HMCS Harry DeWolf makes its mark in Iqaluit

Arctic patrol vessel makes maiden voyage in Canadian Arctic waters

The HMCS Harry DeWolf, Canada’s new Arctic patrol vessel, is seen here off Iqaluit’s shore on Wednesday. (Photo by Corey Larocque)

By David Lochead

The HMCS Harry DeWolf is making its debut offshore from Iqaluit this week to participate in a number of military exercises.

Crew on the ship are carrying out simulated emergency situations as part of Operation Nanook, an Arctic military operation the Department of Defence carries out every year. Some of those simulations include how to respond to a sinking ship or an oil spill at sea.

Joining the Harry DeWolf in these drills will be the Canadian and United States coast guards, according to Canadian Armed Forces Maj. Mark Gough.

It  is the first of of a new class of ships intended to assert Canada’s sovereignty in the Arctic and along its coast, according to the Royal Canadian Navy. Five more ships have yet to be built.

They all will be 103 metres long, weigh 6,440 tonnes, and will feature onboard rescue boats and a vehicle bay. They will also have the capability to support helicopter takeoffs and landings, and have 25-mm guns on their bows.

Unlike other ships in the Royal Canadian Navy fleet, the Harry DeWolf has the ability to traverse the Arctic with its icebreaker and enclosed decks to keep the crew warm. It’s designed to be versatile, which is important, Gough says, because Canada is surrounded by three different oceans.

“To support Canadian security and sovereignty we need to be able to operate pretty much anywhere,” Gough said.

The HMCS Harry DeWolf will participate in military exercises while in Iqaluit. (Photo by Corey Larocque)

Another important objective of Harry DeWolf’s maiden Arctic voyage is to visit Inuit communities in Nunavut and build relationships with the people who live there. Before the ship was sailing in Nunavut, the commanding officer went to Inuit communities to begin building those relationships. Now that the HMCS Harry DeWolf is operational the plan is to continue those connections by sailing to Pond Inlet, Cambridge Bay and Arctic Bay among other Nunavut communities, Gough said.

“Nobody knows the area like the local [Indigenous and Inuit peoples],” he said.

The ship is named after Vice-Admiral Harry DeWolf, one of the most accomplished Canadian naval officers of the Second World War.

After its Nunavut tour, the Harry DeWolf will traverse the Northwest Passage on its way to the West Coast.

Later this year, it will sail to Mexico and then to Panama to participate in Operation Carribbe, a multinational anti-drug operation.

Gough says the ship should return home to Halifax by December.

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(9) Comments:

  1. Posted by temp on

    I hate naming anything after people; I’m sure Mr. DeWolf was a great officer, but what about his ship, what about his crew, his support? I prefer naming after places. How about HMCS Iqaluit? If it’s an Arctic patrol ship, can it not be tied to a community, to something with an Arctic reference? And I am a Navy vet.

    • Posted by Peter Lorimer on

      This class of ships is named after decorated heroes of the Canadian Navy. The second one, Margaret Brooke is already in the water. She is named after a nurse who tried to save people around her in the freezing Atlantic after they were torpedoed. The most interesting one is named after a Black man William Hall who was awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery during a naval battle.
      Other classes of ships have been named after cities and towns. It is certainly Iqaluit’s turn the next time it comes around.

    • Posted by Observer on

      DeWolf, while captain of the destroyer St. Laurent (and a petty officer) jumped on top of a live torpedo that had accidentally been fired on deck and skittering around and managed to keep it under control long enough to release the air that was running its engine.

      The man wrestled a one and a half tonne torpedo. And *won*.

  2. Posted by Sami Kasuto on

    HMCS means Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship. So to repeatedly say THE HMCS Harry DeWolf is ridiculous. It’s just HMCS Harry DeWolf. Same for the Harry DeWolf. The correct way to refer to the ship is just Harry DeWolf. HMCS Harry DeWolf will be doing so and so. Following that, Harry DeWolf will be sailing to so and so. Using the word ”the” sounds ridiculous.

    • Posted by Reporter School? on

      I can’t tell you how often I see reporters in Canada screw-up military protocol and ranks, particularly by using American abbreviations or terms.

      You’d think that such a basic would be taught in reporter school.

  3. Posted by Jim Parker on

    Dear David,

    Great article, BUT . .. Never put ‘the’ in front of HMCS! I’m sure you understand that ‘HMCS’ stands for Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship. Would you put ‘the’ in front of this? Sadly, Canadian writers and journalists know so little about our Canadian military .. .


  4. Posted by Robert Holmes on

    Canadians need to be reminded of our history and naming ships after what should be our heros is a good way to do it.

  5. Posted by Joe Amarualik on

    Hey, can I get a ride to the Caribbean? I have my passport.

  6. Posted by Pain In The Groen on

    “The HMCS Harry Butt” would definitely have a more Iqaluit-centric ring to it, to be fair.


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