New Arctic patrol ship begins sea trials

Future HMCS Harry DeWolf cruises into Bedford Basin

The future HMCS Harry DeWolf began its initial sea trials last week just outside Halifax. (Image courtesy of Irving Shipbuilding)

By Dustin Patar

Powered by its two diesel-electric engines, the future HMCS Harry DeWolf cruised into the Bedford Basin near Halifax last week to begin its sea trials.

According to an Irving Shipbuilding news release, over the next few weeks the initial sea trials—a series of performance and seaworthiness tests—will focus on anchor handling, the integrated bridge and navigation system, fin stabilizers, rescue boat launches and recovery, and communication systems.

From there, the vessel will begin formal sea trials followed by its acceptance and eventual commissioning by the Royal Canadian Navy, which is expected to happen sometime in the first quarter of 2020.

The Harry DeWolf, the largest Royal Canadian Navy ship built in Canada in a half-century, is the first of six Arctic and offshore patrol ships.

Ordered by the Navy as part of Canada’s national shipbuilding strategy, the vessels will be capable of conducting a diverse range of missions in Canadian waters—including in the Arctic—such as conducting surveillance, combating smuggling and piracy, and assisting with search and rescue.

The second patrol vessel being built by Irving, the future HMCS Margaret Brooke, launched earlier this month and is expected to be handed over to the Royal Canadian Navy by late 2020.

The third and fourth vessels, the future HMCS Max Bernay and HMCS William Hall, are both currently under construction at the Halifax shipyard, while construction on vessels five and six has yet to begin.

In addition to the six Harry DeWolfe-class vessels ordered by the navy, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced in May that the Canadian Coast Guard would also be ordering two of these vessels to help replace the aging coast guard fleet.

Days after that announcement, Corey Gleason, commanding officer of the HMCS Harry DeWolf, standing beside Qikiqtani Inuit Association president P.J. Akeeagok and Nunavut Premier Joe Savikataaq, formally recognized the affiliation between the ship and the Qikiqtani region’s communities.

“Inuit are coastal people. There are 13 communities in this resilient region and they’re all coastal communities…. So as coastal people Inuit have a vested interest in the operations as well as the duties of the navy ships deployed in Inuit Nunangat,” said Akeeagok.

Gleason also took some time to talk about his “ambitious plans,” including the creation of naval rangers, much like the programs offered by the Canadian Armed Forces.

But the Harry DeWolf, like the class of ships bearing the same name, has not been without criticisms.

In 2013, defence critics slammed the new Arctic patrol ships in a report called “Titanic blunder.”

According to the report, the design of the patrol ships is unsuitable for both the Arctic and for patrol purposes, in addition to having an extraordinarily high $700-million price tag, particularly when compared to similar types of American and Australian patrol vessels.

Despite the calls for the cancellation of the procurement of these ships, there are now two in the waters outside Halifax and by next summer the future HMCS Harry DeWolf could be plying the waters of Nunavut.

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(5) Comments:

  1. Posted by Peter Foran on

    I worry that the ship is too lightly armed to protect itself or protect force.

    • Posted by Wayne Tremblay on

      I fully agree Peter Foran. It’s like buying a 2 wheel drive Hummer 2 if I may use that analogy. What a waste of what could have been such a much needed additional weapons platform for our depleted Navy. The small gun on the AOPS is what other navies use as tertiary weapons which has found much use off the Horn of Africa against the small boats used by Somali Pirates. Our vessels would never stand a chance against another suitably equipped warship. What a waste of money. I hope they have allocated some space for extra 21st century weaponry such as surface to air and surface to surface missiles should the need arise, and if we can get them fast enough in an emergency. The pea shooter on the AOPS can’t even support troops ashore should we ever, God forbid, misuse them during an opposed landing situation.

    • Posted by buuuuut on

      buuuuuut did you read its purpose, the 6 ships being built to only patrol in Canadian waters against smuggling, for search and rescue, surveillance, etc,, basically light duties. AND these arent even the ships that would be summoned if the navy were to defend Canada, they would summon the Halifax-class frigates and/or the Kingston-class coastal defense vessels

      • Posted by Wayne Tremblay on

        Do you mean in time of war we would hide these ships in the Arctic because their purpose was to patrol the North. You mean we wouldn’t try to use them for other purposes. The Labrador was an Icebreaker and we deployed it to Europe so why not deploy these ships anywhere else in the world if need be. In time of war, Canada, and indeed all countries have used anything that floats in an attempt to defend themselves or get the job done. In WWI and WWII we were putting guns on private yachts to patrol our shores and they with their crews payed the price for neglect and cost saving measures. In WWII we were sending Corvettes at sea with wooden guns in an attempt to fool the enemy until we could procure real guns them. Canada can’t afford to build single purpose warships. Currently we only have 12 decently armed Frigates. We have 12 unarmed and dangerously slow Kingston Class Coastal Patrol Vessels that were purposely built to train Reserves that we are now forced deploy overseas because we want to make an impression on the UN and have nothing else to send.

  2. Posted by Warlord Buzzard on

    The Russians & Chinese are making plans for the Arctic region to dominate it…part of their world domination eventually…things are moving at a fast pace and Canada needs to get serious about protecting the Arctic.

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