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#CCGInTheFamily: Don and Robb Wight

To celebrate the Canadian Coast Guard’s 60th anniversary, we are reflecting on our rich history throughout the years. For many, working on the water—and more specifically at Canadian Coast Guard—runs in the family. Some have parents, grandparents, siblings, or children who worked at the Coast Guard. Others come from a long line of Coast Guard employees, where being #CCGProud is generational. These are their stories.

Canadian Coast Guard's 60th identifier with slogan, Celebrate the past, navigate the future.

With a combined service in the Coast Guard of over 30 years, Don Wight and son, Robb Wight (current director general of Vessel Procurement), have been heavily involved in managing the procurement of Coast Guard vessels and helicopters. It is fitting, perhaps, that several of the ships delivered or scheduled to be delivered during Robb's tenure, have replaced or will be replacing ships delivered under his father's career in the Coast Guard.

Don Wight, Director General, Vessel Management (retired, February 1997)

Don Wight joined the Coast Guard in 1982 as chief, Technical Division of Fleet Systems in Ottawa. Don's academic background was at the Royal Military College (RMC) with a degree in mechanical engineering at the University of London, England, where he received a master's degree in naval architecture. He served 22 years in the Royal Canadian Navy and his final posting was engineering manager of the Canadian Patrol Frigate Program.

Don, Rob and family standing in front of CCGS Edward Cornwallis vessel in 1986

Don and his family (Robb age 16) at the christening of CCGS Edward Cornwallis in Sorel, Quebec, in 1986.

When the government announced its Special Recovery Capital Projects (SRCP) Program in 1983, Don was appointed project manager for the Coast Guard shipbuilding projects and oversaw the construction of 11 new vessels:

The SRCP also included the mid-life modernizations (MLMs) of CCGS Sir Humphrey Gilbert, CCGS Narwhal, and CCGS Simon Fraser. The budget for the SRCP was $750 million in 1982 dollars.

Outside the SRCP, 4 Type 400 Small Search and Rescue Cutters: Isle Rouge, Point Henry, Point Race, and Cape Hurd (1983 Cape Breton Industrial) and one Type 1200: CCGS Des Groseiliers (1983 Port Weller Drydock) were added to the CCG Fleet.

Don transferred to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) in 1988 to take up the position of director, Ship Branch and then director general, Vessel Management. When the Coast Guard and DFO Fleets merged in 1995, he returned to the Coast Guard as director, Fleet Services. His principal challenge was to oversee the identification and implementation of the “best practices” of each fleet into the integrated fleet under the Coast Guard umbrella.

Don Wight and 2 other colleagues discussing.

"Conferencing" at Halifax Shipyards in 1983 during the Mid-Life Modernization of CCGS Sir Humphrey Gilbert.

Left to right: Eugene Shepherd, on-site deputy project manager and chief engineer designate; John Redican, project manager; and Don Wight.

After 38 years working in the marine field, Don retired in February 1997, on the same day his wife, Pat, retired from her position of senior social worker at the National Defence Medical Centre. They spent their retirement years travelling in their recreational vehicle and at their cottage in Calabogie with friends and family.

Robb Wight, Director General, Vessel Procurement

Robb Wight joined the Coast Guard in 2001 as an engineer in the Integrated Technical Services (ITS) Directorate working on various projects. His academic background was a mechanical engineering degree from Waterloo University and an MBA from Sir Wilfred Laurier. Before joining the Coast Guard, Robb worked with a number of start-up companies in Ottawa.

Robb worked his way up to director general of ITS in 2008, and in 2012 assumed the position of director general of Vessel Procurement, the directorate of the Coast Guard responsible for the acquisition and delivery of large vessels, helicopters, and small vessels, as well as the development of new classes of vessels, vessel design, business analysis and policy support. His office in Ottawa oversees, not only NCR employees, but also the on-site team located in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Robb Wight and colleagues, dressed in uniform, standing in front of the CCGS John Franklin

The launch of the CCGS John Franklin in 2018. Robb Wight is pictured on the far right.

Since 2012, the Vessel Procurement Team has delivered:

Ongoing projects include:

These and others are scheduled to be delivered from now into the 2040s.

During family get-togethers, Robb and Don are often heard discussing various government procurement programs and strategies. “Not all family members consider us ideal dinner companions,” they shared jokingly.

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