Living life to the “Max”

SMembers of HMCS Max Bernays wave from the ship during their recent transit through the Panama Canal. CPL WILLIAM GOSSE

Living life to the “Max

By Peter Mallet,
The Lookout

His Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Max Bernays, the first Arctic and Offshore Patrol Vessel (AOPV) to call the West Coast ‘home’, is on a historic journey. The ship’s arrival in Esquimalt mid-April will mark the first commissioning of a Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) vessel on the West Coast in several decades.

Max is headed home with a crew of more than 85 sailors, above its standard capacity of 65. Lieutenant-Commander (LCdr) Clayton Erickson, the ship’s Executive Officer, says this ensures proper knowledge transfer from the ship’s East Coast-based crew.

“A large percentage of our West Coast-based crew are fully established with Max, with the remainder joining us upon arrival,” Erickson said. “We will bid farewell to our East Coast team not long after arrival in Esquimalt.”

LCdr Erickson says he and his crew are loving life aboard the AOPV, which is proving to be a great platform to live and work on.

Max began the four-and-a-half-week transit from CFB Halifax on Mar. 11. The journey takes it through the Panama Canal where it will travel to Esquimalt, stopping at ports along the way.

Getting Max ready for its sail was no small task. The ship’s company, Maritime Forces Atlantic shore units, and private sector contractors spent the fall and winter months getting Max ready for its coastal transfer. This included a series of short work periods and two main at-sea programs in December and January.

LCdr Erickson says he and his crew are brimming with pride about delivering the Harry DeWolf-class vessel to the Pacific Fleet.

Max is comprised of an incredibly talented and motivated group of sailors,” LCdr Erickson said. “It is important to show as many Canadians as possible who we are and what we do to support Canada.”

The AOPV will be in Vancouver on May 3 to participate in Fleet Week and conduct its commissioning ceremony. It will participate in Task Group Exercise (TGEX) 24 in the Strait of Juan de Fuca with Halifax-class frigates HMCS Vancouver and HMCS Regina, and Kingston-Class Maritime Coastal Defence Vessels HMCS Edmonton and Yellowknife.

Afterwards, Max will return to Esquimalt for a vital work period in preparation for a busy summer program, including participation in Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2024 exercises off Hawaii. The ship will then patrol the Western High Arctic North as part of Operation Nanook-Nunakput 2024.

The vessel is not the first AOPV to come alongside in Esquimalt. In October 2021, HMCS Harry DeWolf became the first RCN vessel in more than 50 years to complete a transit through the Northwest Passage. It then arrived for port visits in Vancouver and Victoria before making the transit back to Halifax via the Panama Canal.