Though unplanned, it proved fitting that the outgoing commander of West Coast naval operations included a salute to Canada’s flagship submarine in his goodbyes.
Rear-Admiral Nigel Greenwood handed over command of Maritime Forces Pacific and Joint Task Force Pacific to Rear-Admiral Bill Truelove at CFB Esquimalt on Monday.
“Such a pleasure to see Victoria sailing out of this harbour on cue, and that’s the way it’s going to happen from here on in,” Greenwood told invited guests.
After five years in the shop, HMCS Victoria returned to sea early last year, under Greenwood’s watch. On Monday, he watched it cut smoothly towards the Strait of Juan de Fuca, another step towards full operational status.
“She’s going to give lie to all those passive doubters who thought we couldn’t do it. As a navy, we’ll prove them wrong, again and again. To my mind, Victoria represents our navy – small and powerful, deployable and potent – and that’s the kind of reputation we have around the world here.”
Greenwood also hinted at the difficulty in retiring after a fulfilling 37-year naval career. “I’ve seen other admirals pass this podium before in a similar circumstance. There’s one thing they don’t tell you about swallowing the anchor, it tends to get stuck in your throat.”
Truelove, a Nova Scotia native, is taking on a role that involves enormous responsibility. As commander of Maritime Forces Pacific, he will be in control of Canadian maritime forces in the Pacific Ocean. As commander of Joint Task Force Pacific, he can give the order to deploy military personnel to domestic emergencies in B.C.
He will also be responsible for search-and-rescue response in B.C. and the Yukon, and for the Cadet organization in B.C.
“I’m not sure how it could feel any better than this,” Truelove said, as Greenwood, Vice-Admiral Paul Maddison, commander of the Royal Canadian Navy; and Lt.-Gen. Walter Semianiw, commander of Canada Command, looked on.
Truelove, who joined the military in 1981, brings a wealth of experience to the position. He recently returned from a nine-month deployment in Afghanistan.
Truelove has served on the West Coast before, as commanding officer of HMCS Regina, from 2001 to 2003, and the Naval Officer Training Centre until 2004.
“I am excited to be taking the helm as we move through the next phase of transformation across the Canadian Forces, while also navigating a complex period of fleet renewal,” he said, “and at the same time, ensuring that this formation remains as it always has – ‘ready aye ready’ to respond when called upon by our nation.”