Outgoing CO reflects on 7 years with HMCS Harry DeWolf

A Change of Command ceremony for HMCS Harry DeWolf was held on January 21. From left, incoming Commanding Officer Cdr Geoff Simpson, Canadian Fleet Atlantic Deputy Commander Capt(N) Sheldon Gillis, and outgoing Commanding Officer Cdr Corey Gleason. The ceremony was held in accordance with all COVID-19 restrictions, with family, friends and shipmates tuning in to watch online.

Outgoing CO reflects on 7 years with HMCS Harry DeWolf

By Ryan Melanson,
Trident Staff

When Cdr Corey Gleason was first asked to take on the appointment as the first Commanding Officer of the Royal Canadian Navy’s first Arctic and Offshore Patrol Vessel, he was warned it wouldn’t be a quick job. He could be leading the unit for as long as five years.

“In fact, I spent the next seven years without my feet touching the ground, and now I’m finally coming in for a landing,” he said, during a Change of Command for HMCS Harry DeWolf on January 21.

Cdr Gleason took command of Harry DeWolf before steel was even cut on the ship itself, and stayed with the job through to its delivery to the Navy, sea trials, commissioning, and first deployments in 2020. He also played a major role in developing the policies and procedures that now guide the future of arctic naval service in Canada.

He said some of the biggest points of pride come from witnessing the accomplishments of the crew, particularly as years of planning culminated in the reality of the ship conducting successful operations around the world.

“I witnessed the steadfast determination of every single person involved in building up the ship. From scheduling and programming, training and development, the list could go on and on. They’ve all done their very best to help meet my mission objectives,” he said.

“We’ve announced loud and clear. The Royal Canadian Navy can operate anywhere the government needs us to… I can’t wait to see what Harry DeWolf does next.

The ceremony was presided over by Capt(N) Sheldon Gillis, Deputy Commander of Canadian Fleet Atlantic, who thanked Cdr Gleason for his work and welcomed his successor, Cdr Geoff Simpson, to his new role. Capt(N) Gillis noted he’s known Cdr Simpson personally for more than 20 years, and said he has no doubts his leadership will do “Hard Over Harry” proud, recalling the nickname of the ship’s namesake, VAdm Harry DeWolf.

As he steps into the job, Cdr Simpson said he’s already been able to spend time with Harry DeWolf’s crew, and expressed gratitude for the chance to work with an already-accomplished team on an exciting new platform. Cdr Simpson is also being given the rare opportunity to have a second command of a major warship, as he just recently led the efforts to bring HMCS Montreal back to fighting shape as that ship’s Commanding Officer up until summer 2021.

“I’m ecstatic to be working with you over the coming months,” he said to his new crew, while also thanking the MARLANT command team for the vote of confidence, and Cdr Gleason for the support and mentorship as he comes on board.

“I’m so grateful for everything Corey has done, and I’m grateful that he’ll get to continue mentoring me along the way,” he said, referencing Cdr Gleason’s next job, which will focus on small patrol vessels as part of the Sea Training group.

It’s expected that Cdr Simpson will take Harry DeWolf back to sea for deployments to the Arctic and to Operation Caribbe later in 2022.