A Royal Canadian Navy frigate has arrived in Hong Kong for a six-day visit ahead of an exercise with the Chinese navy.

Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Vancouver is the third Royal Canadian Navy ship to visit Hong Kong since 2007. She will be stationed at the China Merchants Wharf in Kennedy Town until the morning of May 9.

Photo: Kris Cheng/HKFP.

The 134-meter Halifax-class vessel will not be open to the public, however students will be invited on board to meet its 220 sailors. The crew will join a charity event, friendly sports competition, and a wreath laying ceremony at the Sai Wan War Memorial before heading to the next stop in Singapore.

Photo: Kris Cheng/HKFP.

Rear Admiral Gilles Couturier, deputy commander of the Royal Canadian Navy, said that – after decades of sailing – it was finally his time to visit Hong Kong.

Rear Admiral Gilles Couturier (right). Photo: Kris Cheng/HKFP.

“I’ve got to learn about the beautiful city. This is the same thing for the sailors. This is an opportunity for them to learn and to go back home with some of the stories from your city,” said Couturier.

Commander Christopher Nucci said Hong Kong was set as the first major stop for the deployment simply for economic reasons.

Photo: Kris Cheng/HKFP.

“It is easy to start here, make this a kind of a showcase [in the] beginning of deployment that will take us through other countries in Southeast Asia, and then back to Hawaii for exercises,” he said.

Canadian Consul-General Jeff Nankivell said Hong Kong people who participate in cadet activities such as the Sea Scouts and the Adventure Corps have a connection with Canada.

Photo: Kris Cheng/HKFP.

Hong Kong was the frigate’s first port visit of its Operation PROJECTION Indo-Asia-Pacific deployment.

Toronto-born Flag Lieutenant Eric Poon, 27, was the only officer on board with a Hong Kong background. His father is from Hong Kong and his mother from Macau, and one of his siblings was born in Hong Kong.

Flag Lieutenant Eric Poon. Photo: Kris Cheng/HKFP.

He joined the navy reserves when he was 19 in university. He said he travelled to Hong Kong every three to four years to visit family and friends on personal trips, and the current trip was the first time he visited Hong Kong in uniform: “This time I came in uniform with my crew members to represent Canada. I feel very touched.”

Photo: Kris Cheng/HKFP.

Poon, a part-time officer, said his interest in military started when he did an air cadet programme when he was younger, and he has just finished a masters’ degree in nutrition. He said he was hoping to go to the medical school at the University of Toronto.

Photo: Kris Cheng/HKFP.

“I have to choose between, would I rather be working with a doctor, or would I rather go sail to Hong Kong? Honestly, sailing to Hong Kong is to me, equally as interesting as becoming a physician,” he said.

“I would advise kids to do what you like and chase your dreams.”

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.