DND News

Frigates return to home port

Defence Minister Anita Anand welcomed home the companies of His Majesty’s Canadian Ships (HMCS) Vancouver and Winnipeg as they returned to their homeport of Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt, after successfully completing their deployments on Operations PROJECTION and NEON.

Friends and family gather in anticipation of HMCS Vancouver and Winnipeg returning to home port.

Since sailing to the Indo-Pacific region in early August, the Halifax-class frigates have carried out an ambitious schedule, which included port calls to eight countries, including HMCS Winnipeg’s port call to Cambodia – a first for a Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) ship – thereby strengthening Canada’s relationships abroad. Port visits also took place in Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea, Singapore and Thailand.

HMCS Winnipeg participates in Op Neon
A CH-148 Cyclone helicopter and CP-140 Aurora maritime patrol aircraft fly over HMCS Winnipeg as part of a photo exercise in the Asia-Pacific Region during Operation NEON. (Photo: S1 Valerie LeClair)

HMCS Vancouver, along with a Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) CP-140 long-range patrol aircraft, also deployed on Op NEON, Canada’s contribution to multinational efforts to monitor sanctions imposed on North Korea by the United Nations Security Council.

HMCS Vancouver
HMCS Vancouver is escorted to Vancouver, British Columbia by a Sea King helicopter and Rigid Hull Inflated Boats (RHIBs) in November 2014. (Photo: LS Ogle Henry)

The presence of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) in the Indo-Pacific region demonstrates Canada’s ongoing commitment to enhancing military interoperability, cooperation, and relationships with our allies and partners, consistent with our objective to increase Canada’s contribution to stability and security in the region.

On this deployment, the ships conducted 38 replenishments at sea with multiple partner nations, including a first-time replenishment at sea with a Japanese Izumo-class helicopter carrier. This Japanese carrier resupplied HMCS Winnipeg, and His Majesty’s New Zealand Ship Aotearoa resupplied HMCS VancouverFurther, RCN ships participated in seven international exercises, including the signature binational exercise with Japan, KAEDEX (derived from “kaede,” meaning “maple” in Japanese). As well, for the first time, Canada had two frigates and a CP-140 aircraft participating in Exercise KEEN SWORD, which this year included approximately 36,000 military personnel.

HMCS Winnipeg sails alongside Japanese destroyer JS Shimakaze in the Asia-Pacific region during Operation NEON in 2020. (Photo: S1 Valerie LeClair)

During her visit to British Columbia, Minister Anand highlighted Canada’s new Indo-Pacific Strategy, which lays out Canada’s whole-of-Government approach to the region. Minister Anand reiterated that this strategy invests over $490 million to reinforce Canada’s defence presence in the region, including by deploying a third frigate annually to the Indo-Pacific Region. This Strategy will strengthen Canada’s defence partnerships in the region in support of international peace and stability.

“The Indo-Pacific is the fastest growing economic region in the world, and virtually every single security issue in the future will run through this region, commented Minister Anand. "For the past six months, our sailors and aviators have worked hard to deepen our defence cooperation with our partners and allies in the Indo-Pacific. I thank these Canadian Armed Forces members for their service and dedication to Canada, and for being ambassadors of Canada’s commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.  Wherever I go, our allies and partners say that they want to see more of Canada – and through Canada’s Indo-Pacific Strategy, that is exactly what we will deliver.”

Vice-Admiral Bob Auchterlonie, Commander Canadian Joint Operations Command, explained that such operations are "critical" to Canadian endeavours abroad. "The Indo-Pacific region represents incredible challenges and opportunities both for the peace and prosperity of the globe. The CAF is committed to taking an active role alongside our friends and partners. Our sizable contribution highlights the enduring commitment of the CAF to ensure that the rules-based international order is respected.

  • HMCS Winnipeg, focused on Southeast Asia from August 8th until December 5th, spent 118 days deployed on Op PROJECTION.
  • HMCS Vancouver, focused on Northeast Asia, completed 89 days deployed on Op PROJECTION, and 32 days on Op NEON, from August 8th until December 5th.
  • Both RCN warships will have each transited over 37,000 nautical miles (68,524 km) by the time they return home. 
  • The CP-140 Air Detachment based out of Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan, from October 8th to November 5th, flew over 100 hours in support of Op NEON.
  • Each RCN frigate has a crew of approximately 230 personnel, comprising RCN sailors and a RCAF detachment to fly and support the ship’s embarked CH-148 Cyclone maritime helicopter. 
  • The CP-140 Aurora was supported by an Air Detachment of approximately 40 personnel.
  • During Op PROJECTION, the CAF conducts training and exercises, and engagements with foreign navies and other international security partners, contributing to making the world a safer place. This was the eighth Op PROJECTION deployment to the Indo-Pacific since 2018.
  • Op NEON is Canada’s contribution to a coordinated multinational initiative to support the monitoring of United Nations Security Council sanctions imposed against North Korea. Since 2019, the CAF has frequently deployed ships, aircraft, and personnel to conduct surveillance on North Korean maritime sanctions evasion activities.

On 27 November 2022, the Government launched Canada’s Indo-Pacific Strategy, which among its objectives, seeks to promote peace, resilience, and security in the region through the reinforcement of Canada’s Indo-Pacific naval presence, and by increasing CAF participation in regional military exercises. The Strategy allocates $492.9 million to the Department of National Defence and the CAF over five years to enable Canada’s Enhanced Defence Presence and Contribution.