Two milestones completed during HMCS Harry DeWolf deployment

HMCS Harry DeWolf recently became the first Royal Canadian Navy ship since 1954 to successfully traverse the Northwest Passage.

Two milestones completed during HMCS Harry DeWolf’s historic circumnavigation deployment

By Lt(N) Lisa Tubb,
HMCS Harry DeWolf

Canada’s first Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship just ticked off two major milestones.

As of Sept.12, HMCS Harry DeWolf has completed its first operational deployment, Operation NANOOK 2021, and was the first in its class to sail through northern waters.

A member of the ship works on one of Harry DeWolf’s 25mm machine guns during their recent Op NANOOK deployment.

Op NANOOK is Canada’s signature northern operation that has a series of comprehensive activities designed to exercise the defence of Canada and secure our northern regions.

For Harry DeWolf, it was no ordinary deployment, as this voyage presented an opportunity for the crew to experience an element of Canadiana. Ship and crew charted their northern course via a historic route born from a tragic beginning. For the first time since HMCS Labrador’s northern voyage in 1954, a Royal Canadian Navy ship sailed westward through the Davis Strait to the Beaufort Sea, and successfully traversed a path through the fabled Northwest Passage. It is the same route taken by the infamous 1945-46 Franklin Expedition, which was lost with all hands in the same area.

“Having the opportunity to sail the same route the ill-fated Franklin Expedition did some 76 years ago is like having a classroom at your doorstep,” says Commander Corey Gleason, Harry DeWolf Commanding Officer. “Honing our skills as mariners during Op NANOOK, and also being exposed to history and the beauty and culture of the Arctic, it has been a great experience for all on board.”

Operation NANOOK

Throughout the operation, Harry DeWolf demonstrated the ability of both its crew and the Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship to operate in northern waters. Alongside HMCS Goose Bay and ships from the Canadian Coast Guard and the United States Coast Guard, Harry DeWolf participated in exercises that simulated responses to a major maritime incident.

Ship’s crew also gained invaluable knowledge from training and working alongside four RCMP personnel and one United States Navy member embarked for the operation. Understanding how domestic and international partners operate in the challenging Arctic environment will only add to the capacity to deploy and operate in the region.

“The Arctic is an incredibly beautiful yet unforgiving place,” says Lt(N) Tania Noel-Giroux. “Getting the chance to work alongside our American and RCMP colleagues in this setting has been incredible.”

The strongest links forged were between Harry DeWolf crewmembers and citizens of local communities visited along the route, which included Pond Inlet, Grise Fjord, Arctic Bay, Cambridge Bay, and Kugluktuk, Nunavut. Sailors were humbled and proud to introduce the first-in-class Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship to its affiliated communities within the Qikiqtani region of Nunavut. They hosted community barbecues and listened intently to locals’ stories about their culture and way of life, and welcomed community members, leaders, and elders aboard for tours. Cdr Gleason often invited visitors to sit in his captain’s chair.

“This is your ship,” he said to them. “Whenever you see the number 430 come into your community, know that we are here for you.”

Operation NANOOK 2021 ran from Aug. 3 to Sept. 12, which marked the beginning of Harry DeWolf’s ongoing deployment – the circumnavigation of North America.

Next up for the ship is a short stopover in Esquimalt in October before Harry DeWolf sets sail for Operation CARIBBE.