HMCS Protecteur changes leadership one last time


Outgoing Commanding Officer, Cdr Julian Elborne, Cmdre Bob Auchterlonie, Commander Canadian Fleet Pacific, and incoming Commanding Officer, LCdr Blair Brown sign the Change of Command certificates.

HMCS Protecteur celebrated the customary turnover Feb. 20 between incoming and outgoing Commanding Officers, as the Auxiliary Oil Replenishment vessel remains alongside in Esquimalt eager for the next chapter in its long and proud history as the supply ship for Canada’s Pacific Naval Fleet.

Cdr Julian Elbourne relinquished command of Protecteur to LCdr Blair Brown in a stoic change of command ceremony; the ship’s rich history and tradition, coupled with the myriad stories of sailors past and present, made this event a special one, if not a chance for reminiscence and a reminder to all present of the ship’s contributions to our country.

The ceremony got underway just before 11 a.m. on the NOTC Venture Drill Deck, with Cmdre Bob Auchterlonie, Commander Canadian Fleet Pacific, presiding, and the Naden Band performing the customary musical accompaniment with aplomb.

A reception followed in the Venture Gunroom, with outgoing Cdr Elbourne receiving tributes from his Junior Ranks, Chiefs and Petty Officers, and Officers in honour of the leadership and character he demonstrated while in Protecteur.

LCdr  Brown, incoming Commanding Officer, will now take the helm in Protecteur, having served as the ship’s Executive Officer since 2014; no stranger to his current position, he assumed command of HMCS Edmonton in 2013 and brings a wealth of experience into this new role.  

Commissioned Aug. 30, 1969, Protecteur served the fleet on both coasts, participating in numerous operations based out of Halifax from the 1970s until 1993, including Standing Naval Force Atlantic (SNFL) in 1973 with HMCS Margaree, and Operation Friction, the multi-national contribution to United Nations’ response to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990-91.

The ship’s mandate shifted to west coast climes in 1993, and it sailed from Esquimalt after a major refit to replace sister ship HMCS Preserver in the Arabian Sea on Operation Apollo in 2002.

The catastrophic engine room fire that crippled Protecteur in late February of last year occurred at the tail end of an otherwise successful MIDPAC Oiler deployment that saw the ship carry out replenishment duties for the United States Navy’s Pacific Fleet off Hawaii.

Prior to the fire, Protecteur proved its capabilities both during Exercise Koa Kai in the waters surrounding the Hawaiian Islands, and at several multi-point replenishments that demonstrated the skill, speed and safety of the RAS teams.

Now, as always, the ship and crew embody their motto “Soutiens Avec Courage”.


SLt Aaron Hawkins
HMCS Protecteur

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