HALIFAX -- HALIFAX -- Two Royal Canadian Navy ships left Halifax Harbour on Saturday to fulfill a four-month sail to Africa, with family and friends seeing them off.

HMCS Glace Bay and HMCS Shawinigan have about 40 crew members on each ship.

The deployment is part of Operation Projection, making it the second time for HMCS Shawinigan taking part, and the first for HMCS Glace Bay.

The ships will be going to the Gulf of Guinea region and the continent's north-western coast.

“So we can learn how to operate better with our partners in West Africa,” says Owen Smith, HMCS Glace Bay Lieutenant-Commander. “And as well, we have shared security concerns, so we're going to be pushing the shared security concerns we have so we can all get better.”

“The ships are well prepared and very capable for this kind of mission,” says Commanding Officer of HMCS Shawinigan, Lieutenant-Commander Matthew Mitchell.

Mitchell notes challenges will begin almost immediately.

“We expect to get a little bit of chop when we get out there for a couple of days,” says Mitchell. “But once we get south, near the equator, we should have some nice calm seas for the crossing.”

Before leaving the dock, family and friends gathered, as they often do on deployment day – with plenty of mixed-emotions.

“You stay so busy at sea," says Mitchell. "We are 24-hours a day, seven days a week – so the time seems to pass fast for us. But I know it passes a lot slower for our families.”

HMCS Shawinigan and HMCS Glace Bay are slated to return in the spring – a sacrifice that never becomes any easier for loved ones.

“Right now, I’m not thinking about May,” says military family member Crystal Taylor. “I’m thinking about all the stuff that will happen between now and then that he's kind of missing.”