Harry DeWolf-class offshore patrol vessel

HMCS Harry DeWolf under construction May 2018
Class overview
Name: Harry DeWolf class
Builders: Halifax Shipyards
Operators:  Royal Canadian Navy
  • CA$3.5 billion (design and build)
  • CA$2.3 billion for construction only[1]
Planned: 6[2]
Building: 3
General characteristics
Type: Patrol vessel
Displacement: 6,440 metric tonnes
Length: 103.6 m (340 ft)[3]
Beam: 19 m (62 ft)[3]
Installed power: Four 3.6 MW (4,800 hp) generators[4]
Propulsion: Diesel-electric; two shafts (2 × 4.5 MW (6,000 hp))[4]
  • 17 knots (31 km/h; 20 mph) (open water)[3]
  • 3 knots (5.6 km/h; 3.5 mph) (icebreaking)
Range: 6,800 nautical miles (12,600 km)[3]
Boats & landing
craft carried:
Two multi-role rescue boats
Complement: 65
Sensors and
processing systems:
AESA Radar, MESA 4D Radar, SATCOM (Link 16), Multichannel VHF/HF Radio, Anti-missile detect systems, Sonar, SAGEM Integrated Bridge Navigational System, and Damage/Machinery Control Systems
  • 1 × BAE Mk 38 25 mm
  • 2 × M2 Browning machine gun
Aircraft carried:
Aviation facilities:

The Harry DeWolf-class offshore patrol vessel is a Government of Canada procurement project for the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) that is part of the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy. The class was previously referred to as Arctic Offshore Patrol Ship (AOPS). In July 2007 the federal government announced plans for acquiring six to eight icebreaking warships for the RCN.[5][6][7][8][9][10][11]

The vessels had been speculated to be modelled on the Norwegian Svalbard class and as of 2007 were projected to cost CA$3.5 billion to construct with a total project procurement budgeted to cost $4.3 billion in order to cover maintenance over the 25-year lifespan of the vessels.[12]

The lead ship of the class was announced as Harry DeWolf in September 2014, and four additional ships were named in January 2015. Construction of the ships Harry DeWolf and Margaret Brooke started in September 2015 and September 2016 at Halifax Shipyards, respectively. Harry DeWolf and Margaret Brooke were planned to be delivered in 2018. Max Bernays began construction in December 2017 and William Hall was planned to begin in 2017, with Max Bernays to be delivered by late 2019, and William Hall by early 2020. Frédérick Rolette and Robert Hampton Gray, are planned to be in service by 2021 and 2022, respectively.[13][14][15] Both Harry DeWolf and Margaret Brooke are planned to be retired from service and decommissioned by 2043.[12]

Project history

In 2006 Prime Minister Stephen Harper had spoken about building three to four icebreakers capable of travelling through thick ice in the Arctic Ocean.[16][17][18] In 2007 it was announced that the Canadian Forces would purchase six to eight patrol ships having an ice class of Polar Class 5, meaning that they were capable of limited ice breaking,[19] based on the Svalbard class.[12] This announcement was met with some controversy, and the proposed ships have been called "slush-breakers", by Dr. Gary Stern, a scientist aboard CCGS Amundsen, and Jack Layton of the NDP.[20][21] However, it is notable that of the nineteen Canadian Coast Guard icebreakers currently in service, only six have a polar class higher than PC 5.[22]

In 2010 the Arctic Patrol Ship Project was grouped with several other federal government ship procurement projects for the Royal Canadian Navy and Canadian Coast Guard into the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy (NSPS). The NSPS announced on 19 October 2011 that Irving Shipbuilding would be awarded the $25 billion contract for building six to eight Arctic patrol ships as well as fifteen other warships for the RCN over the next two decades.[23]

In April 2013, the Rideau Institute and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives released a report on the proposed AOPS. The report was written by UBC Professor Michael Byers and Stewart Webb. The report's conclusion was that Canada would be better suited to have purpose built ships, namely icebreakers for the Arctic and offshore patrol vessels for the Pacific and Atlantic coasts.[24] In May, the CBC revealed that the projected cost of the design phase of the project was many times what other countries paid for similar ships based on the same Norwegian class for design, construction, and full-up operational deployment of multiple ships. Design is usually projected to consume 10–20% of the project cost. The projected design cost of the ship class is $288 million, versus an expert cost estimate that they should only cost $10–15 million to design. The Norwegians spent $100 million for the initial design and fielding of the first unit, NoCGV Svalbard. The Danish built two ships for $105 million, and the Irish did the same for $125 million.[25]

