Anticipation was in the air as friends and family members watched from Duntze Point when the HMCS Ottawa arrived home on Wednesday.
The ship left Esquimalt for the Asia-Pacific Region in August, taking part in Operation PROJECTION and Operation NEON, as well as joint training with partner Navies. Now the ship and crew are home just in time for the holidays. During Operation PROJECTION, the Canadian Armed Forces is conducting training, exercises, and engagements with foreign navies and other international security partners. During Operation NEON from 2019 into 2021, Canada is periodically deploying military ships, aircraft and personnel to conduct surveillance operations to identify suspected maritime sanctions evasion activities, in particular ship-to-ship transfers of fuel and other commodities banned by the United Nations Security Council resolutions (UNSCR).
“Anytime you come home from a deployment, it’s a very happy time for everybody on board, but this one leaving in the middle of summer, you know kids are out of school, people are on vacation, to then be gone for all of this time and then come home a week before Christmas, I think is even more special,” said Cmdr. Alexander Barlow.
Several significant others patiently waited that first embrace with their partner, but this year it was Evan and Jenn Lawrence who were awarded the “First Kiss”.
And of course it was a special moment for anxious parents.
“He’s come full circle, we stood on the shore and waived goodbye and knew he was off for adventure and to do what he needed to do and it just feels really celebratory and exciting,” said Donna Brandle, whose son was deployed.
For those on board, it was a successful trip. But there’s no place like home.
“It’s amazing we visited so many wonderful places Japan, Thailand even the States, but getting back home this is probably my favourite port,” said Able Seaman Jaxson Boyd.
And the ship did not arrive alone. The South Korean Navy rolled in about an hour prior on two different ships: the Navy destroyer Munmu the Great and the Korean supply ship Hwacheon. It’s the first time since 2006 the South Korean Navy is visiting western Canada. They’ll remain in Victoria for a few days to observe the training facilities at the Esquimalt base.