NPTG welcomes commander of new HMCS Venture

Anna Muselius 
Communications Advisor, NPTG

On July 15, in a signing ceremony held at Work Point at CFB Esquimalt, Commander (Cdr) Mike Stefanson was officially appointed as the inaugural Commanding Officer of HMCS Venture, the Royal Canadian Navy’s (RCN) naval leadership training centre. The ceremony was presided over by Commodore David Mazur, Acting Assistant Chief of Naval Staff, Personnel and Training.

HMCS Venture is the name of the new unit that will operate out of the Collier Building under the command of Naval Personnel and Training Group (NPTG). HMCS Venture, and its link to leadership training, dates back to 1910. The unit will develop and deliver RCN leadership education, from foundational courses to capstone training for both officers and non-commissioned members (NCMs) as part of NPTG’s continued evolution and realignment of the Group’s structure.

The more familiar Naval Officer Training Centre (NOTC), a former division within Naval Fleet School (Pacific), will move to HMCS Venture with minimal disruption. This division will focus primarily on Naval Warfare Officer (NWO) management and training, from post-Basic Military Officer Qualification (BMOQ) to the NWO Primary Qualification level, as well as Fleet Navigating Officer (FNO) training and management.

“Like all Naval Warfare Officers, I started my naval career at Venture,” Cdr Stefanson said after the ceremony. “Now, returning to HMCS Venture, this time as the Commanding Officer of the new naval leadership training centre, what has inspired me most, is seeing the instructors and staff are still deeply committed and passionate about developing future RCN leaders. Similarly, the students are still keen to learn, to serve, and to lead.”

Two other divisions will fall under the command of HMCS Venture. These include a Naval Technical Officer (NTO) Division which will focus on training from post-BMOQ up to Head of Department, and a Leadership Division which has responsibility for both RCN officer and NCM leadership training initiatives. Discussion is ongoing concerning a possible fourth division, which would be responsible for Patrol Craft Training (PCT).

“With the role of HMCS Venture now expanding to deliver leadership training to not only NWOs but also NTOs and NCMs, I am excited about the prospect of helping to develop both the competence and character of all of our students, staff and instructors,” Cdr Stefanson said.

Leadership and outreach programs currently administered by Naval Fleet School (Pacific) (NFSP) and Naval Training Development Centre (Pacific) (NTDCP) will be incorporated into HMCS Venture’s structure including:

  • Regular and Reserve Force Decentralized Basic Military Qualification (DBMQ) and Decentralized Basic Military Officer Training (DBMOQ) as assigned from Military Personnel Generation (MPG);
  • the Raven Indigenous Summer Employment Program, along with other outreach programs;
  • command-level leadership and professional development training for prospective RCN unit command teams;
  • an RCN Navigation Centre of Excellence for the provision of advice to RCN boards, working groups, and offices of primary interest (OPI), as well as the conduct of collective training and team training for both Canada Fleet Pacific and Canada Fleet Atlantic;
  • professional leadership development and leadership training not already part of career course curriculae;
  • Second Language Training within Maritime Forces Pacific (MARPAC); and
  • culture change initiatives.

HMCS Venture’s establishment will provide the RCN with a dedicated institution for the development and delivery of leadership instruction similar to that provided by the Canadian Army or Royal Canadian Air Force and will help the RCN deliver on institutional culture change objectives put forth by the Chief Professional Conduct and Culture (CPCC).

Cdr Stefanson will be supported at HMCS Venture by Lieutenant-Commander (LCdr) Meghan Lobb in the role of Executive Officer, and Chief Petty Officer First Class (CPO1) Steve Wist as unit Coxswain.

HMCS Venture is being created as part of NPTG’s overall realignment initiative. Working Groups comprised of relevant offices of primary interest and corporate experts have been busy identifying and synchronizing the steps necessary to stand this unit up while maximizing existing human and financial resource allocations, as well as utilizing existing infrastructure available to NPTG.

In late April, Rear-Admiral Topshee (now Vice-Admiral Topshee, Commander RCN) signed a Tasking Order which directed the continued evolution and realignment of NPTG’s structure.  The intent was to make the changes necessary to better achieve NPTG’s mission as the RCN’s principal command for the education and training of sailors.

“The approach to realigning NPTG is deliberate and methodical while prioritizing the development and delivery of naval training as part of the RCN’s reconstitution initiatives,” said Captain (Navy) Matthew Coates, Commander of NPTG.

“In practical terms, it means using existing human and budgetary resources more efficiently and to better effect given the anticipated operational realities of today and the coming years with minimal disruption.” 

Part of the realignment is the creation of HMCS Venture while also merging the Naval Training Development Centre (Pacific) (NTDCP) with Naval Fleet School (Pacific) (NFSP). 

At the same ceremony on Friday, Naval Training Development Centre (Pacific) was officially stood down.

Lessons learned from the Pacific merger of NTDC(P) with NFS(P) will be analyzed before embarking on envisioned changes to Naval Training Development Centre (Atlantic) and Naval Fleet School (Atlantic) next summer. Naval Fleet Schools Pacific, Atlantic and Québec, along with HMCS Venture, remain under the command of NPTG.

Responsibility for operational personnel management functions currently under NPTG’s command (namely the three Personnel Coordination Centres – Pacific, Atlantic and Québec – and Naval Personnel Management (NPM)) will be transferred to the authority of the Director General Naval Strategic Readiness (DGNSR). This adjustment to reporting relationships better reflects the way business is actually conducted while also helping to streamline the operational personnel management system overall.  Discussions are currently underway to refine timelines but the devolution of PCCs to DGNSR is expected to be complete this summer with minimal disruption in the day-to-day function of the PCCs.

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