In September 2014, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that the name of the first ship in the class would be Harry DeWolf, named in honour of wartime Canadian naval hero Harry DeWolf, and that the class would be named the Harry DeWolf class.[26] In December it was found that not enough money had been projected to cover the cost of building the six to eight planned ships and that the budget would need to be increased, delaying the signing of the contract.[27] However, in an effort to drive down costs, Irving Shipbuilding could only project building five ships with the option to build a sixth only if it came under budget. The budget for the project was increased from $3.1 billion to $3.5 billion to insure a cash buffer.[28]

On 13 April 2015 the government announced a second ship would be named Margaret Brooke in honour of Margaret Brooke. During the Second World War, Brooke, a navy nursing sister, was decorated for her actions during the sinking of the passenger ferry SS Caribou.[29] The third ship will be named Max Bernays for Chief Petty Officer Max Bernays who served aboard HMCS Assiniboine during the Second World War and was decorated for his actions during the sinking of the German submarine U-210.[30] The fourth ship will be named for William Hall, a Victoria Cross (VC) recipient from Nova Scotia and the first black person to be awarded the VC, for his actions during the Siege of Lucknow.[31][32] The fifth ship will be named for Frédérick Rolette, a French-Canadian sailor of the Royal Navy who, during the War of 1812, was second-in-command of the ship Lady Prevost at the Battle of Lake Erie.[33]


On 18 June 2015 it was reported that the construction of test modules for the lead ship of the class Harry DeWolf was underway.[34] The first sections of keel were placed on 11 March 2016, but the official laying of the keel of Harry DeWolf was held on 9 June 2016, marking the first naval construction in Canada since 1998.[35][36] In September 2016, it was announced that construction had begun on Margaret Brooke and that 50 of 64 modular pieces of Harry DeWolf had been completed.[37] On 8 December 2017, the three main sections of Harry DeWolf were fitted into place.[38] The first steel for Max Bernays was cut on 19 December 2017.[39]


The vessels' design was initially intended to incorporate a conventional icebreaking bow for cruising, and would have proceeded backwards for breaking heavy ice. The vessels' stern would have been designed for ice breaking and they would have employed azimuth thrusters for propulsion and for chewing through resistant ice. However, due to cost constraints, a conventional bow-first design was chosen for both light and heavy icebreaking. The propulsion would be provided by diesel-electric twin shafts with bolt-on propellers, similar to existing Canadian Coast Guard icebreakers.

The vessels will have a hangar and flight deck capable of employing and maintaining the same maritime helicopters as the RCN's other vessels: the CH-148 Cyclone when it enters service with the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) and the CH-149 Cormorant.[11]

In 2008, a contract was awarded to BMT Fleet Technology and STX Canada Marine to assist in developing technical specifications and a design for the project. The technical specifications were to be used to draft a Request for Proposals. The government later awarded a design contract to BMT Fleet Technology and STX Canada Marine to develop the design of the vessel for issue to the selected NSPS proponent.

The ships will be built in three large mega blocks; centre, aft and bow. Each mega block will consist of 62 smaller building blocks. The first steel was cut on Harry DeWolf in September 2015.[3]

The ships are designed to displace 6,440 metric tons. They are capable of outfitting multiple payload options such as shipping containers, underwater survey equipment, or a landing craft. The vessels have a 20-tonne crane to self-load/unload, and a vehicle bay to carry vehicles for deployment over the ice. The design also calls for an enclosed cable deck and forecastle to better cope with the Arctic environment. On the open sea, the ship has fin stabilizers to reduce roll that are retractable during ice operations.[4]

Propulsion and power

The vessels have a diesel-electric powertrain with four 3.6-megawatt (4,800 hp) diesel generators producing electricity for two 4.5-megawatt (6,000 hp) propulsion motors.[4]


