More than a decade after hijacked planes attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Canada is still deploying soldiers and sailors for the U.S.-led war on terrorism that was launched on Sept. 11, 2001.
On Tuesday, the 11th anniversary of 9/11, some of these Canadian Forces members are coming home, their latest assignment over.
Defence Minister Peter MacKay will stand in Halifax Harbour on Tuesday to greet the return of the HMCS Charlottetown, a Canadian warship that's spent 247 days at sea this year on counterterrorism and security-and-stability operations.
The Charlottetown and its 250-member crew have travelled more than 51,400 nautical miles – or 95,300 kilometres – during one of the longest deployments in recent Canadian naval history.
Its most recent assignment was Operation Artemis, part of the multinational Combined Task Force 150's efforts to fight terrorism and related illegal activities that terrorists use to finance their operations and conceal their movements.
In the Arabian Sea region from May to August, the Canadian frigate patrolled waters that are a vital artery of world trade; they constitute parts of shipping routes from the Far East to Europe and North America.
Earlier this year, the Charlottetown was deployed on Operation Metric, near Africa and the Middle East in the Mediterranean. From January to April, it served as part of NATO's counterterrorism mission in the region.
Mr. MacKay, accompanied by Chief of the Defence Staff General Walter Natynczyk and associate defence minister Bernard Valcourt, will meet with families of the Charlottetown crew to celebrate the sailors' return.
The Charlottetown was carrying a new tool during its voyage: an unmanned aerial vehicle, or drone, that enabled remote surveillance of a wider area. The ScanEagle UAV conducted about 400 hours of aerial missions.
The Charlottetown's stops along the way, in the name of reinforcing relations in the region, included Lisbon, Portugal, and Taranto, Italy, as well as Souda Bay in Crete and Djibouti. The frigate also visited Naples, Italy and Salalah and Muscat in Oman as well as Piraeus, Greece.