HMCS William Hall

Petty Officer (PO) William Hall VC

DND

Petty Officer (PO) William Hall VC

The Honourable Julian Fantino, Associate Minister of National Defence, announced on June 26, 2015 that an Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ship (AOPS) will be named in honour of Petty Officer William Hall, a Canadian naval hero, for his actions at the Relief of Lucknow, India on November 16, 1857 during the Indian Rebellion.   Then Able Seaman Hall was serving in the frigate His Majesty’s Ship (HMS) Shannon, when the ship was ordered to Calcutta, British India, as the Rebellion broke out in 1857. A group of gunners, sailors and marines from HMS Shannon were formed together (the Shannon Brigade) and took part in the Relief of Lucknow.

On November 16, 1857, naval guns were brought up close to the mutineers’ fortification. Gun crews kept up a steady fire in an attempt to breach and clear the walls, while a hail of musket balls and grenades from the mutineers caused heavy casualties. Able Seaman Hall and Lieutenant Thomas James Young were eventually the only survivors of the Shannon Brigade, all the rest having been killed or wounded. Between them they loaded and served the last gun, which was fired at less than 20 yards from the fortification’s wall, until it was breached.

On October 28, 1859, Able Seaman Hall was awarded the Victoria Cross for his gallant conduct under fire during the Relief of Lucknow.

“As the first Nova Scotian awarded the Victoria Cross for his gallant conduct during the Relief of Lucknow, Petty Officer Hall is well-deserving of this honour,” said Minister Fantino. “He is a tremendous example of the courage with which our men and women in uniform serve this country. It is with pride that our Government recognizes the service of William Hall and the service of all Canadian Armed Forces personnel.”

Petty Officer Hall is one of a number of prominent black Canadians recognized during Black History Month, a time to celebrate the many achievements and contributions throughout history of black Canadians who have helped make Canada the culturally diverse, compassionate and prosperous nation it is today.

“Petty Officer William Hall is the embodiment of courage and perseverance,” said Vice-Admiral Mark Norman, Commander Royal Canadian Navy. “His actions during the hard fought battle at the Relief of Lucknow have been, and will continue to be, an inspiration for generations of Canadian naval personnel to come. As a Canadian naval hero, it is fitting that an Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ship will carry his name.”

In September 2014 Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that the forthcoming AOPS would be named to honour prominent Canadians who served with the highest distinction and conspicuous gallantry in the navy. The lead ship was named Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Harry DeWolf and the class is known as the Harry DeWolf Class. Other announced ships’ names in the class include HMCS Margaret Brooke, HMCS Max Bernays and, now, HMCS William Hall.

On January 23, 2015 the Government of Canada announced the awarding of the build contract with Irving Shipbuilding Inc. for the construction of six Harry DeWolf-class AOPS as part of the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy (NSPS). This contract, valued at $2.3 billion, marks the start of the construction phase under the NSPS. Construction is set to begin in the fall of this year.

The RCN will employ the AOPS to conduct sovereignty and surveillance operations in Canadian waters on all three coasts, including in the Arctic. The AOPS will also be used to support other units of the Canadian Armed Forces in the conduct of maritime-related operations, and to support other government departments in carrying out their mandates, as required.

The AOPS are key to the Government of Canada’s ability to deliver on three of our guiding strategies – the Canada First Defence Strategy, the Northern Strategy and the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy. The NSPS – the largest procurement sourcing arrangement in Canadian history – is expected to create thousands of high-value jobs in shipbuilding and related industries across the country. The strategy is about undertaking major ship procurements in a smarter, more effective way – a way that sustains Canadian jobs, strengthens the marine sector and provides the best value for Canadian taxpayers.