Future HMCS Margaret Brooke delivered to RCN

RAdm Brian Santarpia, left, signs documents marking the delivery of the future HMCS Margaret Brooke from Irving Shipbuilding to the Royal Canadian Navy on July 15, as Cdr Nicole Robichaud looks on.

Future HMCS Margaret Brooke delivered to RCN

By Joanie Veitch,
Trident Staff

The second Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship (AOPS), the future HMCS Margaret Brooke, was delivered on July 15 during a ceremony at HMC Dockyard, with Irving Shipbuilding’s Tammy Gray, a registered nurse, signing the official delivery of the ship on the shipyard’s behalf.

Cdr Nicole Robichaud, the Commanding Officer of the future HMCS Margaret Brooke, greets shipbuilders at Irving Shipbuilding’s Halifax facility prior to the ceremony marking the delivery of the ship.

Recognizing Gray for her “unlikely but decisive role” in getting the future HMCS Margaret Brooke to its delivery date, Irving Shipbuilding president Kevin Mooney told the gathering how Gray set up a plan to administer daily COVID tests to the ship’s crew during sea trials in early May — at a time of increasing uneasiness in Nova Scotia due to a dramatic rise in COVID-19 infections in the province.

“In the spirit of Margaret Brooke, Tammy attended to the needs of her friends and colleagues and I am proud that she could be with us today,” Mooney said.

A fitting tribute, given that the ship itself is named for a nurse — Royal Canadian Navy Nursing Sister LCdr Margaret Brooke, who received a Member (Military Division) of the Order of the British Empire for her bravery in trying to save another RCN nurse and other passengers from the steamship ferry SS Caribou that sunk in the Cabot Strait after being torpedoed by a German submarine on October 14, 1942.

Gray, who found out she would be involved in Margaret Brooke’s delivery just a few days before the event, said she was “a little teary-eyed” as she listened to Mooney’s speech during the ceremony, recalling that tense time leading up to the ship’s scheduled sea trials.

“At some point, right before we were to go out, it was clear the crew was nervous because we were in the midst of a COVID outbreak again,” Gray said, in an interview following the ceremony. “I looked at the safety advisor on my team, Emily MacLellan, and said: ‘We’re going to do testing. We’re going to test every single person and test them two to three times. I didn’t realize until the end of it how much safer it made everyone feel. I’m a nurse, that’s just what I do. I feel thankful to have been able to play a role.”

In her remarks at the ceremony, Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, congratulated Cdr Nicole Robichaud, the future Margaret Brooke’s Commanding Officer, and the ship’s company on their work in getting to this milestone event in the ship’s timeline. She also commended the shipyard workers for their perseverance in the face of COVID-19.

Cdr Nicole Robichaud and members of her crew are seen aboard the future HMCS Margaret Brooke after the official delivery from Irving Shipbuilding.

“When the global pandemic threatened the health and safety and wellbeing of so many Canadians, you carried on. You adapted to keep yourselves and your loved ones safe while doing everything possible to ensure our people in uniform have the leading edge equipment they need to do their jobs to the very best of their ability,” she said. “Thanks to you the Royal Canadian Navy will soon have another powerful, modern and agile ship in its fleet. A ship designed to work in some of the most extreme conditions on Earth to carry out a variety of missions, from surveillance and search and rescue to humanitarian aid and disaster relief across the globe.”

Also speaking at the event were Andy Fillmore, Member of Parliament for Halifax, and Rear-Admiral (RAdm) Brian Santarpia, Commander Maritime Forces Atlantic and Joint Task Force Atlantic.

A commissioning ceremony for HMCS Margaret Brooke is tentatively planned for October 2022.