Tearful goodbyes for departing crew of HMCS Regina

CFB Esquimalt ship to aid in counterterrorism operation

Leading Seaman Kerri Clinton takes a photo of a kiss thrown by her significant other

Just months before Leading Seaman Angelo Aires and Petty Officer 1st class Lindsay Stohl planned to say ‘I do’ at their wedding, they found themselves making do with hugs and kisses Tuesday morning before Stohl’s warship went to sea.

The Sooke couple planned to marry October, until word came that HMCS Regina was needed in the Arabian Sea to conduct patrols, as part of an American-led naval counterterrorism mission underway in the Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman, Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean.

“The navy doesn’t help with (wedding) planning,” Stohl quipped as she stood on the flight deck of the frigate, her arms wrapped tightly around her fiancé.

The tears in Stohl’s eyes were mirrored in the eyes of more than a hundred military members struggling through their final goodbyes to partners, parents, children, teens and a few tiny babies.

Many clutched packages of tissues handed out by Military Family Resource Centre staff members, standing on the nearby jetty.

“It’s hard,” said Aires, who only returned to CFB Esquimalt in February after a seven-month voyage to the Mediterranean Sea aboard HMCS Vancouver. “We’d like to get married. We’ll just make it happen when she gets back.”

While in the Arabian Sea, Stohl and about 250 army, navy, air force and civilian personnel will be on the lookout for vessels that may be running drugs, weapons or people, as well as monitor traffic patterns, and deter trouble in the unstable region.

To maximize patrol capabilities, seven unmanned aerial vehicles and a three-member civilian team from ING Engineering are going with Regina.

It marks the first time a West Coast naval warship will use the small rocket-fuel powered airplanes, which can fly more 15 hours non-stop as they record and relay data and images back to the ship.

“It’s exciting. It brings a whole new capability to the navy,” said Ottawa-based ING team leader Brian Williams, who operated the same ScanEagle remote-controlled technology in Afghanistan. “It’s another tool in their tool box.”

The voyage will be as difficult as it is rewarding for crew members over the next eight months, said navy Lt. Nigel Tully.

“These people get to go through and experience things that the average Canadian doesn’t get to do,” the Esquimalt resident said.

As the padre on board Regina, it will be his job to provide crew members with the spiritual guidance and mental and emotional support they need to do their jobs.

“I just get to know them as people and you have a different appreciation for what they are going through,” Tully said, watching a sailor snap one last family photo of a military member standing with his wife and two young boys.

Cmdr. Jason Boyd, commanding officer of Regina, said his goodbyes to his wife, his eight-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son at their Esquimalt home before heading to the ship.

“It’s a day of mixed emotions – mixed because it’s hard to leave any family behind for eight months,” Boyd said, adding that the mission also holds a lot of excitement.

“We’ve been working very hard for the last several months to get the ship and the people ready to do this. The day has come and we just want to get going.”

emccracken@vicnews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Some 500 people attend Sidney vigil for victims of Iran airplane crash

All 176 passengers, including 57 Canadians, died when Flight PS752 crashed

Saanich Police ask for help locating missing high-risk youth

Robyn Coker-Steel has not been in contact with anyone from her home since Dec. 27

Warm ‘blob’ could be behind mass starvation of North Pacific seabirds: Study

Unprecedented death toll raises red flag for North American marine ecosystems

Victoria’s reconciliation dialogue on newcomers, Indigenous peoples takes place Monday

The third of six discussions on reconciliation will take place at the Crystal Garden

VIDEO: Soldiers trade rifles for snow shovels to help dig out St. John’s

A state of emergency is set to extend into a fifth day

Power lines cut as thieves strike Vancouver Island veterinary hospital

‘Thankfully there weren’t any animals or staff in the clinic when this happened’

ICBC to bring in ranking system for collision, glass repair shops

Change comes after the much-maligned auto insurer has faced criticism for sky-high premiums

Surrey’s ‘Pink Palace’ being used for Stephen King horror shoot

New web series based on King’s The Stand novel

‘It was just so fast’: B.C. teen recalls 150-metre fall down Oregon mountain

Surrey’s Gurbaz Singh broke his leg on Mount Hood on Dec. 30

Vancouver Island Pride weekend returns to Mount Washington Alpine Resort

Building on the success of last year’s family-friendly pride festival on Vancouver… Continue reading

Scarlett Point lighthouse keeper wins a million bucks playing the lottery

“I usually just get a quick pick, so I didn’t expect to win a big prize”

B.C. woman crowned the fastest female marathon runner in Canadian history

Malindi Elmore ran an incredible 2:24:50 at the Houston Marathon

Alberta bulldog breeder ordered to refund B.C. buyer over puppy’s behaviour

Tribunal ruled a verbal agreement to send a new dog superseded the written contract

Most Read