Arriving home on the navy’s 100th birthday was icing on the cake for many of the 240 crew members of the HMCS Fredericton.

“It’s amazing and incomparable to anything I’ve ever experienced in my life,” said 24-year-old Lance Kellner.

As the Fredericton sailed into the harbour yesterday morning, the crew was incredibly anxious to see their families after spending six months at sea. In fact, the first sailor off the ship proposed to his girlfriend on the spot.

“Everybody was on pins and needles and anxious to get on shore,” Kellner said. “I have to say it was the longest half hour to get that brow across this morning.”

Tears were streaming down his proud mother’s face as she waited for the crew to disembark.

Debby Kellner’s family has a long history with the navy: her grandfather sailed when the Canadian navy was created in 1910, and her husband sailed on the Fredericton during his career.

“I’m used to my husband going for 25 years and now I’m watching my son,” she said.
“That’s my baby, but he’s not a baby anymore.”

Sisters Beatrix, 2, and Penelope Brown, 4, hugged and waved a flag while they waited for their dad yesterday.

Six months is a long time to be without a dad for a two-year-old, said mother Holly Brown.

“She’s been wondering if she has a dad and who her dad is. It’s been really hard,” said Brown.
“We had to come here a couple weeks ago for a meeting and she thought we were coming to pick up her dad. She just started crying and saying ‘where’s my dad?’”

The Fredericton spent the past six months policing the Gulf of Aden, the Arabian Sea, and the Indian Ocean. It worked with both NATO and the Combined Task Force 150 to counter piracy and terrorism.

Lt. Eric Isabelle said the Fredericton made its presence known in the area and its crew inspected a number of vessels.

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