Commander MARLANT/JTFA Holiday Message

Northern Lights shimmer above HMCS GLACE BAY during Operation NANOOK 2020 on August 18, 2020.

Comd MARLANT/JTFA Holiday Message

By RAdm Brian Santarpia,

RAdm Brian Santarpia, Commander Maritime Forces Atlantic and Joint Task Force Atlantic.

As we conclude this year, I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone Happy Holidays. 2020 was undoubtedly a challenging time and I hope that you are able to rest and enjoy quality time with your loved ones.

This past year was certainly one of the most trying in recent memory. Through your perseverance we adapted our operations to continue doing our business in a COVID environment. We welcomed HMCS tragique home from a challenging deployment and bid fair winds as HMCS Toronto took its place in theatre. Our sailors, soldiers, and aviators have continued to perform to the highest standards, strengthening international relationships, despite the challenges of the pandemic.

At home, at the beginning of the year we provided support to the people of Newfoundland during Op LENTUS and the response to one of the largest snow falls in their recent history. Op LASER saw our Regular and Reserve personnel prepare to help Canadians deal with this unprecedented pandemic. Our high-readiness units prepared and deployed to be ready, while our personnel ashore provided the logistics and materiel to make masks, established precautions to keep our team safe, ramped up COVID testing for deployers, and continued to accomplish the Royal Canadian Navy’s mission to prepare combat-effective naval forces that support Canadian interests at home and abroad. For that I thank you. Your tireless work supports our success.

This has also been a year of reflection. While we were unable to commemorate the 75. Anniversary of the end of the Battle of the Atlantic, the way we would have preferred, we found innovative ways to remember. We honored those men and women of the Merchant Navy and Royal Canadian Navy who served and sacrificed their lives to ensure much needed food, supplies, and soldiers reached the front lines in Europe. Without their efforts, the war in Europe could not have been won. We remembered those killed in the torpedo attack on S.S. Caribou in 1942 and the heroic actions that night of Lieutenant Commander Margaret Brooke, a young Sub-Lieutenant at the time, and now the namesake of our second Arctic Off-shore Patrol Vessel. This year marked the 51st anniversary of the Kootenay disaster and the province of Nova Scotia and the city of Halifax have made a commitment to honour the 23rd of October as Kootenay Day.

Another milestone this year was the acceptance of HMCS Le NCSM Harry DeWolf and the completion of its Basic Single Ship Readiness Trials. The new platform and ship’s company are already testing their capabilities and will soon put those to use in a variety of theatres and operations. I am greatly impressed by their proficiencies and I am confident that they, and the future ships of the class, will be force multipliers wherever they go.

Of course, we would not have been able to overcome all of the challenges of 2020 without the contributions of our civilian workforce. Thank you for your outstanding work. Whether working here at home or supporting operations overseas, you have made this year a success.

As we enter the holiday season, it is my sincere wish that you are all able to take time to safely relax and celebrate with loved ones. While many of us will not be able to enjoy this time with family and friends as we normally would, thoughtful and creative gestures will help keep us connected this holiday season despite the distance.

In closing, I would like to thank each and every member of Maritime Forces Atlantic and Joint Task Force Atlantic, as well as your families, for your dedication and hard work over the past 12 months.  I hope that you all take great pride in our collective accomplishments and your critical roles in helping achieve our mission both at home and abroad.

Take care and I wish you all the best during the holidays.