October 28, 2022, the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) officially welcomed His Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Margaret Brooke (AOPV-431) into naval service with a commissioning ceremony.
This ceremony marks a significant achievement for both the RCN and the Canadian shipbuilding industry. The introduction of a second Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship (AOPS) delivered under the National Shipbuilding Strategy, which sustains thousands of jobs annually in Canada, will enhance the RCN’s ability to enforce sovereignty and meet the future defence challenges in Canada’s offshore and Arctic waters.
A ship’s commissioning ceremony is both a long-standing naval tradition, and, a special event for the ship’s company – proud sailors who – have just returned from the ship’s first deployment where they assisted communities in Atlantic Canada affected by Hurricane Fiona.
The commissioning of HMCS Margaret Brooke (AOPV-431) included a symbolic presentation of the commissioning pennant, as well as the symbolic presentation of the «keys to the ship» to the Commanding Officer, Commander Nicole Robichaud.
Specifically designed to patrol Canada’s offshore and Arctic waters, the Harry DeWolf-class AOPS bolsters RCN’s presence in the Arctic and its ability to operate globally protecting Canada’s interests at home and abroad.
The AOPS also augments Canada’s presence offshore, and will be capable of conducting a wide variety of operations abroad.
This is the first time in its 111-year history that the RCN is naming a class after a prominent Canadian Navy figure, Harry DeWolf. The remainder in the class will be named to honour other prominent Royal Canadian Navy heroes who served their country with the highest distinction.
HMCS Margaret Brooke (AOPV-431) is named in honour of Lieutenant-Commander Margaret Brooke, an RCN Nursing Sister decorated for gallantry during the Second World War for her actions followed the torpedoing and subsequent sinking of the Newfoundland ferry SS Caribou in 1942.
HMCS Margaret Brooke (AOPV-431), was launched in fall 2019, and delivered to the RCN in July 2021.
HMCS Margaret Brooke (AOPV-431) has already been hard-at-work, deploying on Operation NANOOK in August 2022, and on Operation LENTUS in September 2022.
On May 29, 2022, at Halifax Shipyard, shipbuilders, members of the Royal Canadian Navy, the federal and provincial governments as well as the families of two Canadian naval heroes marked another shipbuilding milestone with the official naming of HMCS Margaret Brooke (AOPV-431) and HMCS Max Bernays (AOPV-432).
Both ships are part of the fleet of six (6) Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships (AOPS) being delivered to the Royal Canadian Navy as part of the National Shipbuilding Strategy. The Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships are large, ice-capable ships, more than 100 metres/328 feet long, and designed to conduct a variety of missions in Canada’s waters, including in the Arctic. The vessels will be capable of conducting armed sea-borne surveillance, providing government situational awareness of activities and events in these regions. They will also be able to cooperate with partners in the Canadian Armed Forces and other government departments to assert and enforce Canadian sovereignty, when and where necessary.
The naming of a ship is a steeped in history and naval tradition. Dating back centuries, this ritual is believed to bring good luck and safe travel to the vessel and crew.
Allyson Brooke, the youngest niece of Margaret Brooke is the co-sponsor of HMCS Margaret Brooke (AOPV-431) along with Margaret Elizabeth Brooke (her older sister). This is the second AOPS and was delivered to the Royal Canadian Navy last summer.
Shannon Bernays is the granddaughter of Max Bernays and the sponsor of HMCS Max Bernays (AOPV-432), the third vessel that will be delivered to the Royal Canadian Navy this fall.
HMCS Margaret Brooke (AOPV-431)
AOPV 431 is named after Margaret Martha Brooke who enrolled as a Nursing Sister Dietician on March 9, 1942 at the rank of Sub-Lieutenant (SLt). She was promoted to the rank of Acting Lieutenant on July 1, 1946, then to Lieutenant (Navy) on January 1, 1948, and finally to Lieutenant-Commander on April 1, 1957. She served in the Royal Canadian Navy from 1942 to 1962.
Born in 1915 in Ardath, Sask., Lieutenant-Commander (LCdr) Brooke studied as a dietician before the start of the Second World War and chose it as her occupation upon her enrollment.
