Royal Canadian Navy Takes Delivery of First Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship HMCS Harry DeWolf

The Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) took delivery of its first Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship (AOPS), HMCS Harry DeWolf (AOPV 430), on July 31.

The delivery ceremony took place at Canadian Forces Base Halifax in Halifax, Nova Scotia. CFB Halifax is Canada’s east coast naval base and home port to the Canadian Fleet Atlantic.

The ship will remain docked at Jetty NJ at the CFB Halifax Dockyard while the RCN conducts its post-acceptance trials and training, including operations near Newfoundland and Labrador. Once this post-acceptance work is complete, the ship will undergo a formal commissioning ceremony in summer 2021, which will mark that it has officially entered into active naval service, followed by an Arctic deployment.

The HMCS Harry DeWolf, named for Canadian wartime naval hero Vice-Admiral Harry DeWolf, is the first ship built for the RCN under the National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS).

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 of the ship/class-name was made at HMCS Haida, which now serves as a museum ship on the Hamilton waterfront.

“Today, because of the hard work of the staff at Irving, we are receiving the first of Canada’s Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships, the HMCS Harry DeWolf. Since the announcement of our fully funded defence policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged, we have reached another milestone. By ensuring that our defence policy was fully funded, our sailors will have the confidence they will receive all of the ships outlined in the National Shipbuilding Strategy, including six AOPS for the Royal Canadian Navy. This milestone is important for our homegrown defence industry, for the Royal Canadian Navy, and for the protection of Canada. Every single worker at Irving has done incredible work to deliver these impressive ships to the Royal Canadian Navy. Thank you for everything you do to empower our people in uniform with the equipment and support they need to protect Canada, at home and abroad,” said Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence.

“The delivery of HMCS Harry DeWolf, first of a class of six Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships (AOPS), marks the beginning of an exciting time for the RCN – our future fleet is beginning to be delivered. These ships will be at the core of an enhanced Canadian Arctic presence, effectively complementing the capabilities of our other current and future warships through critical reconnaissance and surveillance operations. The Harry DeWolf-class will also be capable of a myriad of different mission sets including humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, tasks for which it is particularly well suited. Bravo Zulu and thank you to all of those across the Government-Industry shipbuilding team – especially Irving Shipbuilding Inc, the builder – whose collaboration has made Canada stronger today and welcome aboard to the ship’s company,” said Vice-Admiral Art McDonald, Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy.

At 103 metres and 6,615 tonnes, the HMCS Harry DeWolf is also the largest Royal Canadian Navy ship built in Canada in 50 years. Construction of 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 last year.

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.

The Royal Canadian Navy (RCN)’s lead Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship (AOPS), the future HMCS Harry DeWolf (AOPV 430), departing Halifax for her final sea trials on July 10, 2020. Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Photo.

AOPS Specifications:

+ Length: 103 metres
+ Beam (width): 19 metres
+ Complement (capacity): 65

AOPS Features:

+ Integrated Bridge Navigation System: This is a modern integrated bridge, where the ship’s crew can control the navigation, machinery, and damage control systems can be performed.

+ Multi-Purpose Operational Space: The AOPV provides a multi-purpose space where operational planning and mission execution will be coordinated.

+ BAE Mk 38 Gun: This 25mm Mk 38 machine gun system that features a highly accurate gun targeting and surveillance system, as well as the M242 Cannon. This systen can be employed to support domestic law enforcement roles. The system will be modified for protection against arctic conditions.

+ Enclosed Focsle and Cable Deck: The enclosed focsle and cable deck will protect machinery on the foredeck and personal workspaces from harsh arctic environments.

+ Helicopter Capability: The AOPV has an embarked helicopter capability, and depending on mission requirements is able to accommodate ranging from small utility aircraft up to the new CH-148 maritime helicopter.

+ Cargo and Payloads management: The stern (rear) of the ship is able to accommodate multiple payload options such as shipping containers, underwater survey equipment, or landing craft. The ship is also equipped with a 20-tonne crane, providing self-load and unload capability.

+ Vehicle Bay: The arctic environment can vary drastically and in order to provide rapid mobility capability to personnel over land or ice, the AOPV has a bay for specialized vehicles such as pickup trucks, ATVs, and snowmobiles.

+ Diesel/Electric Propulsion: The AOPV will be powered by ‎two 4.5 megawatt (MW) main propulsion (induction) motors, and four 3.6 mega volt ampere (MVA) generators.

+ Retractable Active Fin Stabilizers: The retractable active fin stabilizers can be deployed to reduce ship roll while conducting open ocean operations, and can be retracted for operations in ice.

+ Multi-Role Rescue Boats: The multi-role rescue boats boast a top speed of 35+ knots (~65 km/h) and are 8.5 metres long. These water craft will be used in support of rescue operations, personnel transfers and boarding operations.

+ Bow Thrusters: The bow thrusters provides increased manoeuvrability for the ship and allows for berthing without tug assistance.

AOPS Missions:

The Harry DeWolf-class patrol ships be able to perform a wide variety of tasks, such as:

+ Provide increased presence and conduct surveillance operations throughout Canada’s waters, including in the Arctic;
+ Support Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) sovereignty operations;
+ Participate in a wide variety of international operations, such as anti-smuggling, anti-piracy or international security and stability;
+ Contribute to humanitarian assistance, emergency response and disaster relief domestically or internationally;
+ Conduct Search and Rescue (SAR) and facilitate communications among other ships;
+ Support CAF core missions including capacity building in support of other nations; and
+ Support other government departments in their ability to enforce their respective mandates.

The Harry DeWolf-class patrol ships will operate in the Arctic between June and October, providing a greater, and longer, CAF presence in the north. They will be capable of operating in first-year ice of 120-centimetre thickness. This will allow the Royal Canadian Navy to have unescorted access to areas of the Arctic that were previously inaccessible.

The Harry DeWolf-class patrol ships will have the ability to sustain operations for up to four months. The Nanisivik Naval Facility and RCN’s future support ships will further extend the operations by refueling and replenishing the ships.

The Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship project will also acquire integrated logistics support products, jetty infrastructures in Halifax and Esquimalt, and a berthing and fueling facility in Nanisivik, Nunavut.

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)
+ The name of the sixth ship (AOPV 435) is yet to be officially announced, likely HMCS Robert Hampton Gray

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 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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