HALIFAX - Hundreds of people gathered on a jetty at Halifax's naval base today to bid farewell to 240 military members aboard HMCS Ville de Quebec.

Under pouring rain, family, friends and dignitaries waved goodbye as the warship departed in thick fog for the Mediterranean Sea, part of Canada's ongoing contribution to a NATO mission in central and eastern Europe.

On board was a CH-148 Cyclone helicopter, marking the first international deployment of the Canadian military's new state-of-the-art, twin-engine machine.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan called the departure of the frigate and maritime helicopter a significant milestone for the Royal Canadian Navy and Royal Canadian Air Force.

Cmdr. Scott Robinson says the ship's company has worked hard preparing for the mission and is ready to meet the challenges of Operation Reassurance.

He says saying goodbye to loved ones at HMC Dockyard Halifax is a challenge, but that the crew is excited to help strengthen international and regional stability in the region.