Harry DeWolf CO and crew

The crew of the future HMCS Harry DeWolf together at the ship’s naming ceremony, proudly wearing their unit badge for the first time. Cdr Corey Gleason, the ship’s CO, is at the far right, next to Jim DeWolf, the son of VAdm Harry DeWolf.

Harry DeWolf CO and crew ready for the next step

By Ryan Melanson,
Trident News

While the recent naming ceremony for the future HMCS Harry DeWolf marked a major milestone for the government’s National Shipbuilding Strategy and for the team at Irving Shipbuilding, it was also a special day for the crew of sailors who will eventually take control of the RCN’s first Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship.

The new unit badge for crewmembers of the future HMCS Harry DeWolf.

“We’ve had a lot of milestones along the way so far, but this is a very big one,” said Cdr Corey Gleason, Harry DeWolf’s first Commanding Officer.

“We’re finally in the position where we can start that engagement process of actually being a part of the ship. It still belongs to Irving, but it’s moving closer and closer to us. In less than 10 months, I’ll be taking command of the ship, and these sailors are going to get the opportunity to go on board and put all their training to use.”

That training began more than a year ago, but will ramp up this January. Training will be an experience of its own for the Harry DeWolf engineering team, all 25 of whom will be travelling to the United States and to the UK for contractor-supplied training in high-voltage systems. That’s a significant section of the 65-person crew, and Cdr Gleason said he’s thrilled to see them get the opportunity, and comforted by their ability to represent the unit and the RCN overall when they go outside the country.

“They’re very committed and determined to bring the ship into service to the best of their ability.”

The unit members also started wearing their newly-designed patch on the day of the ship’s naming ceremony. It’s design features a number of elements with significant meaning – a wolf pays homage to VAdm DeWolf’s surname, a sword indicates his status as an officer and represents the warrior spirit, while the shield invokes protection and also displays the traditional insignia of a Vice-Admiral, a Saint George’s Cross with a red disc in the top corner. Finally, the patch’s white background represents the icy waters of the Arctic. Cdr Gleason said the patch on the uniform helps hammer home how close they are to receiving the completed ship and taking HMCS Harry DeWolf to Sea for the first time.

It’s a culmination of nearly a decade of work that began for Cdr Gleason when he started sailing in the Arctic in 2009. He became passionate about the region and studied Arctic operations extensively in the following years. He said he didn’t expect murmurs about a class of Arctic patrol ships to come to fruition before his retirement, but now that it’s a reality, being at the helm of the first vessel is a dream job.

“For me to get command of this ship is huge. I couldn’t ask for a better way to enter the end of my career, by bringing a whole new class of ships online.”