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Canadian warships depart for Indo-Pacific operation, fulfilling promise to increase naval presence in region

HMCS Ottawa, one of two frigates that were deployed to the Indo-Pacific region before returning home on Dec. 18, 2023, is pictured. (Sailor 1st Class Victoria Ioganov/Maritime Forces Pacific) HMCS Ottawa, one of two frigates that were deployed to the Indo-Pacific region before returning home on Dec. 18, 2023, is pictured. (Sailor 1st Class Victoria Ioganov/Maritime Forces Pacific)
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The Canadian military is delivering on its promise to increase the number of warships deployed annually to the Indo-Pacific region from two ships to three, starting this summer.

Royal Canadian Navy frigates HMCS Ottawa and HMCS Vancouver left Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt, west of Victoria, on Monday.

The ships will be accompanied by naval supply vessel Asterix and a pair of Royal Canadian Air Force Cyclone helicopters on their nearly five-month deployment.

Former defence minister Anita Anand announced in June that Canada would enhance its presence in the Indo-Pacific region with the deployment of one additional warship annually to the region under Operation Horizon, which replaces the longstanding Operation Projection.

The deployment follows the March deployment of HMCS Montreal to the Indo-Pacific region from Halifax, marking the first time a Canadian warship was deployed to the Indo-Pacific region from the East Coast.

HMCS Montreal is due to return to Halifax in September.

Last fall, the federal government announced it was investing nearly $2.3 billion over five years to forge closer ties with countries in the region as part of its Indo-Pacific strategy.

The funding included $493 million to bolster Canada's naval presence by deploying a third frigate and increasing participation in regional military exercises.

"The Indo-Pacific region is vital to global security, and its importance will only increase in the coming years," National Defence Minister Bill Blair said in a statement Monday.

"Through our Indo-Pacific strategy, Canada is significantly increasing its military presence in the region to support a free, open, and inclusive Indo-Pacific where international rules prevail."

Each naval frigate carries a crew of approximately 240 personnel, while the Asterix carries a crew of about 150 civilian and military personnel.

The ships are expected to participate in a series of bilateral and multinational exercises, with HMCS Ottawa operating in Southeast Asia while HMCS Vancouver focuses on Northeast Asia.

HMCS Vancouver will also contribute to the longstanding Operation Neon, Canada's contribution to United Nations sanctions enforcement and monitoring activities against North Korea.

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