New Formation Chief brings valuable experience to MARLANT
By Ryan Melanson,
CPO1 Tom Lizotte will be a familiar face to many as he steps into his new role as the Maritime Forces Atlantic Formation Chief. He not only spent the last year as Fleet Chief on the Atlantic coast, but also brings experience as the former Coxn of Sea Training Atlantic, the Coxn of HMCS Montreal, and as part of the ship’s company of a number of additional east coast vessels.
“The Navy has been very good to me and has given me all of the opportunity I could ask for, so I’m truly honoured and very humbled to be selected as the Formation Chief,” CPO1 Lizotte said during a small Change of Appointment ceremony held on June 12.
He takes over the role from CPO1 Derek Kitching, who served as Formation Chief for nearly two years, and who CPO1 Lizotte said has long been a friend and mentor to him.
“It’s not going to be easy following a great person like Derek Kitching, but I look forward to it.”
RAdm Craig Baines, Commander MARLANT and JTFA, welcomed CPO1 Lizotte to the Formation office, noting that he’s enjoyed watching him progress through the ranks over recent years. He also had praise for his outgoing chief, who stepped into the role during a demanding time, and had his abilities tested by the difficult and tragic events that have hit the RCN community in 2020.
“The post of a Formation Chief isn’t like any other job in the RCN,” RAdm Baines said, describing the role as straddling the line between the strategic, tactical, and operational realms, while also acting as a bridge between senior officers and the NCM corps. In this role, as well as acting as the eyes and ears of the Formation while providing advice to senior officers, CPO1 Kitching excelled, he added.
“He was exceptional, and I was always impressed by his unfailing positive attitude and enthusiasm with everything he did.”
While RAdm Baines won’t be working with CPO1 Lizotte for long before stepping aside for his own successor in RAdm Brian Santarpia, he expressed confidence that the new Chief will use his years of experience to continue the positive momentum that began under CPO1 Kitching’s watch.
“I know he’s going to continue to empower and energize our Master Seamen and below as they carry out the lions’ share of our work at sea,” RAdm Baines said.
CPO1 Kitching, who will soon be commissioning and taking on a new role with FMF Cape Scott, said he’s been struck by the resilience of the Formation’s sailors during his time in the job, specifically through these recent pandemic months and following the tragedy of Stalker 22 and its crew being lost during operations with HMCS Fredericton. He added his main advice to his successor would be to focus on taking care of these young members as they progress to become the next generation of Naval leaders.
“Our young sailors are terrific. They’re smarter and better educated than we ever were, and they can do way more than we give them credit for. Set the benchmarks high and they will always impress you,” CPO1 Kitching said.