A Navy Milestone: First female hard sea West Coast Coxswain

Chief Petty Officer First Class Line Laurendeau, incoming Coxswain of HMCS Winnipeg, addresses those in attendance at the Change of Appointment ceremony. Photo by S1 Kendric Grasby, Imaging Services

Chief Petty Officer First Class Line Laurendeau, incoming Coxswain of HMCS Winnipeg, addresses those in attendance at the Change of Appointment ceremony. Photo by S1 Kendric Grasby, Imaging Services

Peter Mallett
Staff Writer
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HMCS Winnipeg made Royal Canadian Navy history when CPO1 Line Laurendeau was appointed senior non-commissioned officer on the ship.

She replaces CPO1 Pascal Harel as the ship’s Coxswain, and in doing so is the first female Coxswain, hard sea trade, on the West Coast.

“Becoming a navy Coxswain was a dream of mine and becoming the Coxswain of Winnipeg today is a moment I will remember for years to come,” said CPO1 Laurendeau, during the change of appointment on April 20. “To the crew of HMCS Winnipeg, my goal is to become the best leader I can be.”

The event was presided over by Cdr Doug Layton, Winnipeg Commandering Officer, with Cmdre Angus Topshee, Commander Canadian Fleet Pacific, Deputy Commander Capt(N) Scott Robinson, and Fleet Chief, CPO1 Sylvain Jaquemot as guests. The proceedings were streamed on Facebook Live.

It is the third time CPO1 Laurendeau has assumed a position occupied by CPO1 Harel.

In 2014 she replaced him as Coxswain in HMCS Edmonton. Then in January 2020 she succeeded him in her last post as Unit Chief Petty Officer for Base Administration.

In his address he expressed no doubt in her ability to do the job. 

“She is going to do well. She already has a good idea of what she is getting in to and it should be a seamless transition for her.”

Naval Fleet School (Pacific) is his next post as their Chief Petty Officer.

Twenty-eight years of service to Canada in the Canadian Armed Forces has prepared CPO1 Laurendeau for the job to lead and manage all personnel on board Winnipeg.

She joined the military in March 1993 as a Naval Acoustic Operator. CPO1 Laurendeau served from the rank of Ordinary Seaman (Sailor Third Class) up to CPO2 in HMC Ships Ottawa, Calgary, Vancouver, Algonquin, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Saskatoon. She has also served as a naval boarding party member, recruit instructor, area cadet advisor, training coordinator, and Chief Sonar Operator at Canadian Fleet Pacific.

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The historic importance of her appointment was amplified by Cdr Layton, who described her as someone who has enjoyed a ground-breaking career.

CPO1 Laurendeau is the fifth woman in Canada to hold the position of Coxswain on a major warship.

In 2004, CPO1 Jan Davis (West Coast) became the first woman Coxswain of a major warship. In 2010, CPO1 Dana McLellan (East Coast) became the first woman in a hard sea trade on the East Coast.

CPO1 Janet Graham-Smith (West Coast) became the third Coxswain in 2019 and CPO1 Alena Mondelli (East Coast) became the first woman to sail at every rank as a hard sea trade on a major warship throughout her career.

CPO1 Laurendeau (West Coast) followed suit as the second hard sea trade to have sailed at every rank.

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Filed Under: Top Stories

About the Author: The Lookout Newspaper can trace its history back to April 1943 when CFB Esquimalt’s first newspaper was published. Since then, Lookout has grown into the award winning source for Pacific Navy News. Leading the way towards interactive social media reach, we are a community resource newspaper growing a world wide audience.

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  1. CDR ret'd) Fraser McKee says:

    Great to see really good news about the RCN in the papers for a change. And showing clearly our Navy’s abilities to find within its ranks people – male or female no-matter – who can just ‘do the jog.’ BZ to CPO Laurendeau AND to the system in which she has served,

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