Glitch delays HMCS Montreal departure from Halifax ahead of six-month operation

Click to play video: 'Royal Canadian Navy ship members prepare for 6-month deployment'
Royal Canadian Navy ship members prepare for 6-month deployment
WATCH: A departure ceremony was held for crew members of HMCS Montreal in Halifax as the ship prepared to deploy on a six-month mission in the Indo-Pacific region. Vanessa Wright reports – Apr 14, 2024

Members of a Royal Canadian Navy frigate waved an emotional goodbye to friends and families on Sunday as HMCS Montreal prepared to depart from the Halifax Harbour ahead of a six-month deployment overseas — despite a minor issue.

An unexpected mechanical problem reared its head on Saturday and therefore delayed the 250-person crew of sailors, aviators, and soldier’s departure time that was originally set for Sunday morning.

Trevor MacLean, the commander of Canadian Fleet Atlantic, described the obstacle as a “small mechanical issue” when speaking to reporters on Sunday.

“What we do routinely if something breaks, we’ll ship parts overseas and fix it there but rather than do that, it makes the most sense to fix it here,” he said.

Despite the maintenance delay, MacLean said the vessel is still expected to depart on Sunday afternoon or early Monday morning. The crew will remain on the ship until departure.

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“It’s a great opportunity for our sailors here from Halifax to get to the other side of the world and represent Canada there,” MacLean said. “It’s an exciting opportunity for our sailors to work with navies that traditionally Halifax-based sailors don’t get to work with like Australia, Japan, and South Korea.”

The Halifax vessel, which has been involved in the Canadian Forces since 1993, is the first ship deployed as part of “Operation HORIZON” — a mission that is said to be focused on maintaining stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

“This operation will increase opportunities to work side-by-side with allies and partners empowering Canada to play an even more active role in contributing to regional security, with an increased presence in the region, in support of Canada’s Indo-Pacific Strategy,” read an April 10 release from Canada’s Department of National Defence.

Click to play video: 'Canada to significantly enhance presence in Indo Pacific region'
Canada to significantly enhance presence in Indo Pacific region

Scott Leblanc, a sonar operator on HMCS Montreal, is looking forward to the lengthy mission that will take him to the other side of the world. He said he was pleased the ship’s captain took some time to share further details regarding the voyage with the crew’s respective family members on Sunday.

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“It’s nice to be able to do that because for us as sailors, we know the day-to-day,” said LeBlanc, who’s a returning crew member from last year’s voyage to the region.

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“A lot of times, families don’t have much insight into what we’re actually going to be doing while we’re gone. It’s nice to be able to share that.”

Families gather alongside Royal Canadian Navy members in Halifax before crew members boarded HMCS Montreal ahead of a six-month deployment to the Indo-Pacific region. Vanessa Wright

As for Leblanc’s family, his mother Bernette and brother Michel were in attendance to share a temporary farewell.

“It’s bittersweet. On one hand, I’m very proud of him and what he’s accomplishing,” said Beraette Leblanc.

“On the other hand, he’s going to be away for a very long time and you hope that he stays safe.”

Michel Leblanc echoed a similar sentiment of pride.

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“It’s definitely a proud moment. It’s nice to see him with his peers and (to be able to) see into his world and what he deals with on a day-to-day basis,” he said.

According to a statement from Commander Travis Bain on social media, the ship will voyage across the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans while engaging in “international exercises” alongside regional partners.

“The security of our oceans and seas is fundamental to internal security,” Bain said in a video uploaded to X, formerly known as Twitter. “The conflict in the Middle East and by extension the Red Sea is one modern-day example of this importance of maritime security.”

Bain said sending navy ships into these areas empowers Canada to play a more active role in contributing to regional security while showcasing a commitment to an “international rules-based order.”

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“The RCN has been deploying ships to the Indo-Pacific region for decades,” he added.

“Participation in these exercises demonstrates Canada to being a reliable partner in the region and also better prepares us for times of conflict.”

HMCS Montreal is expected to arrive back in Halifax at the end of October.

— with files from Vanessa Wright

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