Canadian ship sets sail for NATO Aegean mission

Canadian ship sets sail for NATO Aegean mission

OTTOWA - Anadolu Agency
Canadian ship sets sail for NATO Aegean mission

FILE - In this Jan. 14, 2014 file picture the supply ship Bonn leaves the German navy base Wilhelmshaven , Germany. AP Photo

The Canadian navy’s HMCS Fredericton has set sail for the Aegean Sea to take part in the new NATO mission to fight human traffickers and reduce the number of refugees crossing from Turkey to the European Union in search of a better life.

The HMCS Fredericton set sail to patrol the Aegean Sea after U.S. Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove, NATO’s supreme commander in Europe, ordered three ships for the assignment. 

NATO launched on Feb. 11 a naval mission in the Aegean Sea to tackle people smugglers transporting migrants and refugees from the Turkish coast, the alliance’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, said.

The move followed a request this week by alliance members Germany, Greece and Turkey for assistance in tackling Europe’s biggest migrant crisis since World War II.

According to NATO’s website, the flotilla is composed of a German navy flagship, the Bonn, and two other vessels, the Barbaros from Turkey and the Fredericton from Canada.

Canadian National Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said the NATO ships would support the Turkish Coast Guard vessels in the Aegean Sea. 

Speaking after NATO defense ministers approved the mission, Stoltenberg said Feb. 11 that NATO was “now directing the standing maritime group to move into the Aegean without delay and start maritime surveillance activities.”

The NATO chief said the migrant crisis, driven by conflict and turmoil in Syria and across the Middle East and North Africa, posed a major security threat to the 28-nation alliance.