Coxn describes time aboard HMCS St. John’s as a career highlight
By Ryan Melanson,
The outgoing Coxswain of HMCS St. John’s says his 16-month posting to the unit has been the high point of his CAF career, and that his successor is lucky to be joining the ‘best ship in the fleet.’
St. John’s held a Change of Appointment ceremony for its senior non-commissioned member on January 20, with CPO1 Cavel Shebib stepping aside, and incoming Coxn CPO1 Simon Strasbourg officially taking over the role.
CPO1 Shebib’s time as Coxn included trips to four Canadian provinces and 10 different nations with St. John’s, with public outreach, commemorative ceremonies, and international exercises all being a part of the ship’s busy program over the past 16 months. He gave credit to the entire crew for being instrumental to the ship during this time period, with a specific shout-out to the chiefs of the various departments.
“St. John’s would not have been successful over these past 16 months without their amazing work and leadership. I appreciate their friendship, and that they always had the ability and the courage to speak up when it mattered,” CPO1 Shebib said. He mentioned taskings like the 2019 Great Lakes Deployment and Exercise FORMIDABLE SHIELD, along with internal matters like Duty PO changes and the implementation of the new cannabis policy, as situations where he was able to rely heavily on his team members.
CPO1 Shebib also spoke about the ship’s strong command team and his great working relationship with Commanding Officer Cdr Peter Sproule. He said he never had to worry about his CO backing up his chiefs or trusting them to act in difficult situations, and Cdr Sproule echoed that sentiment in his own comments about his outgoing chief.
“On all ends of the spectrum, he has been my sounding board, my point of experience and expertise, and the ship could not have succeeded in all those efforts without his leadership,” Cdr Sproule said.
“We’re the best ship in the fleet because we have a crew who believes it, and they come in everyday expecting to live up to that standard. As part of the leadership triad, I’m confident in every respect that we’ll continue to foster that environment on board.”
St. John’s’ new Coxn, CPO1 Simon Strasbourg, brings experience serving in eight different HMC ships through his career, including St. John’s itself in the late 90s, with positions including Senior Naval Communicator and Combat Chief, as well as shore experience at the former CFNOS, MARLANT HQ, BIS, and elsewhere. He said he has fond memories of his earlier posting with St. John’s, and that he’s looking forward to maintaining the reputation that recently earned the ship the Admiral’s Cup.
“There’s no doubt there will be challenges along the way, but we’ll face them together, and I’m looking forward to being part of it.”
The ceremony also included flowers being presented to the families of both the incoming and outgoing Coxns, and further presentations were made to CPO1 Shebib at a gathering in the ship’s Junior Ranks’ Mess following the formal event.