Royal Canadian Navy welcomes new Commander

News release

January 12, 2021 – Ottawa – National Defence/Canadian Armed Forces

Vice-Admiral Craig Baines assumed the duties of Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy (CRCN) from Vice-Admiral Art McDonald this afternoon in a virtual change of command ceremony presided over by General Jonathan Vance, Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS), at the National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa.

Vice-Admiral Baines assumes Command as the 37th CRCN. He has served in a variety of command and staff roles throughout his career, most recently serving as Deputy Vice CDS.

The outgoing CRCN, Vice-Admiral McDonald, will be promoted to the rank of Admiral and will succeed General Vance as the 20th CDS.


“I welcome Vice-Admiral Craig Baines as the 37th Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy (CRCN). He will provide very able leadership to our sailors through these challenging times and into the future. Vice-Admiral Baines has proudly served Canada for 33 years in our Royal Canadian Navy, in various roles as the Commander of a vessel, a Base, and a Fleet, which have all prepared him for this important role, as have his recent efforts as the Deputy Vice Chief of the Defence Staff. The women and men of the Royal Canadian Navy are indeed in good hands with Vice-Admiral Baines in command.”

The Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence 

“Change of command ceremonies represent both continuity and change, and it’s a tremendous pleasure to mark the change of command of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) between two great sailors: Vice-Admiral Art McDonald and Vice-Admiral Craig Baines. Under Vice-Admiral McDonald’s leadership, we have seen the RCN maintain an impressive operational tempo at home and abroad. His focus on people and innovation have positioned the Navy for success as it transitions to the future fleet.

“Through his 33 years of service, Vice-Admiral Baines has a proven operational and institutional track record from which to draw upon as he continues to put Canada’s sailors first in all that he does. I am delighted to appoint Vice-Admiral Baines to command the Royal Canadian Navy and I know that he will lead by example, put our ethos into practice, and continue to steer the Navy towards the objectives of the future fleet.” 

General Jonathan Vance, Chief of the Defence Staff

“It has been an honour and privilege to lead as the Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy (CRCN) for the past 18-months. As a One Navy Team, we have successfully accomplished our mission objectives and have followed through the progression of key projects and initiatives while continually remaining focussed on the priority that WE in the RCN, on this Watch, have placed on culture change! The RCN is equally known for who we are and how we conduct ourselves as much as for the amazing things we do. I am confident that the RCN will continue to sail smoothly under the watch of Vice-Admiral Baines.”

Vice-Admiral Art McDonald, Outgoing Commander Royal Canadian Navy

“As I assume Command from Vice-Admiral McDonald, I would like to recognize the significant leadership that my shipmate has provided to the Royal Canadian Navy throughout his command. It goes without saying what an honour and privilege it is to become the 37th Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy. Without question, the biggest part of this honour, is continuing to serve with a group of outstanding Canadians who wear a uniform on behalf of their country, often serving in a complex environment far from home. We will continue to prioritize support to our Sailors, Defence Team members and their Families while managing ongoing cultural change, domestic and international operations, fleet recapitalization, training and readiness, all while innovating throughout our organization to make us the most inclusive, respect- driven Navy we can be. We remain committed to be READY to help, READY to lead, and READY to fight for Canadians.”

Vice-Admiral Craig Baines, Incoming Commander Royal Canadian Navy

Quick facts

  • Vice-Admiral Baines’ career in the Royal Canadian Navy has been a combination of sea-going appointments and staff officer positions throughout his 33 years of service. He started his career as bridge watch-keeping officer in Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Saguenay, specializing in navigation and naval warfare en route to an appointment as Commanding Officer of HMCS Winnipeg in 2007. He held the appointment of Base Commander of Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt between July 2010 and July 2012. After serving as the Commander of Canadian Fleet Atlantic between 2014 and 2017, he was appointed Commander Maritime Forces Atlantic and Joint Task Force Atlantic until he assumed the position of Deputy Vice Chief of the Defence Staff in July 2020.

  • The Royal Canadian Navy is Canada’s naval force consisting of approximately 8,300 Regular Force and 3,600 Reserve sailors, supported by approximately 3,800 civilian employees.

  • The mission of the Royal Canadian Navy is to generate combat-capable, multipurpose maritime forces that support Canada’s efforts to participate in security operations anywhere in the world, as part of an integrated Canadian Armed Forces.

  • The Royal Canadian Navy fleet, divided between the Atlantic (Halifax, N.S.) and Pacific (Esquimalt, B.C.) coasts, is composed of 28 warships, submarines, and coastal defence vessels, plus many more auxiliary and support vessels.

  • True to its motto “Ready, Aye, Ready”, the sailors of the Royal Canadian Navy stand always ready to defend Canada and proudly safeguard its interests and values whether at home or abroad.

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