New leader emerges for Pacific Fleet

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After two years leading the Royal Canadian Navy’s fleet on the west coast, Commodore (Cmdre) Bob Auchterlonie relinquished command of Canadian Fleet Pacific (CANFLTPAC) at a change of command ceremony last Wednesday.

Standing dockside with HMCS Calgary at his back, Cmdre Auchterlonie officially signed over command to Captain (Navy) Jeffery Zwick.

“When I took command we weren’t talking about domestic terrorism, Russian aggression in the Ukraine, ISIS nor the potential collapse of the European Union,” said Cmdre Auchterlonie during his address.

“But all of that has come to pass with more events on the horizon – events that the Canadian Fleet Pacific is ready to respond to. The qualities of courage, superior training and leadership exist throughout this fleet, and they will continue to guide us in the future regardless of the circumstances around the globe.”

During a traditional two-year term at the helm of CANFLTPAC and the Canadian Naval Training System, Cmdre Auchterlonie has navigated the fleet through some stormy seas.

Only two months after taking command in July 2013, he was pressed into action after a collision involving HMCS Algonquin and HMCS Protecteur.

Then in February 2014, Protecteur suffered a major, debilitating fire.

The incidents led to the premature paying off of both ships.

In July 2014, he ordered HMCS Whitehorse home after three incidents of misconduct during naval exercises off San Diego.

“Bob, it has not been an easy two years, but you tackled every challenge with professionalism and composure demonstrating outstanding leadership abilities,” said RAdm Truelove, Commander Maritime Forces Pacific, who presided over the ceremony.

“You and I have weathered a few storms together and I can’t thank you enough for your personal friendship, support and solid advice.”

There were bright moments for the Commodore and the fleet during his tenure, including the Pacific Fleet’s participation in Operation Caribbe.

In March of this year, HMCS Winnipeg assisted the U.S. Coast Guard in executing a highly successful drug bust off Costa Rica.

Cmdre Auchterlonie will now become Director General Plans with Strategic Joint Staff in Ottawa.

Both he and RAdm Truelove praised the qualifications and abilities of Capt(N) Zwick to guide CANFLTPAC into the future.

“I know that you will ensure the ships that sail from this great harbour to safeguard Canadians and their interests will always be ready and well equipped,” said RAdm Truelove.

“Thanks for taking on this challenge, I know that you will excel.”

Capt(N) Zwick joined the Canadian Forces in 1989 after receiving a Bachelor of Arts Degree in history at the University of British Columbia.

While Commander of HMCS Montreal in 2007, he spearheaded a massive drug bust and seizure of 4.3 metric tonnes of cocaine in the Caribbean. 

He was promoted to Captain (Navy) in 2010 and served as the Director of Transformation and Strategic Planning in Ottawa, as well as Director  Defence Force Planning.

“I now have a role ensuring that the RCN, through the Pacific fleet, remains a team that can train and develop sailors in the name of service to Canada,” he said in his address.

“I look forward to working with you all in taking the Pacific fleet into the future. Admiral Truelove Sir, I have the fleet.”

Peter Mallett
Staff writer

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