Hundreds of people gathered on a jetty at Halifax’s naval base Wednesday to bid farewell to 240 military members aboard HMCS Ville de Quebec as it headed to the Mediterranean as part of Canada’s ongoing contribution to a NATO mission in central and eastern Europe.
Under pouring rain, family, friends and dignitaries waved goodbye as the warship sounded a fog horn and departed through a heavy mist in Halifax harbour.
Children in brightly-coloured rain boots waved Canadian flags and homemade signs, one saying, “Bye Mommy, see you later” while another said, “Bon Voyage Daddy.”
Couples shielded from the rain under large umbrellas hugged and kissed goodbye before the six-month mission.
“It’s overwhelming,” said Vanessa Picard, standing on the jetty with her two young children after her husband departed. She called the experience of watching him sail off “surreal.”
It’s a familiar scene here at HMC Dockyard Halifax, as the commanding officer of the warship noted.
“It’s really hard on families,” said Cmdr. Scott Robinson, adding he was leaving behind his wife and two young children. “I’m not the only one. It weighs on you.”
Several ships deploy from the east coast base every year, but the HMCS Ville de Quebec send off was a significant milestone for the Canadian military.
On board the frigate was a CH-148 Cyclone helicopter — the first international mission for the new twin-engine machine.