Military personnel from CFB Esquimalt are preparing to head to a Libyan war zone aboard HMCS Vancouver.
Under the command of Cmdr. Brad Peats, 250 officers and crew members, including a Sea King helicopter crew, will leave the naval base for the Mediterranean Sea, on Sunday (July 10).
The patrol frigate may be away for about six to seven months.
The armed warship, which carries anti-submarine, surface and air weapons, is replacing Canadian Navy vessel, HMCS Charlottetown, which was deployed to the region in March to join NATO-led efforts to enforce the UN-backed arms embargo at sea and no-fly zone over Libya. The country has been embroiled in a deadly battle as rebel forces attempt to oust Libyan ruler Moammar Gadhafi.
The Charlottetown has been escorting and ensuring safe skies above for vulnerable mine-countermeasures vessels and replenishment ships, according to the Department of National Defence. It is not known when it will return to its home base at CFB Halifax, said Larose.
“The deployment of HMCS Vancouver demonstrates that the Government of Canada is resolute in its determination to continue the enforcement of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973,” said National Defence Minister Peter MacKay in a press release Wednesday.
“Canada remains steadfast in its commitment to protect the Libyan people from threats of violence," MacKay said.
Working with NATO forces, the Vancouver will continue to keep arms and mercenaries from entering Libya, and ensure safe air and sea passage for humanitarian assistance. Canada's military contribution to the Libyan mission is known as Operation Mobile. About 650 personnel are currently deployed in the central Mediterranean region.
HMCS Charlottetown made headlines in early June when rockets were fired upon the ship from the coast of Libya. The frigate was not hit and no injuries were sustained in the attack.
“Our ships and sailors are always ready to do the job asked of them by Canada. I am proud that Vancouver will soon continue the important work off the coast of Libya in helping save civilian lives,” said Vice-Admiral Dean McFadden, Chief of the Maritime Staff, in a prepared statement.
“Operating in the congested air-sea environment off Libya is particularly challenging, but the crew of Vancouver is well trained to meet this challenge and make a real difference," McFadden said.