New Wing Commander takes charge at 12 Wing Shearwater


****DND Media Release

New Wing Commander takes charge at 12 Wing Shearwater

Colonel Patrick MacNamara assumed command of the Royal Canadian Air Force’s 12 Wing Shearwater from Col. James Hawthorne this afternoon in a change-of-command ceremony presided over by Major-General Eric Kenny, Commander of 1 Canadian Air Division.

Col. MacNamara assumes command after a dynamic career, which includes postings with both of 12 Wing’s operational squadrons (423 Squadron and 443 Squadron) and numerous deployments to sea with the CH-124 Sea King; an operational planning posting with NATO in Europe; and most recently with the Strategic Joint Staff in Ottawa.

Col. Hawthorne will be moving into the position of Royal Canadian Air Force Advisor with the Canadian Defence Liaison Staff at the Canadian High Commission in London, U.K. As Wing Commander, he presided over one of the most challenging periods in 12 Wing’s history, which saw the continued operationalization of the CH-148 Cyclone, and the tragedy of the STALKER-22 accident on April 29, 2020.

This was on top of the day-to-day responsibilities of maintaining training and readiness, operating alongside the Royal Canadian Navy, and working with community partners, all while dealing with the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.


“Having spent most of my career within 12 Wing and the maritime helicopter community, serving as 12 Wing Commander was a tremendous honour and a humbling experience. I could not be more proud of the members of the Wing. We worked together to further the CH-148 Cyclone capability, came together to get through the COVID-19 pandemic, and grieved together in the face of the STALKER-22 tragedy. Colonel MacNamara could not be taking command of a better group of people, and I wish him all the best in his new role.”

Colonel James Hawthorne, former Commander of 12 Wing Shearwater

“It is an honour to be able to welcome Colonel Patrick MacNamara as the new 12 Wing Commander. His extensive time within the Maritime Helicopter community, as well as his experience with NATO and strategic planning, will be a tremendous asset to the Wing, and I’m very much looking forward to working with him. As this new period at 12 Wing begins, I also want to congratulate Colonel Hawthorne on what has been both a successful, but also an extraordinarily trying time as Wing Commander, and wish him luck in his new posting in London.”

Major-General Eric Kenny, Commander of 1 Canadian Air Division and the Canadian NORAD Region, Joint Forces Air Component Commander, and Commander of Search and Rescue Region Trenton

“To say I am honoured to assume command of 12 Wing would be an understatement. Knowing what the members of 12 Wing have accomplished, and been through, in recent years illustrates that this is a tremendously dedicated group. I am looking forward to working with them, as we continue to work with the Royal Canadian Navy as the ‘Wings for the Fleet.’”​

Colonel Patrick MacNamara, Commander of 12 Wing Shearwater

Quick Facts

  • ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​12 Wing is the home to the Royal Canadian Air Force’s maritime helicopter community, with the primary role of providing helicopters to embark on Royal Canadian Navy ships in support of operations.

  • ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​The members of 12 Wing operate the CH-148 Cyclone, a state-of-the-art maritime helicopter that was operationalized in 2018, succeeding the CH-124 Sea King.

  • ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​With a total team of approximately 1,200 people, 12 Wing Shearwater has four squadrons, one of which is based in Patricia Bay, B.C.: 406 Maritime Operational Training Squadron (Shearwater), 423 Maritime Helicopter Squadron (Shearwater), 443 Maritime Helicopter Squadron (Patricia Bay), and 12 Air Maintenance Squadron.

  • ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​Established as a sea base in 1918 prior to the end of the First World War, what is now known as 12 Wing Shearwater later became an air station, and is one of theoldest airfields in Canada, and the second oldest Canadian Forces Base.

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