Future HMCS Harry DeWolf given official title at naming ceremony

Image Gallery

Navy News / October 15, 2018

By Ryan Melanson

The Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) has marked another milestone on the way to accepting its first Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships (AOPS), with the future navy ship officially given the title Harry DeWolf during a naming ceremony at Irving Shipbuilding’s Halifax Shipyard on October 5, 2018.

And while there was plenty of excitement from RCN, federal government and industry representatives who gathered for the occasion, the day brought extra emotion for members of the DeWolf family, 13 of them in total, who were also on hand.

“It’s a huge moment for us; an overwhelming moment really,” said Jim DeWolf, son of the late Vice-Admiral Harry DeWolf.

His father was one of the most decorated officers in Canadian naval history, known for being the first to command HMCS Haida, the RCN’s “fightingest ship”, during the Second World War. He received battle honours for his courageous service, including a Distinguished Service Order for rescuing 42 crew members from HMCS Athabaskan after it had been torpedoed in April 1944. He would eventually lead Canada’s navy before his retirement.

When the new ship is accepted into service in 2019 as HMCS Harry DeWolf, it will be the first time an RCN ship is named after a Canadian hero.

“I think he would be so very honoured,” Jim DeWolf said. “And he would be especially proud to see all the Haligonians who are here with us today and who worked so hard to build this ship.”

Hundreds of those workers lined the shipyard to witness the ship’s sponsor Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, wife of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, smash a bottle of Nova Scotia sparkling wine against the bow and officially declare the name of the new vessel to be Harry DeWolf.

Gregoire Trudeau said she was privileged to serve as the ship’s sponsor. The role involves representing the government at official ceremonies, but the sponsor is also meant to bestow good luck on the ship and its crew, and to spiritually guide the ship through its service life. To name the future HMCS Harry Dewolf after such a lauded Canadian naval officer, she added, is an extra bonus.

“We thank the DeWolf family for allowing us to honour their father and the things he stood for and lived for, through this ship. He had a perseverance and a hope for a better country that we all need more of,” Gregoire Trudeau said. “We’ve heard many stories about his strength, his wisdom, his professionalism, his heart, and also his humility. Now this ship with his name is going to provide capabilities that will benefit Canadians and people all around the world.”

Harry DeWolf is the first of up to six AOPS to be delivered by Irving Shipbuilding in Halifax, as part of Canada’s National Shipbuilding Strategy. It was launched in September and sat floating in Halifax Harbour during its naming ceremony, while construction is currently progressing on the future HMC Ships Margaret Brooke and Max Bernays.

The next step for Harry DeWolf will be acceptance and at-sea trials in 2019, followed by commissioning and entry into active service.

The AOPS will provide the RCN with a globally deployable platform that can respond to search and rescue and humanitarian missions anywhere in the world, along with the capability to operate in Arctic waters in sea ice up to one metre thick. The ships will also be compatible with the Royal Canadian Air Force’s new maritime helicopter, the CH-148 Cyclone.

“That means we can extend our naval presence farther north and remain there later into the Arctic season, and we can send a tremendous message of sovereignty,” said Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan.

He was joined at the ceremony by federal colleagues including Public Service and Procurement Canada Minister Carla Qualtrough and Treasury Board President Scott Brison, along with Irving Shipbuilding President Kevin McCoy and CEO James D. Irving.

The ship’s first command team and crew have already been selected and were all present for the naming ceremony, including Commanding Officer Commander Corey Gleason and Cosxswain Chief Petty Officer 1st Class Gerry Doucet.

The unit has been training and preparing for more than a year, and Vice-Admiral Ron Lloyd, Commander RCN, said he’s confident they’ll make Canada proud when they eventually take over Harry DeWolf.

“The ship will be crewed by tremendously talented Canadians who have dedicated themselves to serving our country at sea,” VAdm Lloyd said.

“They’re the luckiest sailors in Canada today, and we look forward to the significant contributions they’ll make to keep Canada strong, secure and engaged, both at home and around the world.”

Article courtesy of Trident