A Canadian navy frigate began a six-day port call in Hong Kong on Thursday, ahead of an exercise with the Chinese navy outside of the city. The HMCS Vancouver arrived at about 10am, making the first port visit of its trip to Asia. Although the 440-foot vessel will not be open to the public, the 220 sailors on board were scheduled to meet civilians and their local counterparts in Hong Kong. The crew will also invite students to visit the frigate and will take part in a charity event. “I’ve got to learn about your 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 of your city,” said Rear Admiral Gilles Couturier, deputy commander of the Royal Canadian Navy, visiting Hong Kong for the first time in his 50 years of sailing. “Hong Kong is the first major stop of the deployment simply for economical reasons. It is easy to start here, making this a kind of a showcase [when] we are getting a deployment throughout the Southeast Asia region, then back to Hawaii for exercises [in July].” Commander Christopher Nucci said the crew would conduct a series of exercises after the port call. “Upon departure from Hong Kong, we will work with a People’s Liberation Army Navy ship for about a day on basic coordination exercises and training exercises to build up common understanding of how we operate together,” Nucci said. Eric Poon, 27, was the only sailor on board with a Hong Kong background. His father was born in Hong Kong, and his mother was from Macau. Born in Toronto, Poon joined the navy reserve at age 19. He said he travelled to Hong Kong every three to four years in his spare time to see family and friends. The sailor said he felt special visiting the city in navy uniform for the first time. “This time I came in uniform with my crew members to represent Canada. I feel very touched,” the naval warfare officer said. “I would advise kids to become a crew member if that is their interest. They should explore more when they are young instead of just studying. Do what you like and explore opportunities.” The HMCS Vancouver is a 4,800-tonne Halifax-class frigate, which carries extensive anti-submarine and anti-surface weapons and sensors to complement its substantial anti-air defences. It is the third Royal Canadian Navy ship to visit Hong Kong since 2007, and will berth at the China Merchants Wharf in Kennedy Town.