Sophie Gregoire Trudeau presided over the official naming of Canada’s first Arctic and offshore patrol ship in Halifax on Friday afternoon, praising the bravery of the veteran sailor for whom it is named.
HMCS Harry DeWolf is named in honour of a vice-admiral who oversaw the rescue of 42 sailors from HMCS Athabaskan on April 29, 1944, during the Second World War.
“His perseverance and his hope for a better country, we all need more of it. Canada needs more of it,” said Gregoire Trudeau, addressing hundreds of navy members, shipbuilders and dignitaries at the Irving Shipyard where the vessel was built.
“He was decorated many times for outstanding service throughout his naval career. He was a local hero to many because of his exceptional character and bravery.”
Gregoire Trudeau broke a bottle of Nova Scotia bubbly against the bow of the 103 metre-long vessel, which she said will “provide capabilities that will benefit Canadians and the world.”
Harry DeWolf is the first of at least five Arctic and offshore patrol vessels tasked with patrolling Canadian waters, including the Arctic.
Irving said construction of the second and third vessels – to be known as HMCS Margaret Brooke and HMCS Max Bernays – is already well underway, and construction of a fourth is set to begin later this year.
In her speech, Gregoire Trudeau, the wife of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, acknowledged the hard work of the navy members who will make up the ship’s crew.
“We all share this path of hard work, this path of service, and we are one big family. We must continue to surround and encourage the work of so many exceptional Canadians that will be on board this ship,” she said.
“To the entire Harry DeWolf courageous crew, we say fairest winds and following seas. Bonne navigation!”
Gregoire Trudeau was joined by several federal politicians, including Treasury Board President Scott Brison and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan.
Also speaking Friday afternoon, Irving Shipbuilding co-CEO J.D. Irving told the crowd he was proud of the shipbuilders who worked on HMCS Harry DeWolf, which will be the first large ship the Canadian Navy will receive in 20 years.
“We know the men and women of this shipyard have, and continue, to put their skills to work every day to deliver the best value for Canada,” he said.
“We believe the best shipbuilding team in the country – 1,900 strong and growing – is right here.”
Irving made multiple references to the National Shipbuilding Strategy, a long-term project awarded to the company in 2011 in an effort to revitalize the country’s shipbuilding industry.
“We all worked together to achieve this historic landmark goal. Together, we earned this historic contract,” he said.
“It’s been a game-changer, a generational opportunity that we do not take for granted.”
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The ship will need to go through testing to make sure everything works according to the specifications in the contract.
Irving will also build 15 vessels under the Canadian Surface Combatant project over the next 25 years.