HMCS Ottawa honoured with award

Capt(N) Art McDonald and CPO1 Tom Riefesel accept the J.J. Kinley Award

Capt(N) Art McDonald and RCN Command Chief CPO1 Tom Riefesel accept the J.J. Kinley Award from VAdm Ron Buck (Ret’d), National President of the Navy League of Canada, on behalf of HMCS Ottawa.

The crew of HMCS Ottawa received a prestigious commendation last week when the commanding officer, Cdr Scott Van Will and his crew were honoured with the J.J. Kinley Award. 

Capt(N) Art MacDonald and RCN Command Chief CPO1 Tom Riefesel accepted the award from the National Board of Directors of the Navy League of Canada (NLC) on behalf of Ottawa.

“Ottawa was chosen largely due to the recent work off the coast of Coast Rica as part of Operation Carribe, and in seizing over $26 million worth of cocaine,” says Louise Mercer, Vice President of Maritime Affairs. “Cdr Van Will and his crew demonstrated their commitment to Canadian and North American security, and solidified the many opportunities Canada leverages to partner with other nations and organizations to suppress criminal activity at sea, and keep illegal drugs off our streets.”

The J.J. Kinley Award is presented each year by the NLC to members, employees or units of the Canadian Coast Guard, Department of Fisheries and Oceans or the Canadian Forces who have made contributions to support naval and maritime interests.

The nomination process for the award is handled exclusively by Navy League Executives, past presidents and the Royal Canadian Navy.

According to Mercer the choice was not hard.

“Ottawa played a major role in suppressing trafficking in international waters and airspace,” she says. “It’s easy to reward and recognize heroism. It’s only difficult because other ships are also engaged in equally valuable work with strong crews.”

CPO1 Sid Tobias, Coxswain in Ottawa, says the award came as a surprise to the crew.

“The crew was more than happy to receive the award. I think they feel they aren’t always recognized for the sheer variety of tasks they undertake, so it came as a welcome surprise.”

Ottawa was away from its home port of CFB Esquimalt for 190 days last year, 170 of which were spent at sea.

“Other ships were deployed on major missions that focused on a singular task, while Ottawa was ready for anything at the drop of a hat,” he says. “The crew is proud of that, and this award solidifies and justifies that pride.”

-Shawn O’Hara, Staff Writer

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