Future HMCS Max Bernays badge unveiled
By Joanie Veitch,
The unveiling of a ship’s badge is an important step in the timeline of that vessel — for the future HMCS Max Bernays it also marks a milestone in the Arctic Offshore Patrol Ship (AOPS) program.
“This is an occasion to celebrate the first Arctic Offshore Patrol Vessel (AOPV) that will be homeported in Esquimalt, BC,” said Capt (N) Sheldon Gillis, Deputy Commander, Canadian Fleet Atlantic, speaking to the ship’s crew at a ceremony in Halifax on March 30.
“Although you will bring the future HMCS Max Bernays to life here in the Atlantic, you will prove her ready for operations in all of Canada’s oceans and bring Max Bernays to her homeport in British Columbia in 2023.”
Acting Chief Petty Officer Max Bernays was a member of the Royal Canadian Naval Reserve who served as Coxswain of HMCS Assiniboine during the Second World War. On August 6, 1942, during an intense battle with a German submarine, CPO Bernays ordered two junior telegraph officers to clear before taking the helm.
Surrounded by smoke and fire, CPO Bernays single-handedly steered the ship and dispatched orders to the engine room, eventually managing to ram and sink the U-boat — receiving the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal for his courage.
“The name Max Bernays in our Navy is directly associated with the character traits that led the allies to victory at sea… Personal courage, loyalty and integrity, all qualities Max Bernays demonstrated so valiantly under fire from an enemy submarine in 1942,” said Capt (N) Gillis.
While family members of Max Bernays watched as the ceremony was streamed online, a letter written by his granddaughter was shared as part of the ceremony.
“We are a Navy family. Max’s son, Max Bernays Jr, continued the naval tradition and joined at 17,” wrote Shannon Bernays.
“Grandpa always said that the Navy ran in his blood. We know that both of them would have been overjoyed to see the ship and meet her crew. They are undoubtedly watching down filled with pride and excitement… It is our hope that his legacy will serve as an inspiration for years to come. Our family cannot wait to see the ship and visit her crew. It will be a great honour to personally thank them for all they do for Canada.”
Commander Collin Forsberg, Commanding Officer of the future HMCS Max Bernays, thanked the crews of HMCS Harry DeWolf and HMCS Margaret Brooke for sharing their knowledge of the Harry DeWolf-class vessels as the future HMCS Max Bernays crew familiarizes themselves with the ship’s systems and equipment in the lead-up to delivery, expected later this year.
“We’re working on departmental checklists, standard operating procedures and, of course, working on building up our supplies to be ready to sail the ship,” he said.
Prior to the presentation of the badges, CPO1 Tari Lightwood, the ship’s Coxswain, explained the symbolism in the patch design.
Elements include a red ship’s wheel, in homage to the courage CPO Bernays showed in taking the wheel of HMCS Assiniboine while under fire, and a laurel wreath, as the image of a wreath appears in the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal he received, as well as the hat badge he wore as Acting Chief Petty Officer.
The colours have significance also, explained CPO1 Lightwood. The red in the image of the ships represent the flames that surrounded the bridge and wheelhouse, and the white and blue of the laurel wreath are the colours of the ribbon of the medal.
“The white background refers to the Arctic environment in which HMCS Max Bernays will operate,” she said.
The future HMCS Max Bernays — the third in the Harry DeWolf-class — was built and launched by Irving Shipbuilding on October 23, 2021 in Halifax. Delivery of the ship to the Royal Canadian Navy is expected later this year.