I think it’s a very important mission, » said Captain Elbourne. “These two ships will join the northern group and they will participate in minesweeping and mine clearance exercises.
« Mines are a big deal…so developing those skills and working with our partners is a super important mission. »
HMCS Halifax will deploy to Europe to support NATO efforts in Ukraine
Back at the Halifax Dockyard Pier, the sounds of the Royal Canadian Navy’s Stadacona Band filled the air. Although family members were sad to see their loved ones go, many were left with an immense sense of pride.
« It’s sad to see her go, but I’m really excited, » said Shauna Owens, mother of Sydney Owens. « She’s with a great crew, so I know she’ll be in good hands. »
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