The Royal Canadian Navy officially received on Friday its new Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship (AOPS), HMCS Harry DeWolf, first of a class of six ice-capable warships the military is expected to get to beef up its ability to protect Canada’s northern coastal waters.
Vice-Admiral Art McDonald, Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy, said the delivery of HMCS Harry DeWolf, named in honour of Vice-Admiral Harry DeWolf, a Canadian wartime naval hero, marks the beginning of an “exciting time for the RCN.”
In addition to operating in up to 120 cm of first-year sea ice, these new ice-capable warships will be able to accommodate a submarine-hunting Cyclone helicopter as well as small vehicles, deployable boats, and cargo containers.
In terms of their offensive and ice capabilities, AOPS are a far cry from an armed icebreaker, but will at the same time have more maneuverability and flexibility, experts say.
“These ships will be at the core of an enhanced Canadian Arctic presence, effectively complementing the capabilities of our other current and future warships through critical reconnaissance and surveillance operations,” McDonald said in a statement.
The Harry DeWolf-class will also be capable of a myriad of different mission sets including humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, McDonald added.
— Canadian Armed Forces (@CanadianForces) July 31, 2020
Then-prime minister Stephen Harper first announced plans to build up to eight armed Arctic patrol vessels in July 2007 and Irving was selected in October 2011 to produce them before building replacements for the navy’s frigates and destroyers.
But the following years saw several cost overruns and delays in the program, which ballooned from $3.1 billion initially budgeted for the project to $4.1 billion for six warships.
Construction of the 103-metre, 6,615-tonne ship began at Halifax Shipyard in September 2015. It was launched on Sept. 15, 2018 and underwent sea trials in 2019.