Hundreds of families lined the dock at Her Majesty’s Canadian Dockyard in Halifax to wave goodbye to loved ones as 196 crew members boarded HMCS Halifax.
The ship is bound to the Mediterranean Sea for Operation REASSURANCE, which Canada has been taking part in since 2014.
“It’s a mission in which Canada commits a ship consistently in the region over there to assure our NATO alliance, allies, that Canada is there and we support all the endeavors of the NATO missions overseas,” said Commander Scott Nelson, Commanding Officer of the HMCS Halifax.
While Canadian ships have consistently been part of the Operation REASSURANCE this will be the first time since 2006 that a Canadian Ship has acted as a Flagship.
New to the HMCS Halifax is the NATO symbol. HMCS Halifax will be the Flagship for the Standing NATO Maritime Group Two. This is the first time a Canadian ship has acted as a Flagship for NATO since 2006. This means the crew will be operating alongside an international staff. pic.twitter.com/CWEknP4STy— Alicia Draus (@Alicia_Draus) July 6, 2019
“That mission comes with a whole other series of challenges that we haven’t done in a long time,” said Nelson. “Specifically operating with an international staff.”
The international staff will consist of officers from allied countries including Turkey, Spain and Italy. Another first is that the commander of the task group will be female. Canadian Commodore Josée Kurtz will act as the first ever female commander for the Standing NATO Maritime Group Two.
“I think it just shows how far we’ve progressed and that we’re continuing to progress,” said Commodore Craig Sjerpen, commander of Canada’s Atlantic Fleet.
“There’s going to be many others behind her, we have a large number of female CO’s, commanding officers of ships and it’s just great to see how we’ve continued to change over the years.”
HMCS Halifax will spend six months on deployment and is scheduled to return to Halifax in January.