HALIFAX -- A Maritimer has been tapped as Canada's new chief of the defence staff.

Vice-Admiral Art McDonald was born in New Waterford, N.S. His naval career has taken him around the world and to the Canadian high north on missions. He is currently the commander of the Royal Canadian Navy.

He will be promoted to the rank of admiral and will take on his new post with the retirement of Gen. Jonathan Vance.

The prime minister says Admiral McDonald's first priority is to lead the fight against COVID-19.

"In his new role as Chief, Vice-Admiral McDonald will oversee the work of the Canadian Armed Forces, including on vaccine rollout through Operation VECTOR," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said. "The Canadian Armed Forces have been part of the national response to this pandemic since the spring, whether deployed to long-term care homes or helping with contact tracing."

The prime minister also offered his thanks to Gen. Vance for his service as the longest serving chief of defence staff.