Chief Petty Officer 2nd Class Perry Colley

Sailor Profile / December 2, 2013

Halifax’s Naval Reserve Division HMCS Scotian recently welcomed its first coxswain of African descent, Chief Petty Officer 2nd Class Perry Colley.

“CPO2 Colley is a very accomplished sailor who has a solid reputation in the fleet,” said Lieutenant-Commander Derek Vallis, commanding officer of Scotian. “He was chosen not only because of his achievements in the navy, but his dedication to sailors, connection with community and example as an excellent role model.”

LCdr Vallis explained the coxswain of a ship is in charge of the captain’s personal boat. The coxswain motivates the crew while they row the boat, and the crew looks to the coxswain for support and determination.

“The coxswain must be strong enough to steer the shell, shrewd enough to detect the faults in the crew’s performance and aggressive enough to correct them when necessary,” said LCdr Vallis. “The coxswain must also show understanding and compassion, but know when and why the hammer must be brought down to enforce navy discipline.”

As coxswain of Scotian, CPO2 Colley is the ship’s senior non-commissioned member and part of the command team. He provides the commanding officer with authoritative advice on matters such as conditions of service, morale, discipline, administration and ceremonial procedures.

The appointment is also significant for the African-Nova Scotian community. CPO2 Colley has received a steady stream of congratulatory emails and phone calls since the appointment was announced.

“As a community we celebrate milestones achieved by people of African descent - be it in politics, business, or in my case, the military,” said CPO2 Colley. “It’s becoming more important as we in the community try to teach more about our history in the military.”

Despite a natural tendency toward modesty, CPO2 Colley recognizes the importance of letting people know about his achievement and the many successes and firsts of the African Nova Scotian community. He said role models are key to helping build and motivate communities.

“When we have someone from the African-Nova Scotian community who achieves something like this, it’s very important that we get the word out,” he said. “It's important for everybody to understand there are possibilities and goals that can be reached.”CPO2 Colley is from East Preston and lives in Enfield, N.S. For the past 34 years, with the exception of times when he was deployed at sea, he has served Scotian in a variety of roles, including divisional petty officer, trainer, subject matter expert and regulating petty officer.