The war ship HMCS Charlottetown set sail from the port of Halifax in eastern Canada on Wednesday to join a US-led flotilla off the coast of Libya, live television images in Ottawa showed.
The 134-meter (440-foot) patrol frigate carrying 225 sailors and a Sea King helicopter on deck is expected to meet up as early as next week with the USS Kearsarge, an amphibious assault ship accompanied by two other vessels.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper ordered the vessel to the Mediterranean, telling parliament it would take part in international evacuation operations "in light of the trouble and likely ongoing concerns in the region."
Canada also sent a 13-member military reconnaissance team and medics to Malta along with a C-130J cargo jet and two C-17 jumbo transport aircraft to assist in the evacuation of foreign nationals from Libya, and to help in possible future humanitarian aid efforts.
Local media also reported that Canadian special forces were "on standby" for deployment in Libya, but the government did not confirm this information.