Commander of Royal Canadian Navy rowed ashore in time-honored tradition

Royal Canadian Navy Vice-Admiral Mark Norman was “rowed ashore” by senior naval officers as he relinquished command of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) on June 23, at Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship Carleton, home of Ottawa’s Naval Reserve Division, along the shore of Dow’s Lake.

In a 27-foot whaler borrowed from Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corps St. Lawrence in Kingston, Ont., VAdm Norman was afforded the customary courtesy extended to commanding officers leaving their ships (or shore establishments) for the last time. It was a fitting tribute to three years of service as Commander RCN.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my three years in command of Canada’s navy,” VAdm Norman said. “During this time, we set an aggressive agenda to fundamentally reorient, reengineer, restructure and revitalize the RCN. Many of the headlines focused on modernizing our existing ships and preparing for the future fleet. However, at the end of the day, for me, it’s all about people.”

“We’ve had the opportunity to modernize our culture, to reaffirm what ‘right looks like’ and to truly become ‘One Navy’, no longer defined by geography, rank, occupation or class of ship. Regular Force, Reserve Force and civilian, inside and outside the guardrails, we are now all pulling on the oars together.”

VAdm Norman has been appointed Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff and will remain in Ottawa.

Taking over as the new Commander RCN is Vice-Admiral Ron Lloyd. He is the 35th Commander of the RCN and has served in a variety of command and staff roles throughout his career, most recently as Deputy Commander RCN.

The formal change of command ceremony was presided over by General Jonathan Vance, Chief of the Defence Staff. Defence Minister Harjit S. Sajjan was also present.

During the ceremony VAdm Norman followed another naval tradition by ordering his yeoman to “strike my pennant (personal flag)”, thus being relieved of command. In return, VAdm Lloyd hoisted his own pennant and responded, “I have the watch.”