Halifax, N.S. – Through Canada’s defence policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged, our government has committed to providing the women and men of our Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) with ice-capable ships that are well suited to enforce our sovereignty in Canada’s Arctic waters.
Today, the RCN celebrated the official naming of the Harry DeWolf, the first ship built under the Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship (AOPS) project, during a ceremony at Irving Shipbuilding’s Halifax Shipyard. The Harry DeWolf-class will bolster the RCN’s presence in the Arctic and its ability to operate globally with a renewed focus on surveillance and patrol of our maritime borders.
The future HMCS Harry DeWolf was named by its Sponsor, Madame Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, during a ceremony attended by Defence Minister Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility Carla Qualtrough, President of the Treasury Board Scott Brison, Vice-Admiral Ron Lloyd, Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy, members of the DeWolf family, the ship’s company and thousands of Halifax Shipyard shipbuilders. As part of the event, Madame Grégoire Trudeau broke a bottle of Nova Scotia Traditional Method Sparkling Wine against the ship’s bow, and participating in Navy Tradition declared: “I name you Harry DeWolf. Bénit soit ce navire ainsi que tous les hommes et femmes naviguant à son bord.”
The Harry DeWolf is named in honour of wartime Canadian naval hero Vice-Admiral Harry DeWolf.
“I am excited to serve as the sponsor and for the honour of officially naming Harry DeWolf after such an incredible Canadian. 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.”
— Madame Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, sponsor of the future HMCS Harry DeWolf
“Our government is delivering on our commitment in our defence policy Strong, Secure, Engaged to provide our Royal Canadian Navy with the the capabilities it needs to serve Canadians. Today’s naming ceremony marks another successful milestone for Canadian shipbuilding. The new Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships will provide our dedicated sailors with equipment that enhances their ability to safeguard our national interests and keep Canadians strong at home and engaged in the world.”
— The Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence
“The National Shipbuilding Strategy is a long-term commitment to rebuild Canada’s marine industry and provide the members of our Royal Canadian Navy with the vessels it needs to do its work protecting Canadians. Today, we are celebrating the significant progress that we have made on that commitment with the naming of this first Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship.”
— The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility
“Today is an outstanding day for Nova Scotia workers and their families, the Halifax Shipyard and the Royal Canadian Navy. Our government recognizes the ocean of opportunity that lies at our shores, and the importance of investing in the people, the equipment, the infrastructure and the institutions to make the most of those opportunities.”
— The Honourable Scott Brison, President of the Treasury Board
“Vice-Admiral DeWolf is a fitting namesake for this new class. Renowned for his bold vision, leadership and fighting spirit, he sailed HMCS Haida – now flagship of the Royal Canadian Navy – on a series of Arctic convoys during the Second World War. The Harry DeWolf-class will be an incredible capability for our Navy that builds on this legacy of excellence. Our presence in Canada’s North will be extended, and our ability to support a breadth of global operations will be enhanced. Today is an exciting day that brings us one step closer to tomorrow’s future fleet.”
— Vice-Admiral Ron Lloyd, Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy
Vice-Admiral Harry DeWolf was born in Bedford, Nova Scotia in 1903 and joined the Royal Canadian Navy as a cadet in 1918 to attend the Royal Naval College of Canada in Esquimalt, British Columbia. From 1921 until 1925, he conducted his training with the Royal Navy on the battleship Her Majesty’s Ship (HMS) Resolution followed by training courses with the Royal Navy, as well as service at sea with the Royal Navy and the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN). In 1928, he specialized in navigation, attending the Long Navigation Course at HMS Dryad in England, followed by further seagoing and staff appointments with both the Royal Navy and the RCN.
In 1939, then Lieutenant Commander DeWolf assumed command of the destroyer Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) St. Laurent and participated in Atlantic convoy escort duties, as well as the evacuation of troops from France in 1940. He was Mentioned in Dispatches twice (a national honour for distinguished service) for his leadership in command.
In 1943, Commander DeWolf assumed command of the Tribal-class destroyer HMCS Haida, a ship that would come to define his legacy as a warrior. Haida was known as the “Fightingest Ship in the Royal Canadian Navy.” During his 14-month tenure as commanding officer, Haida played a role in the destruction of more than a dozen enemy vessels, including three destroyers and a submarine. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) for gallantry, the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) for courage and skill in action against German destroyers, and two more Mentions in Dispatches for bravery, courage and determination.
A consummate leader both ashore and afloat, his exceptional wartime service was recognized with an appointment as a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE), and an Officer of both the United States Armed Forces Legion of Merit and the French Legion of Honour. He also received the French Croix de Guerre and the King Haakon VII Liberty Cross from Norway.
Following the war, he continued to excel, commanding the light aircraft carriers HMCS Warrior and HMCS Magnificent. In 1948, he was promoted to Rear-Admiral and in 1952, he was appointed Principal Military Adviser to the Canadian Ambassador to the United States and Chairman Canadian Joint Staff in Washington, D.C. In 1956, upon promotion to the rank of Vice-Admiral, he was appointed Chief of the Naval Staff where he served until his retirement in 1960.
Vice-Admiral DeWolf passed away in Ottawa on December 18, 2000 and his ashes were scattered at sea from HMCS Ville de Québec in 2001.
On September 18, 2014, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the name of the first of the Royal Canadian Navy’s (RCN) Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ships (AOPS) in Hamilton, Ontario.
Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Harry DeWolf is named in honour of a wartime Canadian naval hero. HMCS Harry DeWolf is the first of the AOPS designed to better enable the RCN to exercise sovereignty in Canadian waters, including in the Arctic.
The AOPS will be known as the Harry DeWolf Class, with HMCS Harry DeWolf as the lead ship. Subsequent ships in the class will be named to honour other prominent Canadian naval heroes who served their country with the highest distinction. This is the first time in its 104-year history that the RCN is naming a class of ships after a prominent Canadian naval figure.
A native of Bedford, Nova Scotia, Vice-Admiral Harry DeWolf (RCN) was decorated for outstanding service throughout his naval career, which included wartime command of HMCS St. Laurent from 1939-40, and later, his 1943-44 command of HMCS Haida, known as the “Fightingest Ship in the RCN.” The announcement was made at HMCS Haida, which now serves as a museum ship on the Hamilton waterfront.
Canada defends more coastline than any other country, as it is bounded by three oceans. The AOPS will conduct sovereignty and surveillance operations in Canadian waters on all three coasts, including in the Arctic. The AOPS will also be used to support other units of the Canadian Armed Forces in the conduct of maritime-related operations and to support other government departments in carrying out their mandates, as required.
HMCS Harry DeWolf is now under construction by Irving Shipbuilding Inc. in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Source: National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces