January 18, 2015 12:53 pm
Updated: January 18, 2015 7:26 pm

Emotional homecoming for HMCS Toronto after 7 months at sea


HALIFAX – A Canadian navy frigate returned home to Halifax on Sunday after a seven-month deployment in the Mediterranean Sea.

Dozens of people held yellow balloons and homemade signs, as ice-clad HMCS Toronto docked in Halifax harbour this morning.

“We’ve been chopping away at the ice since 8 a.m.,” Master Seaman Kurt Sheppard told reporters.

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Sheppard was the first sailor off the vessel, waving a bouquet of red roses as he descended the stairs onto the jetty.

He was greeted by his wife, three-year-old son and newborn baby girl. The infant, named Sadie, was born on Christmas Eve while Sheppard was deployed overseas.

“Christmas Eve was very different,” Sheppard explained. “I got woken up early and got told my wife was on the way to the hospital so I phoned right away.”

“Less than an hour later, the baby was there.”

HMCS Toronto was taking part in a NATO exercise in the Mediterranean Sea, responding to Russia’s role in the Ukraine crisis.

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In November, six crew members helped battle a fire and evacuate a burning building in Turkey after spotting the blaze while eating at a restaurant during a port visit in Antalya.

“Any of our sailors would respond the same way,” said the ship’s Commanding Officer, Jason Armstrong.

“They helped save a couple peoples’ lives and probably thousands of dollars of property over there. And it was amazing: they paid their bill at the end of the dinner too.”

HMCS Fredericton left Halifax at the end of December 2014 to replace HMCS Toronto.

With files from The Canadian Press.

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