Promotion ceremonies continue despite social distancing
By Ryan Melanson,
The Royal Canadian Navy’s ongoing effort to recognize the significant promotion from the rank of Master Seaman to Petty Officer, 2nd Class is beginning to look a little bit different.
A ceremony for the newest crop of POs was originally to be held in late March, but was cancelled as the Formation reverted to core and critical services only in an effort to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and maintain the capability of the force. Now, as virtual software becomes the new norm for meetings and planning sessions, command teams are also using those platforms to properly acknowledge their newly promoted sailors.
“For the new POs, it’s the only promotion that comes with entry to a new mess, and it’s big deal for someone’s career,” said PO1 Conrad Johnson, the Coxn of HMCS Goose Bay. The ship recently held a virtual ceremony to promote MS Simon Khoury, an NCI-Op, to his new rank of PO2, with PO1 Johnson, Goose Bay CO LCdr Daniel Rice, and others joining in on the videoconference.
Other aspects of the promotion, such as medical clearance, were also done differently due to the posture of the base, with email traffic temporarily replacing the official paperwork.
“Once that was all set, it was just a matter of coordinating everybody at the same time to get together and do it on Zoom,” PO1 Johnson added.
For newly promoted PO2 Cruz Alegre, a naval communicator who spent the last three years as staff with CANFLTLANT HQ, the ceremony was a necessary step as he prepared for his new posting with HMCS Toronto.
“So we decided to sort of roll with the punches and hold the promotion over video chat,” he said. He was joined on the Zoom call by Cmdre Richard Feltham and Fleet Chief CPO1 Tom Lizotte, as well as CPO2 Donald Perrie and LCdr Jackie Simpson. After his command team and supervisors shared a few nice words, they instructed PO2 Alegre’s fiancée on how to make it official.
“Since they couldn’t actually be present, the Fleet Chief and the Commodore asked her to help, and kind of walked her through the process of taking off my old rank of Master Seaman and placing the new rank on my shoulders.”
Though he’s mainly working from home for the time being, PO2 Alegre is now set to assume his new watch supervisor role with Toronto as the ship prepares for an Op REASSURANCE deployment later this year.
While holding proper, in-person promotion ceremonies would obviously be ideal, connecting with sailors at home and getting their loved ones involved also has its positives, PO1 Johnson said.
“I thought it was actually kind of nice. He was at home with his family, he has a little 4-month old, and his wife and baby might not have been able to attend the ceremony if it was held in person.”