Cmdre Cassivi reflects on year-long posting at CFB Esquimalt

Cpl Blaine Sewell, MARPAC Imaging Services Cmdre Luc Cassivi (centre) receives his new rank from Base Chief Petty Officer CPO1 Shawn Taylor (left) and Commander Maritime Forces Pacific/Joint Task Force Pacific, RAdm Bill Truelove (right).

Cmdre Luc Cassivi (centre) receives his new rank from Base Chief Petty Officer CPO1 Shawn Taylor (left) and Commander Maritime Forces Pacific/Joint Task Force Pacific, RAdm Bill Truelove (right).

The promotion is in and the epaulettes have been changed. Capt(N) Luc Cassivi is now Commodore and set to head to Ottawa for his next assignment – Director General Naval Strategic Readiness at National Defence Headquarters.

Last Wednesday marked his final moments as CFB Esquimalt’s twentieth Base Commander when he officially handed over the job to Capt(N) Steve Waddell.

His journey from the small town of New Richmond, Quebec, to becoming one of the navy’s highest ranking officers has been built on opportunity and curiosity. He joined the navy for the education but stayed for three decades because of its diversity.

“It’s constant change; there’s never an occasion where it’s a steady rhythm. The navy provides many challenges and chances to try something new. That’s what hooked me,” he says.

 The variety of work has included submarine and surface ships, even working with the Royal Australian Navy in the officer exchange program, and high level desk jobs.

Last June he landed in the corner office in Naden 5, assuming his “mayorship” over CFB Esquimalt. Having spent most of his time “in pointy end operational” work, the prospect of the year-long job was both exciting and anxiety-filled.

“My biggest experience with the civilian workforce was three admin assistants, so having a large civilian workforce and dealing with unions, and the outside community was all new territory,” he says of the first few days managing the second largest base in Canada.

The Base Commander portfolio includes delivery of support services to 70 separate organizations located at CFB Esquimalt. Plus he is the landlord for $1.6 billion in real estate assets covering 14,939 hectares on 23 sites as far north as Masset and east to the lower mainland. He oversees seven branches, similar to those found in most large municipalities, comprised of 850 civilian and 350 military personnel.  

 The steep learning curve was quickly overcome through the guidance of the skilled team around him, and a Masters in Business Administration he earned four years prior.

“It enabled me to get up to speed quicker, as this job demands lots of business intelligence.”

One year is not a lot of time to leave a mark, but Cmdre Cassivi says he made good strides developing a better understanding between the branches of each other’s challenges. This was especially important with the current fiscal restraints.

“We needed to look at how we each function so we can be cohesive moving forward,” he says.   “No branch is isolated.”

He hopes he has changed the branch management DNA to one that is set to risk manage together in this new culture of fiscal scrutiny.

“You never leave a job with the feeling you’ve done everything you set out to do. The base is a living organism that demands constant care and attention.”

To the new Base Commander he says, “Be yourself, it’s all about the people.”

While he has plenty of mementoes to load onto the moving truck and unpack in his new office in Ottawa, it is the relationships he has made in Victoria that matter the most.

“Great memories of great people, that’s what I’m taking with me,” he says.

That and a better understanding of the full spectrum of what the navy is and what it needs.

“I’ve gained an incredible appreciation of the bigger machine, and my next job is looking after that machine,” he says. “Everything I’ve been exposed to here is a tool for my next job.”



Melissa Atkinson, Lookout Managing Editor

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