In August 2015, it was announced that BAE Systems had won the contract to provide up to six modified Mk 38 Mod 2 25 mm cannon for the class. This contract also covers the service life of the weapons.[40]


In September 2015, it was announced that the ships would be outfitted with SAGEM BlueNaute navigational systems.[41] On 7 October 2015, Thales IFF system was selected for use on the class.[42] Terma currently provides its SCANTER 6002 radar system to Lockheed Martin Canada as part of the Combat Management System (CMS 330), which was selected by Irving Shipbuilding Inc. for the Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships (AOPS).[43]

Ships in class

Harry DeWolf class
Ship name Number Builder Laid down Launched Commissioned Status
Harry DeWolf AOPV 430[44] Irving Shipbuilding, Halifax, Nova Scotia 11 March 2016
Margaret Brooke AOPV 431[44] 29 May 2017[45]
Max Bernays AOPV 432[44] 19 December 2017[39]
William Hall AOPV 433[44]
Frédérick Rolette AOPV 434[44]
Robert Hampton Gray[2] AOPV 435

See also


  1. "Harper Government Awards Shipbuilding Contract That Supports Jobs Across Canada" (Press release). Government of Canada. 23 January 2015. Retrieved 9 September 2015.
  2. 1 2 "Robert Hampton Gray (4702553)". Sea-web. Retrieved 2016-05-20.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 Pugliese, David (16 January 2015). "Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships to be constructed in three "mega blocks"". Defence Watch. Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  4. 1 2 3 4 "Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ships". Royal Canadian Navy. January 2015. Retrieved 9 September 2015.
  5. "Dep't of National Defence / Canadian Forces News Release Armed Naval Icebreakers – the Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ships". Canadian American Strategic Review. 10 July 2007. Archived from the original on 9 May 2009. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  6. "Background — AOPS Arctic Offshore Patrol Ship Icebreaker". Canadian American Strategic Review. April 2009. Archived from the original on 9 May 2009. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  7. "Defining and Managing the Canadian Forces Arctic Offshore Patrol Ship Project". Canadian American Strategic Review. June 2008. Archived from the original on 9 May 2009. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  8. "Arctic Offshore Patrol Ship — Proposed Ship Capabilities & Technical Statement of Operational Requirement Features". Canadian American Strategic Review. Archived from the original on 9 May 2009. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  9. "Background – Armed Naval Icebreaker / Arctic Offshore Patrol Ship". Canadian American Strategic Review. Archived from the original on 9 May 2009. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  10. Daly, Stephen (June 2010). "A Pregnant Pause? The National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy Presents an Opportunity to Shift Priorities to Sovereignty Assertion: A Modest Proposal". Canadian American Strategic Review. Archived from the original on 3 December 2011. Retrieved 17 January 2015. Limited as an icebreaker, critics have disparaged AOPS as 'slush breakers' of limited utility. As offshore patrol vessels (OPVs), AOPS are burdened with the vast weight of icebreaking hulls unnecessary for that role. Carrying that extra bulk around in temperate seas mean that AOPS will be relatively slow while fuel costs and similar operating expenses are very high.
  11. 1 2 "Arctic patrol ship could have double acting hullform". Warship Technology. March 2009. Archived from the original on 2009-10-11.
  12. 1 2 3 Travers, James (10 July 2007). "Arctic issues make for good politics". Toronto Star. Archived from the original on 9 May 2009. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  13. "New ships for navy, coast guard". CBC News. 13 November 2013. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  14. "First new Arctic offshore patrol ship to be named HMCS Harry DeWolf". CBC News. 19 September 2014. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  15. Doucette, Keith (19 December 2017). "Construction begins on 3rd Arctic patrol vessel at Halifax Shipyard". CBC News. The Canadian Press. Retrieved 31 January 2018.
