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RCN welcomes new Commander

On 30 May 2022, Vice-Admiral (VAdm) Angus Topshee assumed the duties of Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy (CRCN) from Vice-Admiral Craig Baines in a change of command ceremony presided over by General Wayne Eyre, Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS).

The Change of Command ceremony was held at Her Majesty’s Canadian Dockyard, Halifax, home of Maritime Forces Atlantic.

Change of Command
Vice-Admiral Angus Topshee (left) assumed the duties of Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy from VAdm Craig Baines (right) in a change of command ceremony presided over by General Wayne Eyre, Chief of the Defence Staff (centre)

VAdm Topshee assumes Command as the 38th Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy. He has served in a variety of command and staff roles throughout his career, most recently serving as Commander Maritime Forces Pacific and Joint Task Force Pacific.

The outgoing CRCN, VAdm Baines, will retire from the Canadian Armed Forces after 35 years of service.

On June 2nd, a change of appointment will see Chief Petty Officer 1st Class (CPO1) Thomas Lizotte assume the role of Command Chief of the RCN from CPO1 David Steeves who will retire after 33 years of service.

General Wayne Eyre, Chief of the Defence Staff, thanked VAdm Baines for “maintaining the watch over the RCN since January 2021." General Eyre then noted the new Commander's 32 years of service. “VAdm Topshee has worked tirelessly to affect change with his attention to detail and work ethic. In his new role as CRCN, VAdm Topshee will ensure the RCN continues to modernize and deliver operational excellence around the world, while pursuing the important work of making our Navy more inclusive for all our sailors.’’

Outgoing RCN Commander, VAdm Baines commented on experiences as CRCN. “To lead Canadian sailors as Commander Royal Canadian Navy over the past year and a half without question, has been a privilege. It is inspirational to serve with a group of outstanding Canadians, called to serve in uniform on behalf of their country, their family and friends. Leading these dedicated Canadians has frequently been a humbling experience which will remain with me the rest of my life. I am confident that the RCN will continue to sail smoothly under the watch of Vice-Admiral Topshee.”

The incoming Commander Royal Canadian Navy, VAdm Topshee thanked VAdm Baines "for the leadership he has provided to the Royal Canadian Navy during his tenure as Commander of the RCN, and throughout his 35-year career. It is an honour to become the 38th CRCN. Our Canadian sailors are the best in the world and I will strive to be worthy of their support in my new position." He went on to identify a key focus on "attracting and recruiting more great Canadians to join our ranks while continuing to make the Royal Canadian Navy the welcoming, inclusive and enabling environment that they, and every current sailor deserve. The RCN has a clear vision of where we’ll be in 20 years, and my intent is to continue delivering that future fleet so that we hand over the watch in good shape to the next generation.”

VAdm Topshee’s career in the Royal Canadian Navy has been a combination of sea-going appointments and staff officer positions throughout his 32 years of service. He started his career at the Royal Military College (RMC) of Canada, being awarded the Canada Memorial Scholarship on graduation. Following RMC, he completed a Masters of Literature in Strategic Studies from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.

Vice Admiral Angus Topshee is the 38th Commander of the RCN.

VAdm Topshee joined his first ship, HMCS Winnipeg, in 1997. Over the next several years, he completed several tours as the ships’ Navigating Officer, Operations Officer, and Combat Officer. He served as the Executive Officer of HMCS St. John's in 2006 and Toronto in July 2007. Following these postings, he was posted to the Directorate of Maritime Strategy at National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa, and thereafter returned to sea as the Commanding Officer of HMCS Algonquin, in 2009.

Notably in 2010, Vice-Admiral Topshee was deployed to the NATO Training Mission – Afghanistan (NTM-A) where he spent a year based in Kabul as the Director of Afghan National Police Training Operations.

Between 2012 and 2015 Topshee served as the Base Commander of Canadian Forces Base Halifax. Following this, was posted to Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado as the Deputy Director of the Strategy, Policy and Plans Directorate North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM). He returned to the Pacific coast in 2018, as Commander Canadian Fleet Pacific, and was appointed in 2021 to Commander Maritime Forces Pacific and Joint Task Force Pacific.

The Royal Canadian Navy consists of approximately 8,300 Regular Force and 3,600 Reserve sailors, supported by approximately 3,800 civilian employees.

The mission of the Royal Canadian Navy is to generate combat-capable, multipurpose maritime forces that support Canada’s efforts to participate in security operations anywhere in the world, as part of an integrated Canadian Armed Forces.

The Royal Canadian Navy fleet, divided between the Atlantic (Halifax, N.S.) and Pacific (Esquimalt, B.C.) coasts, is composed of 28 warships, submarines, and coastal defence vessels, plus many more auxiliary and support vessels.

True to its motto “Ready, Aye, Ready”, the sailors of the Royal Canadian Navy stand always ready to defend Canada and proudly safeguard its interests and values whether at home or abroad.