Royal Canadian Navy’s sixth Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship to be Named HMCS Robert Hampton Gray

The Royal Canadian Navy’s sixth Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship (AOPS) – AOPV 435 – will be named HMCS Robert Hampton Gray in honour of Lieutenant Robert Hampton Gray, a Canadian naval hero of the Second World War.

Lieutenant Robert Hampton Gray joined the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve in 1940, and served as a pilot in the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm. Lt Gray embarked on HMS Formidable with 1841 Squadron, which joined the war in the Pacific as part of Operation ICEBERG in April 1945.

Lt Gray was awarded the Victoria Cross (VC) posthumously, for courage and determination in carrying out daring air strikes on the Japanese destroyer HIJMS Amakusa. On August 9, 1945 he led two flights of Corsair aircraft to attack naval vessels in Onagawa Bay. He opened the attack run flying straight into concentrated anti-aircraft fire, and was hit almost immediately. With his aircraft on fire, and one bomb lost, he continued the attack and released his remaining bomb on the escort vessel HIJMS Amakusa, causing the ship to capsize and sink. His aircraft then crashed into the sea, and his body was never recovered.

Lieutenant Gray was the only member of the Royal Canadian Navy to be awarded the Victoria Cross during the Second World War.

“Lieutenant Gray was known to his fellow military members as a courageous leader, with a brilliant flying spirit, who continued to inspire and motivate his crew after his unfortunate passing. By naming the sixth Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship after Lt Gray, we honour him as a Canadian naval hero, and celebrate his outstanding leadership and heroism”, said Vice-Admiral Art McDonald, Commander Royal Canadian Navy.

The names of the six Harry DeWolf-class Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ships (AOPS) will honour prominent Canadian naval figures who served Canada with the highest distinction. For the first time in its 110-year history, the RCN has named a class of ships after prominent Canadian naval figures, proudly honouring their leadership, achievements and heroism while serving Canadian interests at sea. The other five AOPS are named Harry DeWolf, Margaret Brooke, Max Bernays, William Hall, and Frédérick Rolette.

The Harry DeWolf-class will be capable of armed sea-borne surveillance of Canada’s waters, providing government situational awareness of activities and events in these regions, and cooperating with partners to assert and enforce Canadian sovereignty.

Harry DeWolf-class Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship (AOPS)

The Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) is acquiring six patrol vessels through the Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship (AOPS) project which is part of the National Shipbuilding Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS).

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.

Specifically designed to patrol Canada’s offshore waters and northernmost regions, this new class of ship will be at the core of an enhanced Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Arctic presence, effectively complementing the capabilities of our other current and future warships through critical reconnaissance and surveillance activities. In addition to highly versatile platforms that will enable the ship to support a variety of domestic and international missions, its modern accommodations and facilities will also significantly improve the comfort and quality of life for its crew, underscoring the CAF’s commitment to improved inclusivity and well-being for personnel.

The AOPS project will provide the RCN with six new ice-capable ships, as well as two variants of the AOPS for the Canadian Coast Guard. Construction for the following three ships is ongoing, with construction of the fifth and sixth ships expected to begin in 2021 and 2022, respectively. Construction of the seventh and eighth ships (for Coast Guard) is expected to begin in 2022 and 2023, respectively.

Ships of the class:

This is the first time in its 108-year history that the RCN is naming a class after a prominent Royal Canadian Navy figure. The remaining vessels of the class are being named to honour other prominent Navy heroes.

The six Harry DeWolf-class ships are: (AOPV is the official RCN ship’s class designation)

+ HMCS Harry DeWolf (AOPV 430)
+ HMCS Margaret Brooke (AOPV 431)
+ HMCS Max Bernays (AOPV 432)
+ HMCS William Hall (AOPV 433)
+ HMCS Frédérick Rolette (AOPV 434)
+ HMCS Robert Hampton Gray (AOPV 435)

Construction of future HMCS Harry DeWolf started at Halifax Shipyard in September 2015 and the ship was launched on September 15, 2018. The vessel commenced her initial builder’s sea trials in 2019. The vessel was delivered to the Navy on July 31, 2020.

The future HMCS Margaret Brooke was launched on November 10, 2019, and is currently pier side where work continues to prepare the ship for sea trials and handover to the Royal Canadian Navy later this year.

Inside Halifax Shipyard’s facilities, the Royal Canadian Navy’s third and fourth AOPS, the future HMCS Max Bernays and the future HMCS William Hall, are under construction.

Over the next few decades, Halifax Shipyard will build six AOPS for the Royal Canadian Navy, two AOPS for the Canadian Coast Guard, and 15 Canadian Surface Combatants for the Royal Canadian Navy, as part of Canada’s National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS).

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