Navy, Air Force crews return to Esquimalt in time for holidays after 127 day deployment

Navy, Air Force crews return to Esquimalt in time for holidays after 127 day deployment
Seunghee Ryu and her husband were the first kiss of the crew returning on Dec. 18, 2023.

Family and friends of crews of three Navy ships and one Air Force plane were in Esquimalt Monday, excited to welcome their loved ones home just in time for the holidays.

The Esquimalt event, one week before Christmas, saw 650 sailors and aircrew arrive to a sea of family, friends and dignitaries.

The first kiss of this ship’s return was awarded to Navy cook Seunghee Ryu.

“I missed my husband, and now I am super happy to see my husband,” exclaimed Ryu.

Commander Sam Patchell told CHEK News that the journey has some major ocean swell challenges but there were some memorable moments along the way.

“We did a kind of Japanese style, we had bento boxes, some big boxes of Kentucky fried chicken, some sake, and really just that festive family gathering. It felt like Christmas with family,” said Patchell.

The three ships, HMCS Ottawa and Vancouver, Motor Vessel (MV) Asterix, and the Royal Canadian Air Force CP-140 Aurora visited seven countries: Japan, the Republic of Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and the United States.

The deployment marked a major milestone for Canadian Armed Forces by showing a presence in the Indo-Pacific. This marks the first year that Canada deployed three warships to the Indo-Pacific region, delivering on the commitment that Canada made when it launched its Indo-Pacific Strategy.

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