New HMCS Halifax Coxn looks to maintain culture of success
By Ryan Melanson,
After a busy two year period consisting of multiple deployments and hundreds of days at sea, HMCS Halifax bid farewell to its senior non-commissioned member on March 4, with outgoing Coxn CPO1 Trent Mahoney stepping aside, and his successor, CPO1 Matthew Boniface, taking the reins.
A Change of Appointment ceremony was held in the ship’s hangar to mark the occasion – it’s part of a new initiative in the fleet to properly recognize this significant career milestone for non-commissioned sailors. Along with current and former members of Halifax who served under CPO1 Mahoney, senior chiefs and officers from across MARLANT were also in attendance.
As the Commanding Officer of Halifax for the majority of CPO1 Mahoney’s appointment, Cdr Scott Nelson, now CO of Sea Training Atlantic, spoke at the ceremony and had nothing but praise for his former Coxn. CPO1 Mahoney’s leadership was said to be crucial to Halifax’s recent success as the Flagship of Standing Nato Maritime Group 2 during the ship’s six-month Op REASSURANCE deployment.
“Successfully deploying a ship for seven months is a challenge that not a lot of crews and command teams have to go through. It’s the strongest test of a command team. You have to keep the crew motivated, and you have to keep them committed to the mission, while also maintaining morale,” Cdr Nelson said.
“He was able to achieve a very difficult balance between being an advisor to me, the ship’s captain, while also being a great advocate for the crew, but still enforcing the commander’s intent once the final decision was made.”
The outgoing Coxn himself left most of the talking to others at the ceremony, but shared a few brief words to thank the entire crew of Halifax and his wife Lynn for the support, and to wish his successor the best of luck during his appointment.
“It’s going to be extremely busy, but it’s also going to be the best two years of your life.” he said.
CPO1 Boniface comes to Halifax after having most recently worked as an Unmanned Aerial Systems project director for Director, Naval Requirements. He also brings deployment experience from time on a number of HMC ships, including a deployment to Op REASSURANCE with HMCS Charlottetown as the ship’s Combat Systems Engineering Chief.
He had a number of people to thank as he spoke to his new crew as Coxn for the first time, including Fleet Chief CPO1 Tom Lizotte and other former colleagues for their mentorship, and CPO1 Mahoney himself, for his role in setting Halifax’s new command team up for success.
This sentiment was echoed by Cdr Chris Rochon, Halifax’s new CO, who assumed command of the ship less than two months ago.
“We have the benefit of inheriting a ship that’s in great shape, with a feeling of family that’s clear all throughout the ship. The evidence of CPO1 Mahoney’s leadership is everywhere, and our goal is to continue on that path moving forward,” Cdr Rochon said.
CPO1 Boniface also thanked his wife Michelle, who surprised him by arriving unannounced to the ceremony along with their two young sons.
“She’s supported me through all the trips, all the deployments around the world, looking after our house and home and our family, never once showing any reservation,” he said.
The new Coxn added he’s looking forward to ensuring the culture of success continues in Halifax, and that the vessel continues to live up to its title of First in Class.