North

Canada names final ship in its Arctic patrol fleet after WW II navy veteran

Canada announced the name for its sixth and final Arctic military patrol ship — part of a fleet of surveillance ships that will help Canada ramp up its defence in the North.

Latest ship is named after Lt. Robert Hampton Gray

The first Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship, named HMCS Harry DeWolf. Canada announced that it will name its sixth and final Arctic military patrol ship after Lt. Robert Hampton Gray. (Submitted by Royal Canadian Navy)

Canada announced the name for its sixth and final Arctic military patrol ship — part of a fleet of surveillance ships that will help Canada ramp up its defence in the North.

The ships will be armed and provide seaborne surveillance of Canada's waters, including the Arctic and the county's east and west coasts. 

Each ship is named after prominent Canadian naval figures and were built at the Irving shipyard in Halifax. 

The latest ship is named after Lt. Robert Hampton Gray who joined the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve in 1940, and served as a pilot in the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm. According to a federal government news release, Gray was awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously, for his efforts in carrying out air strikes on a Japanese destroyer during the Second World War.

"I think it's a phenomenal recognition of a phenomenal Canadian naval hero in the past," said Rear Admiral Casper Donovan with the Royal Canadian Navy.

The other five ships are named Harry DeWolf, Margaret Brooke, Max Bernays, William Hall and Frédérick Rolette.

Gray joined the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve in 1940, and served as a pilot in the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm. (Submitted by the Royal Canadian Navy)

It's the first time the Canadian navy has named a class of ships after Canadians who served at sea, according to the news release.

Each of the war ships of the Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship project are capable of operating in ice and will also serve other "flexible" purposes including carrying mobile labs — self-contained in shipping containers, along with small land vehicles including snowmobiles and ATVs.

The ships also have medical facilities aboard, which can be used to help with humanitarian crises, like natural disasters in the Caribbean, said Donovan.

"We work 365 days a year, 24/7, making sure we understand what is out in Canada's ocean spaces," Donovan said. "We build basically a picture of what's out there ... and we manage that picture."

Donavan said while none of the ships were named after Indigenous northerners, the company of the latest ship will likely be developing a relationship with the Inuvialuit community.

He said each of the six ships will have "affiliations" with regions in the North.

"We have every intention to come to understand those communities well so we can work in the North in a way that supports, respects and really delivers," he said.

"We are looking at it as a really positive opportunity."

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