  16. "Tories' ambitious defence plan needs more money". CTV News. 18 February 2006. Archived from the original on 9 May 2009. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  17. DeMille, Diane; Priestley, Stephen (22 December 2005). "Stephen Harper announces the new defence policy put forward by the Conservative Party of Canada – Pt 2". Canadian American Strategic Review. Archived from the original on 9 May 2009. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  18. Priestley, Stephen (April 2006). "Armed Icebreakers and Arctic Ports for Canada's North? Costing Three New Canadian Heavy Armed Icebreakers". Canadian American Strategic Review. Archived from the original on 9 May 2009. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  19. O'Connor, Gordon J. (9 July 2007). "Speaking Notes for The Honourable Gordon J. O'Connor, PC, MP Minister of National Defence". Ministry of National Defence. Archived from the original on 5 September 2009. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  20. Kives, Bartley (28 February 2008). "Red Amundsen our flag in white Arctic". Winnipeg Free Press. Archived from the original on February 27, 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-01.
  21. "Canadian Sovereignty". New Democratic Party. Archived from the original on 2009-09-05.
  22. Kendrick, A. (March 2005). "Integration of Polar Classes and Arctic Ice Regime Shipping System". NRC-CNRC. Retrieved 2010-06-14.
  23. Woods, Allan (19 October 2011). "Two winners and one big loser in contest to build military ships". The Star. Toronto. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  24. "Arctic patrol ship headed for "disaster", says report". CBC News. Ottawa. 11 April 2013. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  25. Milewski, Terry (2 May 2013). "Shipbuilding contract holds $250M mystery". CBC News. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  26. "PM announces the name of the first of the Royal Canadian Navy's Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ships". Prime Minister of Canada. 18 September 2014. Archived from the original on 22 September 2014. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  27. Pugliese, David (4 December 2014). "DND to go to Treasury Board for more money for Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships". Defence Watch. Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  28. Cudmore, James (16 January 2015). "Canada's navy to get 5 or 6 Arctic ships, not 8". CBC News. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  29. "New Royal Canadian Navy ship to be named after naval hero of SS Caribou sinking" (Press release). Government of Canada. 13 April 2015. Retrieved 13 April 2015.
  30. Pugliese, David (26 May 2015). "Arctic Offshore Patrol Ship named after naval hero". Defence Watch. Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved 27 May 2015.
  31. "Navy's new patrol ship named after Wolfville naval hero William Hall". CTV News. Canadian Press. 26 June 2015. Retrieved 27 June 2015.
  32. Mellor, Clare (26 June 2015). "New naval ship to be named for William Hall". Chronicle Herald. Retrieved 27 June 2015.
  33. "HMCS Frédérick Rolette name of navy's new Arctic patrol ship". CBC News. 16 July 2015. Retrieved 17 July 2015.
  34. Brooks, Patricia (18 June 2015). "Arctic patrol vessels 'really have started' construction, says Irving president". Chronicle Herald. Retrieved 27 June 2015.
  35. "Timeline". Irving Shipyards. 2016. Archived from the original on 20 December 2016. Retrieved 20 December 2016.
  36. Gunn, Andrea (10 June 2016). "Irving, Royal Canadian Navy celebrate construction milestone with wolf coin". Chronicle Herald. Retrieved 28 September 2016.
  37. "First Arctic patrol ship by Irving is a 'significant challenge': president". Global News. The Canadian Press. 7 September 2016. Retrieved 9 September 2016.
  38. "First Arctic patrol ship clicks into place at Halifax Shipyard". CBC News. The Canadian Press. 8 December 2017. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
  39. 1 2 "Procurement minister cuts first steel for third Arctic patrol vessel". Chronicle Herald. The Canadian Press. 19 December 2017. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
  40. "BAE Systems' Naval Guns Chosen For Canadian Arctic Patrol Ships". BusinessWire. 18 August 2015. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  41. "Sagem's BlueNaute Navigation System Chosen for Canada's New Offshore Patrol Vessels". Newswire Today. 16 September 2015. Retrieved 17 September 2015.
  42. "Thales IFF equipment for Canadian OPVs". shepardmedia.com. 8 October 2015. Retrieved 9 October 2015.
  43. "Toronto-based tech company seizing opportunities as a result of Canada's AOPS program". Irving Shipyard. 16 October 2017. Retrieved 12 November 2017.
  44. 1 2 3 4 5 "Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ships". Royal Canadian Navy. Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  45. "Keel-laying ceremony for HMCS Margaret Brooke marks a shipbuilding milestone" (Press release). Department of National Defence of Canada. 29 May 2017. Retrieved 30 May 2017.
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