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Arctic patrol vessel named after Robert Hampton Gray, Second World War navy pilot

HMCS Harry deWolf heads from the Irving-owned Halifax Shipyard on its way to being delivered to the Royal Canadian Navy dockyard in Halifax on Wednesday, July 31, 2020. The vessel is the first of the new offshore Arctic patrol ships and will conduct surveillance operations, assist in anti-smuggling and anti-piracy operations as well as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

The Royal Canadian Navy announced today its sixth Arctic patrol vessel will be named after Lt. Robert Hampton Gray, a Second World War navy hero.

Gray volunteered for the naval reserve in 1940, served as a pilot in the navy’s fleet and embarked on HMS Formidable during the war in the Pacific in April 1945.

He was awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously, for courage and determination in carrying out air strikes on the Japanese destroyer, Amakusa.

On Aug. 9, 1945, he led two attack flights of Corsair aircraft against enemy naval vessels in Onagawa Bay, and was hit by anti-aircraft fire.

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With his aircraft in flames, and one bomb lost, he continued the attack and released his remaining bomb on the escort vessel Amakusa, causing the ship to capsize and sink.

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Grey’s aircraft crashed into the sea and his body was never recovered.

The navy recently welcomed the first offshore patrol ship, HMCS Harry DeWolf, into service at a ceremony in Halifax, five years after the Irving shipyard started cutting steel on the vessel.

Read more: Canadian Navy to welcome first Arctic and offshore patrol ship on Friday

Arctic and offshore patrol ships are the first vessels since the 1950s specially built for military operations in the Arctic.

The names of the six patrol ships honour prominent Canadian naval figures who served their country with distinction.

The other five ships are named Harry DeWolf, Margaret Brooke, Max Bernays, William Hall, and Frederick Rolette.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 10, 2020.

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