Outgoing HMCS Charlottetown/Montréal CO praises crew members
By Ryan Melanson,
As he attempted to summarize his time as Commanding Officer, first of HMCS Montréal, and then of HMCS Charlottetown, Commander Christopher Devita said it made most sense to focus on the accomplishments of his crew.
This is both because of the classified nature of much of the ship’s exploits as part of the NATO fleet in 2022, and also because of the sheer amount of work that was thrown at his sailors.
From the early days of workups and exercises that required fixing equipment, training sailors, and solving deficiencies, to the difficulties surrounding the Omicron COVID-19 variant, to constantly shifting mission requirements, the expectations were lofty, he said. When the ship’s company arrived in Rota Spain in February of 2022 to begin an Operation Reassurance deployment, they did so with immense pride.
“I’ve never been more proud of a ship’s company, and the fighting spirit that was displayed by the team,” Cdr Devita said during a Change of Command ceremony on board HMCS Charlottetown on February 6.
“The deployment had many challenges. It included an evolving and then diminishing COVID situation, the war in Ukraine, and a number of close encounters with Russian forces, all taking place far from home. But yet, the crew did it, and did it well.”
After returning to Halifax, the crew also dealt with the added task of completing a full crew swap from HMCS Montréal to Charlottetown in September of last year. Some shipmates were posted out, with new shipmates taking their place, but the new Charlottetown team remained a cohesive family that has worked tirelessly to begin bringing a second ship into fighting shape, Cdr Devita said.
“Charlottetown is now able to sail. She’s progressing through new missions set before her, and getting stronger every day.”
As the presiding officer for the Change of Command, Cmdre Trevor MacLean, Commander Canadian Fleet Atlantic, described the occasion as a special one due to the extraordinary amount of work put on Cdr Devita and his team since the summer of 2021.
“The crew completed everything we asked – the mission, the crew swap, and getting Charlottetown moving again. That’s serious work, and a testament to Cdr Devita’s leadership,” he said.
Cmdre MacLean added that the program for the incoming Commanding Officer, Cdr Nicholas Buxton, will also bring similar challenges, as the ship’s company works to bring Charlottetown to full readiness ahead of upcoming exercises and an expected stint as the flagship of NATO Standing Maritime Group 2 in the Mediterranean in 2024.
Cdr Buxton is a former Executive Officer of HMCS Halifax through 2018/2019, and was most recently the Commanding Officer of Naval Training Development Centre (Atlantic).
Stepping into his new role and speaking to his new crew for the first time, along with a number of family members in attendance, Cdr Buxton said he was ‘truly humbled’ to be trusted with the responsibility of commanding a Halifax-class frigate for the next two years.
“I’m so excited to begin working with the ship’s company as we face our future challenges of trials, training, force generation, international exercises, work periods, and eventually deployment,” he said.