Rear-Admiral Baines takes Halifax command

RAdm Craig Baines, LGen Steve Bowes, VAdm Ron Lloyd, and RAdm John Newton sign the MARLANT Change of Command certificates during the ceremony Sept. 1. Photo by Mona Ghiz, MARLANT PA

RAdm Craig Baines, LGen Steve Bowes, VAdm Ron Lloyd, and RAdm John Newton sign the MARLANT Change of Command certificates during the ceremony Sept. 1. Photo by Mona Ghiz, MARLANT PA

Ryan Melanson, Trident Staff ~

Sing-a-longs, props, a few tears and lots of laughter were all part of the Sept. 1 Maritime Forces Atlantic (MARLANT) and Joint Task Forces Atlantic Change of Command Ceremony that saw Rear-Admiral Craig Baines take over from Rear-Admiral John Newton, the man who served as his boss for many years.

VAdm Ron Lloyd, Commander Royal Canadian Navy (RCN), serving and retired colleagues, family, friends, and members of the wider Halifax community were present to hear RAdm Newton highlight his time in command.

“I wanted us to learn and undertake international relationships we’ve never tried before, to step outside the comfort zone of key enabling allies and push a statement through new partners. If it was hard, or impossible, I wanted to try,” he said.

He had many thanks for people, units, and organizations who supported him and the Formation since 2013. Wielding an oversized wrench for effect, he gave a shout out to civilian engineers and other staff at Fleet Maintenance Facility Cape Scott, and instructed the Stadacona Band to play a rendition of Taking Care of Business in honour of the workforce. The band later led a sing-a-long of Heave Away at the Admiral’s request, and also had a surprise performance of the newly-composed RAdm Newton March.

He was never shy about his love for the Arctic, and mentioned advancing navy operations in Canada’s North as one of the proudest achievements through his command, one that connected with his personal passions for the Northern land and the communities of largely Indigenous Canadians who populate them.

“One of the best ways we can show substantive progress on inclusivity and diversity is by ensuring sailors, soldiers, and airmen and airwomen are sent forth regularly to the coastal and aboriginal communities across the breadth of the north,” he said. “Contact between service personnel and Aboriginal communities is essential in demonstrating that the Canadian Armed Forces serves all Canadians.”

MARLANT also made large strides in connecting with local Indigenous communities and potential Indigenous recruits in the last four years, and HCol Donald Julien, a CAF veteran and member of the Mi’kmaw Grand Council, was on hand to recognize RAdm Newton for that work. He presented a framed ceremonial Eagle Feather, an acknowledgement of ‘love, appreciation, and respect,’ for the Admiral’s work supporting Canadian Armed Forces Aboriginal programs, for visiting local community events and powwows, and for generally strengthening MARLANT’s relationship with Indigenous people in Nova Scotia.

“There is no higher honour than to receive an Eagle Feather from a Mi’kmaw elder and member of the Mi’kmaw grand council,” HCol Julien said.

RAdm Newton also received kind words from his successor, as RAdm Baines thanked him for the vision, energy and creativity he brought to the job. Because the two worked so closely together during what the incoming Commander described as a three-year job shadow (RAdm Baine was Commander Canadian Fleet Atlantic), the formation can expect much of the same strong leadership it’s used to, he said.

“You won’t see a lot of differences. One of the best things about working with RAdm Newton over the last three years is that he and I are completely in sync and aligned as to the direction the East Coast fleet should be moving in and how we conduct our operations.”

RAdm Baines said he was excited above all else to be stepping into the role, with HMCS Harry DeWolf and other new ships on the way, and after working with base staff and sailing with the fleet extensively as CCFL, he said he has nothing but confidence in the formation he’s now been tasked to lead.

“When I arrived here for the first time in 1989 as a Sub-Lieutenant, I could never have imagined I’d be standing here in this position,” he said. “I’m humbled and it’s an absolute honour.”

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