HMCS Harry DeWolf welcomed into Royal Canadian Navy fleet

HMCS Harry DeWolf was welcomed into active service on Saturday. Irving Shipbuilding

The Royal Canadian Navy held a commissioning ceremony Saturday for HMCS Harry DeWolf, the first ship completed under the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy, to welcome it into active service.

The vessel, built at Irving Shipbuilding’s Halifax Shipyard, is the navy’s lead ship in its class of Arctic offshore patrol vessels.

“Nova Scotia has long been known for its expertise in shipbuilding, and now we have the first commissioned vessel ready for deployment,” said Premier Iain Rankin in a release.

The $400-million ship was delivered to the navy at the end of July 2020, five years after Irving started work on it.

Harry DeWolf was a career navy officer who retired as chief of the naval staff in 1960. He rose to prominence as commander of HMCS Haida during the Second World War, known for daring tactical manoeuvres and sinking numerous enemy vessels, especially in the English Channel.

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The commissioning ceremony was held in commemoration of his birth on June 26, 1903. DeWolf died in December 2000.

The vessel named for him is the first of six new Arctic and offshore patrol vessels to be built in decades for the Royal Canadian Navy to conduct military operations in the Arctics.

HMCS Harry DeWolf is pictured during an Arctic sea trial this year.
HMCS Harry DeWolf is pictured during an Arctic sea trial this year. Irving Shipbuilding

Rankin said more than 1,100 Nova Scotians were directly employed in the ship’s construction and that the construction of the remaining ships “will provide opportunities for thousands more.”

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HMCS Harry DeWolf has had some hiccups along the way. The ship was delivered to the navy two years later than scheduled after cost overruns and delays in the program.

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In October 2020, the navy launched an investigation into an unexplained breakdown of the brand-new ship off the coast of Halifax.

The crew found the cooling pumps on two of the ship’s four diesel generators had broken. The navy has not provided an update on the investigation but said at the time the issues had been resolved.

More ships coming

In a release, Irving Shipbuilding said the ship’s first mission will begin in August when it will begin to sail around North America, transiting six oceans, the Northwest Passage and the Panama Canal.

“It will be the first time in 50 years that this journey has been taken by a Canadian naval ship,” it said.

“The (Arctic offshore patrol) ships will serve many missions – from search & rescue and humanitarian relief to protecting the sovereignty of Canada’s shores that make up the longest national coastline in the world.”

The release said the shipyard is expected to mark the delivery of HMCS Margaret Brooke next month, with the future HMCS Max Bernays being launched later this year.

Shipbuilders also already laid the keel for the future HMCS William Hall and cut steel on the fifth ship, the future HMCS Frédérick Rolette. Next month, steel will be cut on the future HMCS Robert Hampton Gray.

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The release said Irving will begin construction of the larger Canadian Surface Combatant ships in 2024.

Click to play video: 'HMCS Harry DeWolf Christening'
HMCS Harry DeWolf Christening

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