HMCS Fredericton leaves Halifax for 6-month operation

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HMCS Fredericton left Halifax around 10 a.m. AT Saturday.  (Brett Ruskin/CBC - image credit)
HMCS Fredericton left Halifax around 10 a.m. AT Saturday. (Brett Ruskin/CBC - image credit)

HMCS Fredericton sailed out of the Halifax harbour on its fourth deployment Saturday for a nearly six-month journey into North Atlantic and European waters.

The ship left just after 10 a.m. AT Saturday.

This is the vessel's first mission since it returned to port nearly one year ago after a helicopter crash that claimed the lives of six crew members.

The ship's commanding officer, Andrew Graham, gave a speech just before departure. He said the vessel has an entirely new crew, and that pulling that crew together in less than 12 months was a huge feat.

Graham also acknowledged the hardships of being on a ship for long periods of time, saying the crew's mental health is extremely important. He wanted his crew to know there are people for them to talk to.

"Don't suffer through this alone," he said.

Because of COVID-19 restrictions, family and friends weren't allowed to send off the crew in person. The departure was instead streamed live on Facebook. The crew received many online messages wishing them safe travels and fair seas.

A media statement from Maritime Forces Atlantic said as part of Operation Reassurance, HMCS Fredericton will take part in NATO exercises to strengthen the Royal Canadian Navy's "ability to effectively conduct combined maritime operations with our allies."

HMCS Halifax participated in the same mission. It returned to port in Halifax earlier this week, where two crew members tested positive for COVID-19. A third case aboard the ship was recorded Friday. All three are asymptomatic.

Five crew members from HMCS Halifax are now aboard HMCS Fredericton. Major Mark Gough, the senior public affairs officer for Maritime Forces Atlantic, said they each had three negative COVID-19 tests, but are bubbled in their own section of HMCS Fredericton for now.

Once all tests from HMCS Halifax come back, they'll be allowed to mingle with the rest of their crew.

HMCS Fredericton is expected to return to the city by Christmas.

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