As we look forward towards the approaching holiday period, I wish to acknowledge your tremendous accomplishments over the past year, as well as to share my perspective on what those accomplishments meant to the RCN.
This was a year when you, the men and women of the RCN, uniformed and civilian, as well as the airmen and airwomen of the RCAF’s maritime air fleets with whom we work so proudly, continued “ready, aye ready” to make a difference for Canada.
From the patrols you conducted in the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific to help keep drugs off Canadian streets, recently exemplified by HMCS Ottawa’s successful drug interception off the coast of Costa Rica, through the presence you exerted in Canada’s three ocean approaches and particularly in the Arctic, you demonstrated the RCN’s strategic relevance to domestic and continental defence and security.
Abroad, you continued to support the nation’s diplomacy in the Americas and the Asia-Pacific as only navies can, while advancing our most important navy-to-navy relationships around the world. At the same time, you executed Canadian foreign policy superbly, maintaining a presence in the Arabian Sea for much of the year, following a Government decision to keep the CF in a region of great strategic interest to Canada. The tactical and leadership excellence you displayed at all times, but especially on the international stage during RIMPAC 2012, proved once again why the RCN is so widely admired and respected by our sister navies around the world.
Ashore, the RCN remained lock-step with CF transformation, translating the outcomes of the third strategic planning meeting, held in January, into concrete actions to reorient the navy’s core readiness and training processes around new single pan-naval authorities that were established in the spring. We moved measurably closer to the “Canada First” fleet, working closely with our industry partners and ADM(Mat) to guide seven frigates through the Halifax-class modernization pipeline. In this vein, the RCN achieved an important fleet milestone when the lead-ship HMCS Halifax recently returned to sea to begin the post-refit trials that will lead to first article acceptance of the class.
An equally important fleet milestone was reached this summer when HMCS Victoria successfully conducted a quote warshot unquote heavyweight torpedo firing during RIMPAC. With HMCS Windsor back at sea on the East Coast to progress its readiness program over the coming months, we are well on our way towards achieving a steady-state operational posture for the submarine fleet in 2013.
Here in Ottawa, we continued to progress the Joint Support Ship, Arctic Offshore Patrol Ship and Canadian Surface Combatant towards important project milestones, even as we helped to refashion the way Canada conceives, designs and builds modern ships through the auspices of the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy.
This was an exceptionally busy year in bringing the RCN’s story to Canadians across this great country. Key moments including the naming of the RCN monument in Ottawa, presided over by Prime Minister Harper; a highly successful Rendezvous Naval de Québec, and the Great Lakes Deployment, this year conducted in support of national commemorations of the bicentennial of the War of 1812, during which HMC ships Ville de Québec, Moncton and Summerside visited Canadian and American ports in all five Great Lakes. Four new and highly formidable ambassadors joined our ranks, as Honorary Captains (Navy) Adrian Burns, Arlene Dickinson, Fred George and Mark McQueen donned their naval uniforms for the first time this year.
I recognize that the RCN could not have achieved so much without the entire defence team in support, without our Friends of the Navy working tirelessly on our behalf to help bring our story to Canadians, or without industry working hard to deliver the tools you need. But even so, I continue every day to be inspired by the tremendous pride you take in your work, your uncanny ability to get things done and your fierce determination to overcome any obstacles. BRAVO ZULU.
That you achieved so much is also testament to the tremendous support we all received from loved ones and families at home. Those who awaited your return from lengthy deployments at sea or working long hours ashore, foregoing the many simple but important moments that make up family life, also serve Canada in a very real way. I ask all of you to thank them on my behalf.
In closing, as you prepare to gather with friends and families during this holiday period, I would ask that you pause to remember your deployed shipmates, keeping the watch for Canada at sea or in operations ashore around the globe, whose immediate duties in defence of Canada prevent them from sharing in the joys of the festive season. Finally, whatever your faith or beliefs, please accept my most sincere best wishes for a safe and truly happy holiday season.VAdm Paul Maddison