Heading up the gangplank onto the deck of HMCS Fredericton, Chris Peters waved one last time to his wife Tammy and his 17-month-old son, Brady, yesterday as his ship prepared to pull away from the Halifax naval dockyards.
“Leaving your family at home is always hard,” said Peters. “It’s everything you’re going to miss…coming home and seeing how big he’s gotten.”
It was a soggy, wind-swept sendoff for the 245 military personnel who bade goodbye to tearful children, husbands, wives and parents on the docks yesterday morning. With military precision, the ship set sail at 11 a.m. for a six-month deployment to the Middle East. It will be integrated into the standing NATO Maritime Group providing security operations in the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean.
Cmdr. Steve Waddell said this is his fifth deployment to the area and if he has learned anything, it's to expect the unexpected.
“It’s been a long time getting ready for this, and we’re ready to go,” said Waddell. “Once we arrive in November, we’ll be working in a counter-piracy role off the Horn of Africa. After that, perhaps a little bit more of the anti-terrorism work against al-Qaeda into the new year.”
For many members of the crew, including Peters, the journey marks the first time they will be away from home for so long.
“It doesn’t seem real yet,” said Tammy Peters, clutching her happily gurgling toddler. “I think after the first month, it’ll hit me.”
For Lisa Mullin, it was an all-too familiar scene. Her husband, Donald, has been deployed six times before and she said the week leading up to his departure is always the hardest on her and their two children, Hunter and Madalyn.
“Once we adjust, we adjust,” she said, shrugging. “We’re independent, and we’ve taught our kids to be independent. People say I knew this when I married him, but knowing it and liking it are two different things.”