From Frigate to AOPV: Cdr Nicholson takes command of HMCS Harry DeWolf

Cdr Jon Nicholson, seen here delivering a farewell address to HMCS St. John’s on January 16, stepped in as CO of HMCS Harry DeWolf the very next day. S1 BRYAN UNDERWOOD

From Frigate to AOPV: Cdr Nicholson takes command of HMCS Harry DeWolf

By Ryan Melanson,
Trident Staff

Commodore Trevor MacLean, Commander Canadian Fleet Atlantic (centre) presents the Commanding Officer Plaque to Commander (Cdr) Guillaum Côtê, outgoing CO (right) and Cdr Jon Nicholson, incoming CO of HMCS Harry DeWolf during the ship’s Change of Command Ceremony on January 17.

After relinquishing command of His Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) St. John’s on January 16, Commander Jon Nicholson had about 24 hours to decompress before stepping right into his next command, leading the ship’s company of HMCS Harry DeWolf.

“It’s a great honour to have been selected for another command and to have the great privilege of getting to know a whole new team,” Cdr Nicholson said during a Change of Command ceremony onboard Harry DeWolf on January 17.

His time with St. John’s was focused on the ship’s reactivation period, preparing the crew to begin their tiered readiness program.

“Now, I’m truly going into uncharted territory; this is a new class of ship for me and a whole new challenge I can’t wait to get started on,” he said.

Because of this, he added, he’ll be leveraging the leadership and experience of his crew to get him up to speed and guide him through the coming months.

Cdr Nicholson takes over from outgoing CO Guillaume Côté, who spent 18 months in the role. Though his command began with the ship requiring unexpected repairs due to mechanical issues, Cdr Côté said the latter part of his tour brought career highlights. The ship made the furthest trip north yet for the AOPV fleet during Operation Nanook 2023, and conducted important public outreach during the recent Great Lakes Deployment that was unfortunately cut short due to a COVID-19 outbreak.

Cdr Côté said the opportunity to return to sea as CO of Harry DeWolf, after last serving as the Executive Office aboard the former HMCS Athabaskan in 2017, was very meaningful – as was leaving Montreal to end the Great Lakes Deployment last year, with family members waving at the jetty.

“That was probably one of the hardest moments of my career, because I knew from that point on, my life at sea was basically over,” he said.

Cdr Côté wished his successor well in his new role, and said he hopes Cdr Nicholson takes Harry DeWolf even further north (potentially delivering coffee to CFS Alert, he joked) and continues to discover untapped potential in what is still a new platform for the RCN. He compared growing pains with the Harry-DeWolf class to those experienced during the first decade with the Halifax-class Frigates.

“This is a ship that will be working extremely hard for you, and we’re only beginning to discover what these platforms are capable of. I can’t wait to see what you achieve,” he said.