There were jubilant scenes and tearful reunions Sunday as two Royal Canadian Navy ships returned to Halifax after four-month deployments in the Baltic Sea.
HMCS Summerside and HMCS Shawinigan left Halifax on July 3 to take part in Operation Reassurance, Canada's contribution to NATO since Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in 2014.
Abbie DeCourcey, 7, and her family members were waiting with signs in hand to welcome back her cousin, Sam Stewart.
She said she missed him very much and was eager to see him again and fill him on what he missed during his absence.
Addelyn Devost said it seemed like her father, Steve, had been gone for an eternity. (Taryn Grant/CBC)
"I could show him some stuff that I learned," she said. "Like gymnastics. I'm kind of good at gymnastics and I wanna give him a very big hug."
Petty Officer Steve Devost got a warm welcome from his eight-year-old daughter, Addelyn.
She said he was gone for what seemed like an eternity but she was able to speak with him during his deployment.
Devost said he was looking forward to some lasagna from his wife's grandmother on his first day back. The Baltic mission was his sixth deployment.
"It was a great deployment and we did the job," he said. "We did the mission for Canada to make sure we ... have less and less mines in the Baltic to be safe for other ships."
Petty Officer Steve Devost was reunited with his 8-year-old daughter, Addelyn. (Taryn Grant/CBC)
Rear Admiral Josée Kurtz, the commander of Maritime Forces Atlantic, said the relatively small Canadian vessels did a "fantastic job" crossing the North Atlantic and working with their NATO group.
She said while the war in Ukraine is happening largely on land it is important for NATO to secure maritime traffic in the region.
Rear Admiral Josee Kurtz is the commander of Maritime Forces Atlantic (Taryn Grant/CBC)
Kurtz said seeing crew members reunited with their families after a deployment is probably her favourite part of the job.
"They were away from their families most of the summer," Kurtz said. "They were away and they sacrificed. And today they're coming home. They're reunited."
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