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HMCS Charlottetown back in Halifax after six months at sea on NATO mission

Charlottetown’s crew had been taking part in Operation REASSURANCE in the Mediterranean Sea, since leaving Halifax in late June.

Lt. Adam Vaters gives his daughter Zara a kiss on the cheek on Friday after more than six months at sea on HMCS Charlottetown.

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Lt. Adam Vaters gives his daughter Zara a kiss on the cheek on Friday after more than six months at sea on HMCS Charlottetown.

HMCS Charlottetown brought the sun with her Friday morning when she pulled into Halifax after six long months at sea.

HMCS Charlottetown pulls into port in Halifax on Friday after participating in Operation REASSURANCE in the Mediterranean Sea for more than six months.

Zane Woodford/Metro

HMCS Charlottetown pulls into port in Halifax on Friday after participating in Operation REASSURANCE in the Mediterranean Sea for more than six months.

Charlottetown’s crew had been taking part in Operation REASSURANCE, the Canadian contribution to NATO assurance measures in the Mediterranean Sea, since leaving port in late June. The crew conducted counter-terrorism patrols, commanded ships from Poland, Italy, Denmark and Spain, and monitored a Russian task group off the coast of Syria.

A woman holds a bouquet of roses and takes a photo with her phone as HMCS Charlottetown pulls into port on Friday.

Zane Woodford/Metro

A woman holds a bouquet of roses and takes a photo with her phone as HMCS Charlottetown pulls into port on Friday.

The ship also made stops in Egypt, France, Greece, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Scotland, Spain and Turkey.

Jana and Jacelyn Slocum wait for master seaman Joshua Slocum of HMCS Charlottetown after more than six months at sea.

Zane Woodford/Metro

Jana and Jacelyn Slocum wait for master seaman Joshua Slocum of HMCS Charlottetown after more than six months at sea.

But there’s no place like home, especially after missing the holidays.

“I’ve never been so happy to see Halifax in my entire life,” said Lt. Adam Vaters after reuniting with his daughter Zara and son Brayden.

Lt. Adam Vaters holds his daughter Zara and his son Brayden on Friday after coming home from more than six months at sea aboard HMCS Charlottetown.

Zane Woodford/Metro

Lt. Adam Vaters holds his daughter Zara and his son Brayden on Friday after coming home from more than six months at sea aboard HMCS Charlottetown.

Charlottetown’s captain, Cmdr. Andrew Hingston, said it’s always tough being away from home over the holidays. But the crew had Christmas at sea, with secret Santa gift exchanges and a big meal, including a rank switch that resulted in Hingston doing a lot of dishes.

“If I couldn’t be with my family, being with this ship’s company was a strong second best,” Hingston said. “Morale was great.”

Cmdr. Andrew Hingston hugs his family after stepping off HMCS Charlottetown on Friday.

Zane Woodford/Metro

Cmdr. Andrew Hingston hugs his family after stepping off HMCS Charlottetown on Friday.

Hingston will give up command of the Charlottetown this week, and the ship will head back to the Mediterranean this summer.

“These ships, these workhorses, have the technology, the ruggedness and the versatility and agility to turn around a mission like this and go right back where Canada needs them on station,” said Maritimes Forces Atlantic commander Rear-Admiral John Newton.

Rear-Admiral John Newton speaks to reporters before HMCS Charlottetown pulls into port in Halifax on Friday.

Zane Woodford/Metro

Rear-Admiral John Newton speaks to reporters before HMCS Charlottetown pulls into port in Halifax on Friday.

HMCS St. John's left on Monday to replace the Charlottetown in the mission, as Newton put it, "to bring stability and security to the eastern Mediterranean and to reassure the NATO alliance.”

Master seaman Victor Harvey and Melissa Kelly got the first kiss after HMCS Charlottetown pulled into port in Halifax on Friday, Jan. 13, 2017 after more than six months at sea.

Zane Woodford/Metro

Master seaman Victor Harvey and Melissa Kelly got the first kiss after HMCS Charlottetown pulled into port in Halifax on Friday, Jan. 13, 2017 after more than six months at sea.

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