Harry DeWolf naming ceremony

The future HMCS Harry DeWolf was on prominent display during its naming ceremony at Irving Shipbuilding’s Halifax Shipyard.

Future HMCS Harry DeWolf given official title at naming ceremony

By Ryan Melanson,
Trident Staff

The Royal Canadian Navy has marked yet another milestone on the way to accepting its first Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship (AOPS), with the future Navy vessel being officially given the title Harry DeWolf during a naming ceremony at Irving Shipbuilding’s Halifax Shipyard on October 5.

Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, who will be the ship sponsor for the future HMCS Harry DeWolf, prepares to perform the ceremonial smashing of a wine bottle against the ship’s bow.

And while there was plenty of excitement from RCN, federal government and industry representatives who gathered for the occasion, the day brought extra emotion for members of the DeWolf family, 13 of them in total, who were also on hand.

“It’s a huge moment for us, and an overwhelming moment really,” said Jim DeWolf, the son of the late VAdm Harry DeWolf. His father was one of the most decorated officers in Canadian naval history, known for being the first to command HMCS Haida, the RCN’s fightingest ship, during the Second World War. He received battle honours for his courageous service, and would eventually lead Canada’s Navy before his retirement. When the new ship is accepted into service in 2019 as HMCS Harry DeWolf, it will be the first time an RCN ship is named after a Canadian hero.

“I think he would be so very honoured,” Jim DeWolf said

“And he would be especially proud to see all the haligonians who are here with us today and who worked so hard to build this ship.”

Hundreds of those workers lined the shipyard to witness the ship’s sponsor Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, the wife of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, smash a bottle of Nova Scotia sparkling wine against the bow and officially declare the name of the new vessel to be Harry DeWolf.

Gregoire Trudeau said she was privileged to serve as the ship’s sponsor. The role involves representing the government at official ceremonies, but the sponsor is also meant to bestow good luck on the ship and its crew, and to spiritually guide the ship through its service life. To name the future HMCS Harry Dewolf after such a lauded Canadian naval officer, she added, is an extra bonus.

“We thank the DeWolf family for allowing us to honour their father, and the things he stood for and lived for, through this ship. He had a perseverance and a hope for a better country that we all need more of,” Gregoire Trudeau said.

“We’ve heard many stories about his strength, his wisdom, his professionalism, his heart, and also his humility…Now, this ship with his name is going to provide capabilities that will benefit Canadians and people all around the world.”

HMCS Harry DeWolf will be the first of up to six AOPS to be delivered by Irving Shipbuilding in Halifax, as part of Canada’s National Shipbuilding Strategy. The first vessel was launched in September, and sat floating in Halifax Harbour during its naming ceremony, while construction is currently progressing on the future HMC ships Margaret Brooke and Max Bernays. The next step for Harry DeWolf will be acceptance and at-sea trials in 2019, followed by commissioning and entry into active service.

The AOPS will provide the RCN with a globally deployable platform that can respond to search and rescue and humanitarian missions anywhere in the world, along with the capability to operate in Arctic waters in sea ice up to one-metre thick. The ships will also be compatible with the RCAF’s new maritime helicopter, the CH-148 Cyclone.

“That means we can extend our naval presence farther north and remain there later into the Arctic season, and we can send a tremendous message of sovereignty,” said Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan. He was joined at the ceremony by federal colleagues including Public Service and Procurement Canada Minister Carla Qualtrough and Treasury Board President Scott Brison, along with Irving Shipbuilding President Kevin McCoy and CEO James D. Irving.

The ship’s first command team and crew have already been selected, and were all present for the naming ceremony, including Commanding Officer Cdr Corey Gleason and Cosxswain CPO1 Gerry Doucet. The unit has been training and preparing for more than a year, and VAdm Ron Lloyd, Commander RCN, said he’s confident they’ll make Canada proud when they eventually take over Harry DeWolf.

“The ship will be crewed by tremendously talented Canadians who have dedicated themselves to serving our country at sea,” VAdm Lloyd said.

“They’re the luckiest sailors in Canada today, and we look forward to the significant contributions they’ll make to keep Canada strong, secure, and engaged, both at home and around the world.”