Vice-Admiral Andrew Laurence Collier: A Life of Service and Devotion

Vam Collier

Vam Collier

Sabina Kukurudziak,  
Communications Officer, 


June 3 marks what would have been the 100th birthday of Vice-Admiral (VAdm) Andrew Laurence Collier. Remembered as a leader, mentor, and devoted partner, VAdm Collier left a lasting mark on those who knew him. His unwavering commitment to the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) and his passion for navigation continues to inspire generations of mariners.

In recognition of his contributions, in December 1997 the RCN named a new facility housing the Navigation and Bridge Simulator as the Vice-Admiral A.L. Collier Building.

“I was invited to give a speech at the grand opening,” recounted Ms. Betty Murphy, VAdm Collier’s widow. “I was so nervous, but I wanted to do it for Andy.”

Murphy gave the inaugural speech and broke a bottle of champagne against the side of the building, officially christening it in her late husband’s honour. The building, located in Esquimalt as a part of HMCS Venture – the RCNs Leadership Centre – is an enduring tribute to VAdm Collier’s dedication to educating and mentoring the next generation of naval officers.

Thinking back on her husband’s approach to life, Murphy noted, “His prime goal was to always do a good job, no matter what it was he was doing”. This philosophy guided VAdm Collier throughout his distinguished career, earning him respect, admiration, and numerous accolades.

From his early days as a Cadet in 1942 to his retirement in 1979, his journey was marked by excellence, bravery, and leadership, all of which are honoured to this day.

Adm Collier 1976

Adm Collier 1976

Andrew Collier was born in Kamloops in 1924, and joined the Royal Canadian Navy as a Cadet during the Second World War. He trained with the Royal Navy (RN) in the United Kingdom from 1942 to 1945, an experience that would fundamentally shape his future. Upon returning to Canada, he served in various ships, including HMCS Stadacona, HMCS Nootka, and HMCS Shearwater (the RCN air station near Dartmouth, N.S.). Specializing in navigation, he took the RN Navigation Qualifying Course at HMS Dryad, located in Hampshire, England, in 1948 and later attended the Navigation Direction Training Centre at HMCS Naden in Esquimalt.

In 1950, Collier was assigned to HMCS Cayuga as the navigating officer during the Korean War. At the time, he was responsible for leading six destroyers up the narrow and heavily mined estuary known as the Daido-ko, ensuring the successful evacuation of Port-Chinnampo. Murphy noted that ‘he was very humble and would never brag,’ but this was one of his proudest moments, one that earned him the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC).

Outside of his professional accomplishments, Vice-Admiral Collier was a devoted husband and friend. Friends and colleagues affectionately referred to him as ‘Big Andy’, a testament to his physical stature as well as his persona. He met Betty in Shilo, Man., where she worked as a nurse. He was stationed as the head of Training Command in Winnipeg but, following their introduction, immediately started making frequent trips to Shilo. He proposed during a visit to Niagara Falls, and they wed in April 1970.

In the following years, Vice-Admiral Collier continued to excel in his profession, ultimately leading to his appointment as Commander of Maritime Command in Halifax, N.S., from 1977 until his retirement in 1979. Upon retirement, the Colliers decided to move to Florida, where they purchased a sailboat and spent the next three years exploring the pristine white sand beaches and turquoise waters of the Bahamas.

“Sailing was one of Andy’s greatest passions, but I had never sailed before,” Murphy recalled, “so, these were some of the most special years, getting to share his passion. Andy was such a patient teacher.”

After retiring from the RCN and returning from their Caribbean adventure, VAdm Collier took on the role of Commissioner of the Canadian Coast Guard in 1980, and later became President of the British Columbia Ferry Corporation from 1984 until his passing in 1987.


The Vice-Admiral A.L. Collier Bldg – 2024

The Vice-Admiral A.L. Collier Bldg – 2024

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