On October 14, 1942 during a crossing of the Cabot Strait off the coast of Newfoundland, the ferry SS Caribou was torpedoed by the German submarine U-69. The ferry sank in five minutes. Fighting for her own survival, LCdr Brooke (who was a SLt at the time) did everything humanly possible to save the life of her colleague and friend, Nursing Sister SLt Agnes Wilkie, while both women clung to ropes on a capsized lifeboat. In spite of LCdr Brooke’s heroic efforts to hang on to her with one arm, her friend succumbed to the frigid water. For this selfless act, LCdr Brooke was named a Member of the Order of the British Empire.
Following her return to civilian life, Margaret Brooke completed her university studies in paleontology at the University of Saskatchewan, where she achieved her doctorate. She was the author of numerous research studies on the subject. Margaret Brooke passed away in Victoria on January 9, 2016 at the age of 100.
«The Brooke family is very grateful to the Royal Canadian Navy for honouring our Aunt Margaret for her heroism», explained Allyson Brooke the sponsor of HMCS Margaret Brooke (AOPV-431). «She was a humble woman and did not boast about the recognition she received but I know when she was told about this great honour, she was very happy and proud. It was the perfect gift for her 100th birthday».
«The ship reflects her in many ways», Ms. Brooke explained. «She was a fighter, yet a humanitarian so, the multiple purpose capability of this ship to protect Canada when necessary but also be able to be equipped and deliver humanitarian aid when required would particularly please her».
HMCS Max Bernays (AOPV-432)
AOPV 432 is named after Chief Petty Officer (CPO) Max Bernays, a Canadian naval hero who served as the Coxswain of His Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Assiniboine during the Second World War’s Battle of the Atlantic.
Max Bernays was born in 1910 in Vancouver, British Columbia. He had served in the Royal Canadian Navy Volunteer Reserve (RCNVR) in 1929 and served with Canadian National Steamships in the 1930s. Bernays was recalled by the Royal Canadian Navy at the outbreak of the Second World War. By March 1942 Bernays had achieved the rank of Acting Chief Petty Officer and was the Coxswain aboard HMCS Assiniboine, a River-class destroyer.
On August 6, 1942, during intense surface gun action against the German submarine U-210, HMCS Assiniboine manoeuvred in and out of a fog attempting to ram and sink the enemy submarine. Both vessels were firing high explosive shells at very close range, resulting in a fire that engulfed the bridge and wheelhouse of Assiniboine. Surrounded by smoke and flames while steering the ship, CPO Bernays ordered two junior sailors to get clear, leaving him alone at the helm and trapped by the blaze. Besieged by flames, he executed all the helm orders as Assiniboine maneuvered for position against the U-boat, and did the work of the two telegraphmen, dispatching over 130 telegraph orders to the engine room. Several bullets and shells penetrated the wheelhouse as the enemy concentrated their machine-gun and cannon fire on the bridge. Eventually Assiniboine rammed and sank U-210 in what was considered to be an extremely hard-fought action, during which the Canadians suffered one fatality and 13 wounded.
CPO Bernays was awarded the distinguished Conspicuous Gallantry Medal (CGM) by the British Admiralty for his valour and dauntless devotion to duty during action. He was one of only two members of the RCN to receive the CGM during the Second World War.
«Max Bernays was a proud Canadian who cared about his crewmates and loved his country», said Shannon Bernays, the sponsor of HMCS Max Bernays (AOPV-432). «The Bernays family is honoured by this recognition. I wish my grandfather Max could have been here. He would have been very modest about any acknowledgement of his true bravery and service. But he would have been delighted to be amongst Navy compatriots and aboard this beautiful, world-class ship. We wish the crew good health and safe travels always».
«Today in Halifax we officially named two new Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships, HMCS Margaret Brooke (AOPV-431) and HMCS Max Bernays (AOPV-432) – honouring two Canadian naval heroes. I would like to thank Irving Shipyard for their great work on these two ships that will serve in the Canadian Armed Forces for decades to come», said The Honourable Filomena Tassi, Minister of Public Services and Procurement
«Nova Scotia is the best place in the world to build ships because shipbuilding is in our blood. Irving has carried on this legacy and will see that it continues long into the future. These ships were built by Nova Scotians for Canadians. They are an example of the quality Nova Scotians in the skilled trades can achieve», said Premier Tim Houston, Province of Nova Scotia
«The National Shipbuilding Strategy is creating jobs and economic activity across Canada, including locally in Halifax where the number of companies and workers benefitting from this program has increased substantially since 2015. As the next Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships to be added to the fleet, the official naming of HMCS Margaret Brooke (AOPV-431) and HMCS Max Bernays (AOPV-432) is an important milestone in our work to equip the Royal Canadian Navy and Canadian Coast Guard with the ships they need to protect Canadian interests», said Andy Fillmore, Member of Parliament for Halifax and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry.
