For the first time in eight years, Canadian warships are not participating in either of the two NATO naval task forces tasked with patrolling European waters.
Canada had been a constant presence in naval groups since 2014, deploying at least one Halifax-class frigate to protect and defend the North Atlantic and the Mediterranean.
The federal Liberal government made it a point to deploy a second of the warships earlier this year as part of its response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
But Defense Department spokeswoman Jessica Lamirande said Canada had no frigate attached to either naval group after HMCS Montreal and Halifax returned last month.
Lamirande says the decision not to send new frigates follows the decision to deploy two ships to the Asia-Pacific region, and also due to fleet maintenance and training needs.
Canada has two smaller warships that help NATO detect and clear mines from European waters.
But experts say the lack of Canadian frigates in Europe demonstrates the trade-offs Canada must make with its navy, which struggles with a dwindling fleet of aging ships and a lack of skilled sailors.