Meet the new Fleet Chief – Chief Petty Officer First Class David Bisal

Peter Mallett, 
Staff Writer

The Fleet Chief of Canadian Fleet Pacific (CanFleetPAC) is embracing his new job with great enthusiasm.

“I was very happy and honoured with the appointment but it comes with a great deal of responsibility along with a sharp learning curve,” said Chief Petty Officer First Class (CPO1) David Bisal. “All my jobs in the past have been in the tactical realm of the Navy and I have spent a lot of time during my career at sea.”

CPO1 Bisal replaced CPO1 Arvid Lee as CanFleetPAC’s most senior non-commissioned member when CPO1 Lee moved on to become Formation Chief of Maritime Forces Pacific (MARPAC) at the end of August. The moment marked a new chapter for CPO1 Bisal, who spent most of his 32 years of military service at sea on Canadian vessels as Boatswain.

CPO1 Bisal’s path to the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) began in June 1990 when he enrolled at Esquimalt, B.C., as a Boatswain. He spent the first two decades serving on HMCS Huron, Protecteur and Regina. He also had two shore postings as a Seamanship Instructor.

Some of his most rewarding deployments included serving on former RCN Supply Ship HMCS Protecteur during Op Altair in the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea in 2008.

“I was aboard Protecteur for seven years and [OP Altair] was likely the best time because of the amazing port visits during the deployment to places including Puerto Rico, Italy, and Greece,” he said.

CPO1 Bisal said being a Chief Petty Officer on ships and other units for the past six years has been an excellent way to groom him for his new job.

“My experience at sea, along with my more recent and previous positions on ships, is a good fit for the job,” he said. “That’s because I will be helping senior leadership and others understand the challenges when ship’s deploy and what is going on, on the water.”

One of CPO1 Bisal’s critical responsibilities as Fleet Chief is to advocate for non-commissioned members with senior leadership. He is to provide advice and counsel to the Commodore and various organizations at the base, including the Military Family Resource Centre (MFRC). CPO1 Bisal said the support the MFRC provides to families, including his own, has been crucial to mission success. His own family has always been highly supportive and crucial to his career success, he said.

In 2009, he was promoted to Chief Petty Officer Second Class, with his first posting at Canadian Operational Support Command (CANOSCOM) HQ. He returned to the West Coast as Chief Boatswain Mate of HMCS Regina in 2011. He later served in the same position at Sea Training Pacific and then Coxswain (Cox’n) of the Patrol Craft Training Unit.

CPO1 Bisal was promoted to Chief Petty Officer First Class in 2016 and posted at Naval Staff in Ottawa until selected as Cox’n of HMCS Regina in 2018. He was later posted to Assistant Judge Advocate General (AJAG). Then in May 2021, he assumed the position of Cox’n, Sea Training Pacific.

He said his wealth of experience helps him understand the last few years of adversity better.

“We managed to continue doing the business of going to sea in the midst of a global pandemic and did this incredibly well, despite the many challenges,” said CPO1 Bisal. 

He noted how these deployments included pre-embarkation protocol (quarantines), frequent COVID-19 testing,  health monitoring, and spending days, weeks, and months at sea when sailors could not get ashore in ports of call.

“I really want to commend everyone who deployed and continues to deploy as the global pandemic continues to unfold,” he said. “It is a great challenge and everyone who took part in past deployments with their intense restrictions and protocol should be extremely proud of completing the mission.”

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