On Sunday, February 8, PortsToronto CEO Geoffrey Wilson welcomed Commander Jason Armstrong, Commanding Officer Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Toronto
,along with his Lieutenant Commander, Sheldon Gillis, and Chief Petty Officer First Class, Gilles Grégoire, to Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport. The visit to the airport served as the company’s final stop in their namesake tour of Toronto following their ship’s return from a seven-month mission oversees in the Mediterranean and Black Seas. During his visit to Billy Bishop Airport, Commander Armstrong also took the helm of the airport’s Marilyn Bell
ferry, expertly transporting passengers across the Western Gap.
The frigate, which is based out of Halifax, Nova Scotia, was the first Canadian ship to operate in the Black Sea in 22 years and was taking part in a NATO exercise responding to Russia’s military aggression in Ukraine. The ship’s crew of 250 personnel joined more than 5,000 military and naval personnel, as well as 22 warships from 14 NATO nations, in the simulated high-density, high-threat operational scenario.
Prior to their arrival at Billy Bishop Airport, the Commander and his company visited His Worship, John Tory, Mayor of Toronto; The Hospital for Sick Children; Covenant House; Toronto Fire Services; and other locations throughout the city as part of their namesake tour. Patrol frigates in the Royal Canadian Navy are each named after a Canadian city. HMCS Toronto’s dining hall is named after Toronto’s Fairmont Royal York hotel, its decks are lined with Toronto street names, the lounge is called the Air Canada Centre, and even many of the crew members are Toronto Maple Leafs fans.
Namesake city tours afford an opportunity for the Royal Canadian Navy to maintain strong ties between a ship and the city after which it is named, while providing the ship’s company with an opportunity to thank and give back to the local community. The last time members of HMCS Toronto
visited the city was in 2012.