The first of a series of new Arctic patrol ships has been delivered to the Royal Canadian Navy

The future HMCS Harry DeWolf is set to be commissioned next summer.

By Dustin Patar, Nunatsiaq News - August 6, 2020
The first Arctic and offshore patrol ship, the Harry DeWolf, was delivered to the Government of Canada on July 31 in Halifax. (Mona Ghiz / Royal Canadian Navy via Nunatsiaq News)

Canada’s first Arctic and offshore patrol ship is now in the hands of the Government of Canada.

The future Harry DeWolf, the first new Royal Canadian Navy ship in nearly a quarter of a century, was delivered in Halifax on July 31 after undergoing sea trials last fall.

“This is a big deal, not just for the RCN, but for all of Canada,” said Art McDonald, vice-admiral of the Royal Canadian Navy, in a news release.

“This ship will give us new capabilities in our North while also being able to operate offshore and internationally. It is truly a ship for coast to coast to coast.”

The Harry DeWolf, which bears the name of a wartime naval officer, is the first of six patrol ships of its kind. Three others are currently being built, with the next vessel scheduled to be delivered in 2021.

This new class of Arctic offshore patrol ships will conduct presence and surveillance missions along Canada’s maritime borders.

With the ability to operate in up to 120 cm of first-year sea ice and to transport cargo, small vehicles, deployable boats and a Cyclone helicopter, the ships will also support other government agencies, such as the Canadian Coast Guard, in ensuring the safe navigation of shipping in the Arctic.

“This ship, with its fuel reserves and northern fuelling station, will enable Canada to routinely sail through our Arctic Archipelago and help safeguard Canada’s interests and sovereignty in the North,” said McDonald.

The Nanisivik fuel depot near Arctic Bay, which was originally slated to be operational last year, 12 years after the project was announced, is now anticipated to be operational by September next year.

In addition to the normal logistical challenges of building in the Arctic, the fuel depot project has also been affected by the ongoing pandemic.

“Due to COVID-19 delays, a small amount of contractors are expected to return to the site in August to start the 2020 work season. This means that the season will be much shorter than planned and will only allow for a limited amount of work to be completed,” said Jessica Lamirande, a Department of National Defence spokesperson, in an email to Nunatsiaq News.

In the meantime, the Harry DeWolf still requires additional tests and trials to make the ship fully operational.

The ship’s future crew members are also undergoing training and operational-readiness exercises in order to familiarize themselves with the new ship.

The navy is planning a deployment near Newfoundland and Labrador in the fall to further prepare the crew.

Following its formal commissioning ceremony next summer, the Harry DeWolf will be deployed to the Arctic.