Navy replaces frigate commanders months before Pacific deployment

Navy replaces frigate commanders months before Pacific deployment

OTTAWA — The Royal Canadian Navy has replaced the commander of one its frigates as well as his second-in-command months before the warship begins a tour of the Asia-Pacific region that includes patrolling around North Korea.

The navy says the reasons for removing both Cmdr. Jonathan Kouwenberg as commanding officer of HMCS Calgary and Lt.-Cmdr. John Forbes as his executive officer within a week are unrelated.

Not only are the two moves highly unusual, they come at a critical time for the crew as it prepares to deploy to a part of the world where tensions are on the rise.

The navy says Kouwenberg was replaced on Jan. 20 after it was determined that despite months of training, the Calgary’s crew was not prepared for its April departure.

Kouwenberg has been replaced by Cmdr. Alex Barlow, who only recently returned from a similar mission in the Pacific as commanding officer of another frigate, HMCS Ottawa.

As for Forbes, he was fined $3,000, reprimanded and relieved as executive officer after being found guilty earlier this month of having turned off a smoke detector in the ship’s wardroom in December before smoking and encouraging his subordinates to do the same.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 31, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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