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HMCS Halifax deploys on NATO mission in support of Ukraine

Click to play video: 'Loved ones send off HMCS Halifax crews, setting sail for Europe' Loved ones send off HMCS Halifax crews, setting sail for Europe
WATCH: A second Canadian warship has departed from Halifax to the North Atlantic and northern European waters to assist NATO in its support for Ukraine. Hundreds of friends and families of the 253-person crew on the HMCS Halifax came to see their loved ones set sail. Amber Fryday has the story – Mar 19, 2022

A second Canadian warship has departed from Halifax to the North Atlantic and northern European waters in support of NATO deterrence measures as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues.

HMCS Halifax and its 253-person crew left on a six-month deployment Saturday.

Hundreds of family members and friends of the crew gathered at the dockyard in Halifax to see their loved ones set sail.

Read more: HMCS Halifax to deploy for Europe to support NATO in Ukraine efforts

Matt Ellis is a Sailor First Class on the HMCS Halifax and this is his fourth deployment. But for his wife, this time feels different.

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“The first day is always the hardest to watch him leave,” said Megan Ellis, adding that she’s worried.

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“Things are different this time than previous deployments. The world is a little scarier.”

Ellis came to see her husband away with their two sons, Clifton and Lincoln.

Megan Ellis is seen with her two sons Clifton and Lincoln at the deployment of HMCS Halifax on March 19, 2022. Amber Fryday / Global News

“Luckily, we had March Break and we just tried to have as much fun as we could before daddy left,” said Ellis.

She and her husband have been preparing their children for dad’s deployment for a while leading up to Saturday.

“We tell them as soon as we can and then we talk about it as much as we can,” Ellis said.

“We’re so proud that daddy is in the Navy and can support our country and other countries in need.”

Read more: Canada had to make ‘heartbreaking decisions’ in response to Ukraine: Trudeau

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Another young family came to Saturday’s send-off.

Krista Woodreau and her husband adopted their two children Ellie and Charlie in 2020. This is their family’s first deployment.

Woodreau said they will rely on support from friends in Nova Scotia, as the rest of their family resides in Newfoundland.

Four-year-old Charlie already has aspirations of being like his dad.

“We’re very proud that daddy wears the uniform. Charlie already says, ‘I want to work on Daddy’s ship,'” said Woodreau.

Read more: Maritimers using food to fundraise for Ukraine

Proud parents of Nicholas Belanger, Sailor First Class, Kathy and Chuck Belanger drove to Halifax from Chatham, Ont., to see their son off on the half-year deployment.

A veteran himself, Chuck Belanger has done four deployments during his service. Saturday morning, he gave his son some last-minute advice.

“Don’t keep things in — talk to people and feel the support of your crew members,” Belanger said he told his son.

“Today in this world, it’s pretty easy to connect, so just to reach out if he needs anything.”

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The Belangers say they will make another trip to Halifax when the ship returns.

HMCS Halifax is seen on the day of its deployment to European waters as a part of NATO’s Operation Reassurance, March 19, 2022. Amber Fryday / Global News

According to federal Defence Minister Anita Anand, the crew’s contribution to NATO’s deterrence measures will help Europe uphold its “strength and sovereignty.”

Speaking at the deployment, Anand said the frigate will help Canada fulfill its NATO commitment against what she calls “unwarranted and illegal Russian aggression.”

This comes after HMCS Montreal was deployed in January for the Mediterranean and Black Sea.

HMCS Halifax included an embedded Air Detachment with a CH-148 Cyclone helicopter and will serve as part of Standing NATO Maritime Group One on Operation Reassurance.

— With files from The Canadian Press.

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