Newest Canadian Coast Guard ship named for fallen soldier
Vessel named after Cpl. Mark McLaren will patrol Atlantic coast
The country's newest Canadian Coast Guard vessel was named and dedicated after a soldier who was killed in Afghanistan at a dockside ceremony in Dartmouth on Monday.
The 43-metre CCGS Corporal McLaren M.M.V. is named for Cpl. Mark McLaren — a Canadian soldier from Peterborough, Ont., who was killed in 2008 by a roadside bomb near Kandahar.
"The most important thing is that people are never going to forget my brother," Miles McLaren said shortly after the ceremony.
"We're not going to forget him, but this etches him in history. He gets to continue — or at least his memory gets to continue — serving our country, which is wonderful."
With top military brass looking on, McLaren's mother Annie christened the vessel, calling on "good fortune to all who sail on it" before releasing a wine bottle that smashed against the ship's bow.
Horns blew simultaneously on several other Canadian Coast Guard ships tied up at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography.
The vessel bearing McLaren's name is one of nine so-called hero-class ships being built for the Canadian Coast Guard. All are named after soldiers, RCMP officers, Coast Guard or Fisheries and Oceans officers who displayed exceptional service.
A month before his death, the 23-year-old soldier had rescued an Afghan interpretor injured in a fire fight. For that act, Cpl. McLaren was posthumously awarded a medal of military valour in 2010.
"I don't know what to say. I'm pretty proud of him. He was doing exactly what he wanted to do. He knew why he was doing it," said Alan McLaren, his father.
Several of Mark McLaren's fellow soldiers were on hand Monday as well.
"From the regimental perspective, we feel humbled when we see something like his. Cpl. McLaren was a true hero. He was a selfless guy," said Col. Joseph Shipley of the Royal Canadian Regiment.
Federal Justice Minister Peter MacKay also spoke of McLaren's bravery.
"Quite fittingly this ship, in addition to many duties, is about search and rescue. And Mark McLaren gave his life in service of helping others," MacKay said.
Monday's dedication ceremony paused to pay respect to the three RCMP officers killed last week in Moncton.
The ship was built at the Halifax Shipyard and will be based in Dartmouth. Its primary mission will be as a fisheries patrol vessel on the Atlantic coast.