Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, right, releases a bottle of Nova Scotia sparkling wine with James DeWolf, son of the late Harry DeWolf, as his wife Michelle DeWolf, left, and Cmdr. Corey Gleeson look on at the naming ceremony for Canada's lead Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship, the future HMCS Harry DeWolf, in Halifax on Friday, Oct. 5, 2018. (Andrew Vaughan/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Royal Canadian Navy celebrates official naming of its future Arctic patrol ship

The Royal Canadian Navy’s first Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship (AOPS) was officially baptized Friday in a centuries-old naming ceremony attended by dignitaries and hundreds of shipbuildres at Irving Shipbuilding’s Halifax Shipyard in Nova Scotia.

“I name you Harry DeWolf. Bénit soit ce navire ainsi que tous les hommes et femmes naviguant à son bord, (Blessed be this ship as well as all men and women sailing on it),” declared the ship’s sponsor Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, Canada’s first lady, as she smashed a bottle of Nova Scotia Traditional Method Sparkling Wine against the ship’s bow.

The ceremony marked the first time in the RCN’s 108-year history that it is naming a class of ships after a prominent Canadian Navy figure.

The future HMCS Harry DeWolf and its five sister Harry DeWolf-class ships are named in honour of wartime Canadian naval hero Vice-Admiral Harry DeWolf, whose family was also present at the naming ceremony along with cabinet ministers and the commander of the Royal Canadian Navy.

“I am excited to serve as the sponsor and for the honour of officially naming Harry DeWolf after such an incredible Canadian,” Grégoire Trudeau said in a statement. “I look forward to connecting with the ship’s company and their families and to continuing to hear about their triumphs as they embark upon this new chapter in our Navy’s proud history.”

Artist’s impression of the Harry Dewolf-Class Arctic/Offshore Patrol Vessel (Royal Canadian Navy)

Construction of the 103-metre, 6,615-tonne ship began at Halifax Shipyard in September 2015. It was launched on Sept. 15, 2018. Sea trials will begin in 2019.

Construction of the future HMCS Margaret Brooke and Max Bernays, is well underway at Halifax Shipyard, with construction of the future HMCS William Hall, to start in the coming months, officials said.

The ice-capable Harry DeWolf-class ships are not expected to be “complex combatant” ships, they will be armed and equipped for a constabulary role in support of various government departments.

They will mostly be responsible for surveillance in the Arctic, as well as Atlantic and Pacific oceans, providing the navy situational awareness, and cooperating with other agencies to enforce Canadian sovereignty in the rapidly changing Arctic.

In terms of their offensive and ice capabilities, they are a far cry from an armed icebreaker, but will at the same time have more maneuverability and flexibility.

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