«It gives me great pride to think of the naval heroes these ships are being named after, and great optimism to think of the incredible capability that they are bringing to the Royal Canadian Navy, and to Canada», said Vice-Admiral Craig Baines, Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy.
«This is a proud day for our team of over 2100 shipbuilders. These two ships are visible signs of the success of Canada’s National Shipbuilding Strategy. To date, the combatant fleet work at Irving Shipbuilding has generated over $4.35 billion in investments across Canada. We are also proud to be the largest employer of apprentices in Atlantic Canada as we continue to grow life-changing careers for the next generation. From our team to the crews of these fine ships we wish you fair winds and following seas», said Kevin Mooney, President of Irving Shipbuilding.
The delivery of the second of six Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships (AOPS), Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Margaret Brooke (AOPV 431), on July 15, 2021 in Halifax marks an important milestone both for the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) and for the ship’s crew.
«The crew of HMCS Margaret Brooke (AOPV 431) finally has a ship to call their own», said Commander Nicole Robichaud, the ship’s Commanding Officer. «The delivery would not be possible without the dedication of the crew, who have spent the better part of the last year to 18 months training and learning about this ship».
The delivery of HMCS Margaret Brooke, hull number 431, is a highly anticipated event, said Commander Robichaud of the ship, which is being built under the National Shipbuilding Strategy by Irving Shipbuilding.
«Not only is a new ship entering into service with the RCN, but a new capability is also being introduced and Margaret Brooke will directly contribute to achieving global Canadian objectives».
Training in preparation for delivery has involved the ship’s company in both computer-based learning and a practical training program at various shore-based facilities, as well as on board HMCS Harry DeWolf (AOPV 430), the first AOPS and the ship after which the entire class is named, said Lieutenant-Commander (Lieutenant Commander) Dusty Allen, Margaret Brooke’s Executive Officer.
«While this training ensures we are well-postured to receive the ship, nothing can replace the pride and ownership of having a unit to call your own», he said, commending the «incredible work ethic, enthusiasm and pride» the ship’s crew have shown.
The journey to delivery day was challenging at times, particularly with regard to COVID-19 pandemic.
«COVID has had an impact on everyone, everywhere», said Commander Robichaud. «It has affected everything from materiel, parts, labour and timelines, to training, morale, personnel requirements and taskings».
Irving Shipbuilding, the Canadian shipbuilder and prime contractor for the AOPS program, put the ship through its builder trials in mid-May. Now, with the delivery of HMCS Margaret Brooke (AOPV 431), the ship is «one step closer to becoming part of the fleet», said Commander Nicole Robichaud.
«We are quite fortunate to have had HMCS Harry DeWolf (AOPV 430) complete its post-acceptance period so that we can learn from and improve on practices that are unique to being a new class of ship», said Commander Robichaud. « HMCS Harry DeWolf (AOPV 430) has done a great job at blazing the path so that we are not learning everything from scratch».
The first of the six AOPS, HMCS Harry DeWolf (AOPV 430), was delivered in July 2020 and officially commissioned into the RCN June 2021. The third AOPS, HMCS Max Bernays (AOPV 432), will be launched later in 2021.
A commissioning ceremony for HMCS Margaret Brooke (AOPV 431) is planned for October 2022, tying in with the 80th anniversary of the sinking of the SS Caribou, the steamship passenger ferry that linked Newfoundland to Nova Scotia before it was torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine on October 14, 1942. The ferry sunk in five minutes.
Nursing Sister Lieutenant Commander Margaret Brooke (then a sub-lieutenant), who was on the Caribou, received a Member (Military Division) of the Order of the British Empire for her efforts to save her friend, Nursing Sister Sub-Lieutenant Agnes Wilkie. Both women clung to ropes on a capsized lifeboat. In spite of Lieutenant Commander Brooke’s heroic efforts to hang on to Sub-Lieutenant Wilkie with one arm, her friend succumbed to the frigid water.
