Vice-Admiral Craig Baines’ Flag Hoist Signal

Navy News / January 12, 2021

As I today assume command from Vice-Admiral McDonald, I would like to recognize the significant leadership that my shipmate has provided to the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) throughout his command and through these unprecedented times. I also want to state what an honour and a privilege it is to become the 37th commander of the Royal Canadian Navy. The greatest part of this honour is continuing to serve with the outstanding Canadians who wear a uniform on behalf of their country and the public servants who support them, often while working in hazardous environments far from home.

In my first message to you, the RCN, I wish to be clear and concise on where I will focus my energies and on my initial priorities. First and foremost, the keystone objective I want to articulate is that of “respect”. Respect for the RCN, respect for yourself, and most importantly, respect for your fellow shipmates. Our strength is in our diversity, and that strength hinges on greater inclusion. If we respect others as we respect ourselves, we will be the best organization we can be.

In support of this keystone objective, and in addition to our ongoing innovation in the areas of data and digitization (the digital vision that will enable everything we do), there are four over-arching areas/themes that will be a continuing priority going forward (known by the shorthand of “S3Charlie”):

a. sailors, public servants, and their families;
b. ships and submarines;
c. service; and
d. culture.

First, our sailors, public servants and families. I will always focus on the work and life experience of our Defence Team and the families that support them. What you do is important and the lifeblood of all of our preparation, readiness and operations; your individual preparedness creates readiness which allows us to manage the systems of systems that make up the RCN. Material capability is imperative, but this requires professionally trained sailors and public servants to provide operational effectiveness as its output. Ensuring you are looked after and heard will ensure a more productive and effective workforce.

Second, our ships and submarines. While continuing with the great work of Vice-Admiral McDonald and the broader RCN and Department of National Defence team, we will generate combat effective units of the current fleet and continue to re-capitalize our world-class navy for the challenges of today and tomorrow. Some of these challenges are known and some will only reveal themselves in time. The development of future capabilities and the corresponding training environment needed to meet these advanced capabilities is pivotal to ensure that the RCN can continue to operate in an uncertain environment against the potential threats and attacks on Canadian interests and values.

Third, our service. I will endeavour to put the service to our navy and to our country ahead of ourselves as we continue to ensure we are Ready to Help, Ready to Lead and Ready to Fight. We are warrior professionals that need to stand ready for whatever awaits us and we must do so by managing our training and people as effectively as possible.

Finally, our culture. As I mentioned at the beginning, in wanting us all to make “respect” our keystone objective, I will focus on the RCN culture and the culture change initiative commenced by my predecessor. We need to move forward together to root out unacceptable behaviours within our ranks, inequalities in our customs and traditions, and unequivocally take action where it is required. We must be the best we can be; the best Canada has to offer. Together we will learn, we will act, and we will be better. Respect for everyone will be our abiding objective, all while maintaining a potent warrior professionalism.

I look forward to working with, and eventually seeing, all of you (virtually or in person), in the days and weeks ahead as we work collectively for the good of the service, the good of the Canadian Armed Forces and ultimately the good of our country.

Vice-Admiral Baines, 37th Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy