Richer for it

13789 Cdr Darren Rich assumes command at Nanoose Bay

Canada’s only underwater testing range has a new commander.

After a remarkable career of more than 37 years in the CAF, the last five of them as the commanding officer of the Canadian Forces Maritime Experimental and Test Ranges (CFMETR) in Nanoose Bay B.C., Cdr Gerry Powell is retiring.

“We have all had to overcome serious challenges in funding and staffing levels over the last several years,” Powell said to an audience of more than 100 as he handed over the reins at a change of command ceremony July 17 at Nanoose Bay. “But what we have accomplished over those years is nothing short of amazing. This facility continues to represent the depth, the strength and the endurance of the alliance between our two great nations.”

His replacement, Cdr Darren Rich, is no stranger to the unique bilateral relationship underpinning CFMETR, which since 1965 has been jointly financed and operated by both the Canadian Forces and the Unites States Navy. Rich is transferring from Colorado Springs, where he served as The Canadian Joint Operation Command’s inaugural liaison officer to US NORTHCOM and NORAD.

“Over the past week Cdr Powell and his team have demonstrated just how complex and intertwined the Canada-U.S. relationship is on these 600-plus acres of paradise,” said Rich to an audience of more than 100. “The full CFMETR team, which comprises a diverse group of people from ADM(Mat), CFB Esquimalt and the US Navy, does truly amazing work here. It’s absolutely vital to the shared defense interests of both our countries.”

Underlining the importance of that relationship, U.S. members of CFMETR’s ‘sister’ base were out in force to observe the ceremony, including the commanding officer of the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, Keyport, Capt David Kohnke, USN. With ties that go back nearly 50 years and an almost constant return flow of personnel and material, the northeast Washington State facility is affectionately known as CFMETR’s ‘sister base’.

Commodore Marcel Hallé, Director General Maritime Equipment Program Management (DGMEPM) presided at the changeover. After acknowledging Powell’s “noteworthy” tenure and “tremendous leadership”, Hallé welcomed the new CO and his wife of 28 years, Valerie.

“Darren, congratulations on assuming command. I look forward to working with you as CFMETR continues to do great things. Under your leadership and the MEPM leadership team, I know the unit remains in good hands.”

As an aside, a few other Ex Cadets are on staff at CFMETR: 12279 – Ian Ferguson, RRMC 79 – Project Officer, Weapons Systems; 13711 – Terry Berkley, RMC 82 – Range Engineer; 13739 – Rick Hearn, RMC 82 – Range Technician; 13796 – Ron Slemko, RMC 82 – Sgt I/C CFMETR Commissionaire Det; and MO191 – Ted Hix, RRMC 82 – Project Officer, Acoustic Systems.


Note from the Editor:

Darren Rich arrived at RMCC in the fall of 2003 and was posted out eight years later. From the start he made a big positive impact not only in and around the college but the entire Kingston & area community, as well.

At the college, he was the Special Assistant to the Commandant (BGens Leclerc & Lacroix) until 2007. Was DDCdts for Col Ouellette and BGen Lawson until summer of 2008 when he became COS for BGen Lawson and Cmdre Truelove until he left in 2011.

Darren officiated with the Kingston District Hockey Referee’s Association and worked intersection and intramural hockey throughout his stay in Kingston.

The former airforce brat (we knew his Dad at Penhold during the 1970s) played Trombone with the C&E Garrison (Vimy) Band for the full period and played in the RMCC Concert and Stage Bands from 2003 – 2007. He occasionally played with the Frontenac Community Band and was a familiar face during summer outdoor concerts downtown Kingston.

The Royal Roads Military College grad (Class of 1982) was the President of the Kingston Flying Club for three of those years and Darren is a a multi-engine instrument-rated commercial pilot,

For those who attended Reunion Weekend, badging parade will be sure to remember the flypast of Hawk One which he did considerable staff-work to make it happen.

Indeed, Nanoose Bay is in good hands.