Three Ships and 600 Sailors Return Home from Five-Month Deployment

Above image: Left, a sailor hands out roses to little ones after a five month deployment. Right, Santa was on hand to welcome home sailors deployed to the Indo-Pacific region. Photo by: Master Corporal Nathan Spence, Corporal Jay Naples.

Three Royal Canadian Navy ships sailed into their home port just in time for Christmas.

On Dec. 18, 2023, His Majesty’s Canadian Ships (HMCS) Ottawa and Vancouver and Motor Vessel (MV) Asterix returned to Esquimalt, B.C., after a five-month deployment to the Indo-Pacific region.

“The deployment of HMC Ships Ottawa and Vancouver, as the second and third warships to sail to the Indo-Pacific region this year, is a strong signal of Canada’s commitment to promote stability and prosperity in the region as outlined in Canada’s Indo-Pacific Strategy. Through their work with our partners and allies, our Canadian Armed Forces members are also delivering on our Women, Peace and Security agenda – deepening our friendships in the region and building on our people-to-people ties. I thank the ships’ companies for their tireless efforts,” stated Minister of National Defence Bill Blair.

The Motor Vessel (MV) ASTERIX and His Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) OTTAWA lead the way for HMCS VANCOUVER during a sail past of the Victoria shorelines after departing Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt, British Columbia, for the Indo-Pacific on August 14th, 2023. Photo by: Corporal Alisa Strelley, Canadian Armed Forces Photo.

Three Ships and 600 Sailors Returned Home

With approximately 600 sailors returning home, friends, family, and parliamentary secretary to the minister of national defence, Marie-France Lalonde, were at CFB Esquimalt to welcome the ships and crew home from their deployment.

“After more than five months at sea, our sailors have succeeded in furthering Canada’s interests in the Indo-Pacific region. They have helped forged military-to-military ties, built and nurtured new partnerships, and they have stood up for the international rules that keep us all safe. They have done their work admirably. I’m proud to be here today to welcome the crews of HMCS Ottawa, HMCS Vancouver, and MV Asterix home to their friends and loved ones,” said Marie-France Lalonde, parliamentary secretary to the minister of national defence in a statement.

After a five-month deployment, family and friends gathered at CFB Esquimalt to welcome home their loved ones on Dec. 18, 2023. Photo by: Master Corporal Nathan Spence, Corporal Jay Naples.

Significant Milestone

The deployment to the Indo-Pacific region marked a significant milestone for the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). This year marked the first time Canada deployed three warships to the Indo-Pacific region, delivering on Canada’s commitment when it launched its Indo-Pacific Strategy.

“The lasting military commitment of the Canadian Armed Forces in the Indo-Pacific underscores Canada’s unwavering dedication to nurturing peace and stability within a free and open Indo-Pacific framework. Over the last four months, the commendable efforts of our sailors and aviators stand as a testament to our commitment, reinforcing the norms of regional stability. This persistent presence underscores the Canadian Armed Forces’ steadfast dedication to achieving shared security objectives,” stated Chief of the Defence Staff General Wayne Eyre, who is currently in Europe visiting Canadian Armed Forces personnel.

After a five-month deployment, family and friends gathered at CFB Esquimalt to welcome home their loved ones on Dec. 18, 2023. Photo by: Master Corporal Nathan Spence, Corporal Jay Naples.

Increased Military Cooperation

As mandated in the Strategy, the CAF has increased its military cooperation with partners and allies, deployed additional assets to increase Canada’s military presence, and demonstrated measurable contributions to peace, resilience, and security in the Indo-Pacific region.

“By augmenting the number of warships deployed to the Indo-Pacific region this past year, from two to three, the Royal Canadian Navy is helping Canada maintain an active presence in this region and contributing meaningfully to the Indo-Pacific Strategy. I’m extremely proud of the sailors serving in VancouverOttawa, and the Naval Replenishment Unit in Asterix for their hard work, their professionalism and the dedication shown throughout this deployment, far away from home and their loved ones, in the service of supporting peace, security, and Canadian interests,” said Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy Vice-Admiral Angus Topshee.

After a five-month deployment, family and friends gathered at CFB Esquimalt to welcome home their loved ones on Dec. 18, 2023. Photo by: Master Corporal Nathan Spence, Corporal Jay Naples.

Five Interconnected Priorities

Canada’s Indo-Pacific Strategy addresses five interconnected priorities, with the DND/CAF focused on promoting peace, resilience, and security.

The five priorities include:

  • the deployment of an additional frigate to the Indo-Pacific,
  • increased DND/CAF participation in bilateral and multinational regional exercises,
  • the development of new capacity-building programs,
  • increased civilian defence positions and
  • new cyber initiatives across the Indo-Pacific.

Visited 7 Countries

Since departing in early August, the Halifax-class frigates and the naval replenishment unit visited seven countries, including:

  • Japan,
  • the Republic of Korea,
  • Thailand, Malaysia,
  • Singapore,
  • the Philippines, and
  • the United States.

All three Royal Canadian Navy ships and one Royal Canadian Air Force CP-140 Aurora Long Range Patrol Aircraft also participated in ANNUALEX alongside the Royal Australian Navy, an interoperability exercise co-hosted by the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force and the U.S. Navy.

HMCS Vancouver and the CP-140 also supported Operation NEON, Canada’s contribution to multinational efforts to monitor sanctions placed on North Korea by the United Nations Security Council.

INDO-PACIFIC DEPLOYMENT 2023. HMCS Ottawa, HMCS Vancouver with embarked CH-148 Cyclone helicopter “CANUCK”, and MV Asterix assume formation during a Photo Exercise (PhotoEx) while transiting the Pacific Ocean on 1 December 2023. Photo by: Aviator Gregory Cole, Canadian Armed Forces Photo.

About the Ships

With a crew of approximately 250 personnel of all ranks, each including a CH-148 Cyclone helicopter air detachment, HMC Ships Ottawa and Vancouver are Halifax-class frigates. The vessels provide significant combat capability and a high degree of mission flexibility thanks to their onboard helicopter.

MV Asterix has approximately 100 personnel, comprised of civilian and military sailors. The ship has two hangars that can accommodate a variety of helicopters and can operate up to eight smaller boats with quick launch and recovery capabilities. The ship has extensive medical facilities and is equipped to perform at-sea fuel replenishment.

Take in the excitement and watch the ships arrive here.

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