HMCS Max Bernays

Chief Petty Officer (CPO) Max Bernays

DND

Chief Petty Officer (CPO) Max Bernays

The third Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship (AOPS) is named after Chief Petty Officer (CPO) Max Bernays, a Canadian naval hero who served as the Coxswain of His Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Assiniboine during the Second World War’s Battle of the Atlantic.

On August 6, 1942, during intense surface gun action against the German submarine U-210, HMCS Assiniboine maneuvered in and out of a fog attempting to ram and sink the enemy submarine. Both vessels were firing high explosive shells at very close range, resulting in a fire that engulfed the bridge and wheelhouse of Assiniboine. Surrounded by smoke and flames while steering the ship, CPO Bernays ordered two junior sailors to get clear, leaving him alone at the helm and trapped by the blaze. Besieged by flames, he executed all the helm orders as Assiniboine maneuvered for position against the U-boat, and did the work of the two telegraphmen, dispatching over 130 telegraph orders to the engine room. Several bullets and shells penetrated the wheelhouse as the enemy concentrated their machine-gun and cannon fire on the bridge. Eventually Assiniboine rammed and sank U-210 in what was considered to be an extremely hard-fought action, during which the Canadians suffered one fatality and 13 wounded. CPO Bernays was awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal for his courage and dauntless devotion to duty during the battle.

The Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships have been named after Canadian naval heroes who exhibited outstanding leadership and heroism during wartime service in the Navy. Chief Petty Officer Max Bernays’ example of valour and dauntless devotion to duty is a model for all Canadian naval personnel and it is fitting that one of our naval ships is named in his honour.

CPO Bernays was awarded the distinguished Conspicuous Gallantry Medal (CGM) by the British Admiralty for his valour and dauntless devotion to duty during action. He was one of only two members of the RCN to receive the CGM during the Second World War.

In September 2014, the Government of Canada announced that the new AOPS would be named in honour of prominent Canadian heroes who served with the highest distinction and conspicuous gallantry in the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN). The lead ship was named HMCS Harry DeWolf, with the class known as the Harry DeWolf class. The other ships in the class have been named Margaret Brooke, William Hall, Frédérick Rolette and Robert Hampton Gray.

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.

As of summer 2021, the future HMCS Max Bernays is under construction in Irving Shipyard, Halifax.