Windsor

HMCS Frédérick Rolette name of navy's new Arctic patrol ship

When word of the outbreak of war reached Amherstburg on July 3, 1812, Rolette acted immediately, capturing an American vessel, the Cuyahoga, before the Americans in the Detroit area even became aware that their country had declared war on Britain.
Essex Conservative MP Jeff Watson announced on Thursday that Canada's new Arctic patrol ship is HMCS Frederick Rolette. (Nick Boisvert/CBC)

The Royal Canadian Navy's newest Arctic patrol ship is named HMCS Frédérick Rolette, honouring a War of 1812 hero who was stationed in Amherstburg, Ont.

Essex Conservative MP Jeff Watson made the announcement on behalf of Minister of Defence Jason Kenney on Thursday at HMCS Hunter in Windsor, Ont.

"Lt. Rolette served our country with great distinction throughout the War of 1812. Naming a Royal Canadian Navy ship after him honours the bravery and valour this great French-Canadian exhibited throughout his career," Kenney said in a statement. "The Government of Canada remains committed to recognizing the service and sacrifice of all men and women in uniform, both past and present."

According to a War of 1812 history posted on the Government of Canada's website:

Charles Frédérick Rolette was born in Quebec City in 1783 and joined the Royal Navy as a midshipman while a young teen.

He served under Admiral Nelson at the Battle of the Nile in 1799 and at Trafalgar in 1805.

Just before the outbreak of the War of 1812, Rolette was posted to Amherstburg as a First Lieutenant in charge of the brig General Hunter. When word of the outbreak of War reached Amherstburg on July 3, 1812, Rolette acted immediately, capturing an American vessel, the Cuyahoga, before the Americans in the Detroit area even became aware that their country had declared war on Britain.

The first shots of the War of 1812 were fired in this brief engagement.

Rolette was very active in the war, conducting several daring captures of American supply vessels and participating in land battles at the Capture of Detroit, the Battle of Frenchtown and the skirmish at the Canard River.

He was severely wounded at Frenchtown in January 1813 but was able to return to duty by late summer of that year and commanded the British vessel Lady Prevost at the Battle of Lake Erie on September 10, 1813. The Americans won that battle. Rolette was again gravely wounded and captured when his vessel surrendered to the Americans. He spent the rest of the War as a prisoner-of-war.

When the War ended, Rolette returned to Quebec City but never fully recovered from his wounds, dying in 1831 in his 49th year.

"As the Arctic/offshore patrol ships are being named after Canadian naval heroes who displayed outstanding leadership and heroism while serving in the Navy during wartime, Lt. Rolette is an excellent choice," Vice Admiral Mark Norman said in a statement. "Throughout the War of 1812, Lt. Frédérick Rolette's decisive and daring actions served this country well. His leadership and courage model what it means to be a member of the Canadian Armed Forces."

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