Warfare Analysis Branch Head

Captain (Navy) Rory McLay

Captain(N) Rory McLay was born in London, Ontario in May, 1973. The majority of his formative years were spent growing up north of Kingston, Ontario, in the village of Verona, although he spent some time in both North Bay and London. He attended the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston graduating with a degree in English Literature in 1996, and was commissioned as a Regular Force Naval Officer.


He completed his initial training in 1997 and moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia, to join his first ship, HMCS HALIFAX, as a Bridge Watchkeeping Officer. He was a Watchkeeper aboard HALIFAX during OPERATION PERSISTENCE, the search and rescue and ultimately recovery operation for the Swissair Flight 111 crash off the eastern coast of Nova Scotia. Shortly after, he was attach posted to HMCS ST. JOHN’S to participate in NATO’s Standing Naval Force – Mediterranean, which included conducting United Nations operations off the coast of former Yugoslavia. Upon achieving his professional qualification, he specialized as an Above Water Warfare Officer aboard the frigate HMCS TORONTO and then the destroyer HMCS IROQUOIS.


During the summer of 2001, Captain(N) McLay was selected as the Staff Officer to the Deputy Commander, Striking Fleet Atlantic, a NATO position under the Commander of the US 2nd Fleet in Norfolk, Virginia. After 2 years working with the US and NATO he moved back to Halifax, completing the Operations Room Officer Course in the summer of 2004. From 2004 to 2006 he served as the Operations Officer and then Combat Officer aboard HMCS VANCOUVER stationed in Esquimalt, British Columbia.


Upon completion of his sea tour, Captain(N) McLay was promoted to Lieutenant-Commander and posted to Ottawa, Ontario, to work in the Directorate of Capability Planning under the Chief of Force Development. In the fall of 2007, he conducted training and was subsequently deployed to Kandahar Air Field in Afghanistan in the position of Chief Joint Visits Bureau under the Regional Command (South) Divisional HQ. After a nine month tour, he returned to Ottawa to work in Force Development before being posted to the Canadian Expeditionary Force Command (CEFCOM). While in CEFCOM he divided his time between the J7 International Training Section and as Staff Officer to the Commander, having opportunity to re-visit Afghanistan as well as a number of other overseas operations.


Captain(N) McLay returned to HMCS HALIFAX in the fall of 2011; this time to assume duties as Executive Officer for the first ship to rejoin the fleet as part of the Halifax Class Modernization Project. During this time he also had opportunity to sail with HMCS VILLE DE QUEBEC as Executive Officer on multiple occasions, rounding out his sea-time between the 2 ships participating in both an aggressive trials program and operationally focused exercises.


After his Executive Officer tour, Captain(N) McLay was promoted to Commander and posted back to Ottawa to act as the Operational Requirements Manager for the Canadian Surface Combatant project within the Assistant Deputy Minister (Materiel) group. In 2014, he was selected to be the Commanding Officer of HMCS ST. JOHN’S, a ship that was integral to his formative years as a junior officer. During his tenure between 2014 and 2016, ST. JOHN’S rapidly transitioned from the modernization refit to being mission capable, subsequently resulting in it deploying 6 months ahead of schedule.


Captain(N) McLay returned to Ottawa to become the Director General Strategic Initiatives Coord within the Strategic Joint Staff (SJS). His time in SJS included the creation of the Joint Doctrine Note on Child Soldiers, the first of its kind worldwide and one of the precursors to the creation of the Vancouver Principles. Upon promotion to his current rank, Captain(N) McLay was pleased to be posted to the Canadian Joint Operations Command, combining the ODE (Officer Directing Exercise) for JOINTEX and J7 (Exercises and Training) portfolios to become the Director Joint Readiness. In 2020 he was posted to Halifax as the Chief of Staff Maritime Forces Atlantic / Joint Task Force Atlantic before being selected to join NATO’s Combined Joint Operations from the Sea, Centre of Excellence (CJOS COE) as the Warfare Analysis Branch Head. In his spare time, he enjoys playing many sports and impresses people with his effort, but not his skills.