First change of command since 2019 for HMCS Goose Bay

HMCS Goose Bay

From left, Lieutenant-Commander Andrew Foran, Captain (Navy) Sheldon Gillis, and Commander Daniel Rice sign the paperwork making HMCS Goose Bay’s Change of Command official on Oct. 13. Photo supplied.

Joanie Veitch, 
Trident Staff

When Commander (Cdr) Daniel Rice took the helm of His Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Goose Bay in March 2019, he didn’t expect to be in command of the vessel for the next three-and-a-half years – 1,309 days to be exact.

Speaking to the ship’s company and other guests at his outgoing Change of Command ceremony – held at HMC Dockyard Halifax on Oct. 13 – Cdr Rice listed some of the more memorable moments from his time as captain, including that strange time in March 2020, when COVID-19 pandemic restrictions scrubbed scheduled missions off the calendar entirely. 

“In its place were a dispersed group of sailors working from home, and what an interesting period that was,” he said. “A boatload of force generation sailors, almost entirely within sight of Chebucto Head for nearly a year. An increasingly fatigued crew, who gave much of their time and energy preparing for missions that never came to fruition, and a culture change crisis that continues to grip the Canadian Armed Forces.”

Since restrictions began to ease, however, the ship and its crew have been going non-stop, with taskings that took them to ports in Northern Canada on two different iterations of Operation Nanook, West Africa on Operation Projection, and helping out with hurricane relief efforts in Newfoundland and Labrador after post-tropical storm Fiona devastated the Atlantic region.

“During these past 43 months, we spent some 370 days underway and steamed 60,000 nautical miles. That’s a long time to get to know your shipmates, to watch them grow, as sailors and officers, and to celebrate their accomplishments,” Cdr Rice said, giving credit to the various Coxswains and Executive Officers and the ship’s crew for their support.

“The sailors will impress you every day,” he said to Lieutenant-Commander (LCdr) Andrew Foran, the incoming HMCS Goose Bay Commanding Officer. “Command is a team sport, where the whole is greater than the sum of all its parts.”

Captain (Navy) Sheldon Gillis, Deputy Commander, Canadian Fleet Atlantic (CANFLTLANT), commended Cdr Rice for his time at the helm of the Kingston-class vessel, giving him top marks for mentoring his fellow officers and sailors and ‘setting a very high bar’ for regional engagements, such as Operation Projection in West Africa.

“The Goose Bay team has excelled in naval operations under the leadership of Dan Rice, demonstrating daily the strong, diverse and adaptive nature of the Atlantic fleet,” he said. “Dan, you have been an incredible ambassador for Canada.”

Welcoming Cdr Foran as incoming commander, Capt(N) Gillis said his recent command of HMCS Oriole demonstrates Cdr Foran has ‘all the tools necessary’ for a successful command.

“You possess the key traits to navigate the programs that these ships execute, which includes independent thought to make operational decisions, and diligence in genuinely caring for the crews with whom you serve,” said Capt(N) Gillis.

Thanking the CANFLTLANT command team for the opportunity to lead Goose Bay, Cdr Foran concluded his remarks with a direct address to the ship’s crew.

Thank you for being here and being part of the solution. I make this promise to you that I will always have your back as we face these challenges together,” he said.

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