Thunder Bay

HMCS Griffon commander stepping down

Thunder Bay's HMCS Griffon naval reserve unit will soon have a new face at the helm.

Robert Cooke to retire in August, change of command ceremony scheduled for fall

Lt. Cmdr. Robert Cooke, commanding officer of Thunder Bay's HMCS Griffon naval reserve unit, is retiring this fall. He is shown wearing his Commander uniform. (CBC News)

Thunder Bay's HMCS Griffon naval reserve unit will soon have a new face at the helm.

Lt. Cmdr. Robert Cooke will retire from the Royal Canadian Navy this fall after nearly 38 years in the military, with about three of those spent as commanding officer of the Griffon.

"I started out in the navy back in 1982 as a .. naval warfare officer," Cooke said in an interview last week at the Griffon. "I did that for about 16 years, and then I flipped over to the army and did another 16-17 years in the army signal corps."

Cooke then transferred from the regular force to the reserves about five years ago, he said, and when he did, he had a choice as to which reserve to join: army or navy.

Change of command in the fall

But Cooke had previous experience with the Griffon; he spent some time there as a staff officer in the 1980s, he said.

"It was within my comfort zone, so I came back to Griffon,' he said. "A little while later, I ended up as commanding officer."

The exact date of Cooke's retirement is still being worked out, but he expects his last day will be in August, with the ceremonial change of command taking place in September or October.

Cooke said he'll be replaced in the position by Lt. Cmdr. Nathaneal Moulson.

"He's a regular force officer, but he'll be transferring to the reserves," Cooke said. "He's a naval warfare officer as well, with a navigation specialty, so he'll be great for the unit."

Cooke said being in charge of a reserve unit brings with it some unique challenges, when compared to similar roles in the regular force.

"Usually, in a regular force naval unit, people [are] posted in, posted out all the time," he said. "In a reserve division, people may have been here for 20 or 30 years, so there are certain things that are a little different that way."

"You have the buildings, and you have the structures, and you have community," Cooke said. "You're involved with the police chief, and the fire chief, and the politicians, and the harbour commissioner."