After the sinking, Lieutenant Commander Brooke became the first Canadian woman to receive the award.
Remaining a member of the Navy until 1962 when she retired as a lieutenant-commander, Margaret Brooke was 100 years old before she died on January 9, 2016. On her 100th birthday, April 10, 2015, then-Minister of National Defence Jason Kenney called her to tell her that the second AOPS would bear her name, marking another couple of «firsts» for the former Nursing Sister – the first woman to have a Canadian warship named for her and the first time such a ship was named for a living person.
HMCS Margaret Brooke (AOPV 431) has a busy sailing schedule ahead, and will now officially be Commander Robichaud’s command at sea. Following the forthcoming post-delivery work period and naming ceremony, HMCS Margaret Brooke (AOPV 431) and its crew will complete a series of trials, all leading to its commissioning in 2022.
«We will be sailing for the next year, conducting post-acceptance trials, testing and trialing all aspects of the machinery and equipment, with a plan to participate in Operation Nanook in the fall of 2022», she said.
The AOPS will primarily conduct presence and surveillance missions along Canada’s maritime approaches, to know who is operating in our waters and be prepared to react to a wide variety of incidents. They will also support other government departments and agencies, such as the Canadian Coast Guard, that are focused on ensuring safe navigation of shipping in arctic waters.
These contemporary and multifunctional ships will be at the core of an enhanced Canadian Arctic presence, and will effectively and strategically complement the capabilities of our current and future warships through critical reconnaissance and surveillance operations.
They will also be capable of participating in a wide variety of international operations such as anti-smuggling, anti-piracy, and international security and stability. These ships will be able to contribute to humanitarian assistance, emergency response and disaster relief domestically and internationally, and undertake a diverse range of missions worldwide.
The Royal Canadian Navy’s second Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship (AOPS), the future HMCS Margaret Brooke (AOPV 431), was launched today, November 10, 2019, at Halifax Shipyard.
The launch of the second of six AOPS for the Royal Canadian Navy, marks a significant milestone for Canada’s National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS) and the revitalization of the Royal Canadian Navy’s combatant fleet.
The 103-metre/338-foot future HMCS Margaret Brooke (AOPV 431) transitioned from Halifax Shipyard’s land level facility to a submersible barge on November 8, 2019 and launched in the Bedford Basin on November 10, 2019.
The ship is now pier side at Halifax Shipyard where work continues to prepare the ship for sea trials and handover to the Royal Canadian Navy late next year.
The future HMCS Margaret Brooke (AOPV 431) joins Canada’s lead AOPS, the future HMCS Harry DeWolf (AOPV 430), pier side at Halifax Shipyard. The future HMCS Harry DeWolf (AOPV 430) is in the final stages of construction and is preparing for initial builder sea trials at the end of November.
Inside Halifax Shipyard’s facilities, the Royal Canadian Navy’s third and fourth AOPS, the future HMCS Max Bernay (AOPV 432) and the future HMCS William Hall (AOPV 433), are under construction. The first two major sections of the future HMCS Max Bernay (AOPV 432) are scheduled to be moved outside in spring 2020.
Canada’s NSS was created to replace the current surface fleets of the Royal Canadian Navy and the Canadian Coast Guard. Over the next few decades, Halifax Shipyard will build six AOPS for the Royal Canadian Navy, two AOPS for the Canadian Coast Guard, and 15 Canadian Surface Combatants for the Royal Canadian Navy.
As a result of the NSS, Irving Shipbuilding has become one of Atlantic Canada’s largest regional employers, with thousands of Canadians now working in skilled, well-paying jobs. Halifax Shipyard, long at the centre of Canadian shipbuilding, is now home to the most modern, innovative shipbuilding facilities, equipment, and processes in North America.
Halifax Shipyard is also continuing its legacy as the Halifax-class In-Service Support Centre of Excellence, with HMCS Charlottetown (FFH 339) currently in the graving dock for an extensive docking work period.
«Congratulations to our more than 2,000 shipbuilders on today’s successful launch of the future HMCS Margaret Brooke (AOPV 431). It is exciting to have two Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships in the water and closer to being in use by the Royal Canadian Navy’s sailors», Kevin McCoy, President, Irving Shipbuilding.