The Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) has took delivery of the HMCS William Hall, its fourth Harry DeWolf-class Arctic and Offshore Patrol Vessel (AOPV).

The William Hall, is named in honour of William Hall, the first person of African descent, the first Nova Scotian, and the first Canadian naval recipient of the Victoria Cross. 

Operations in the High North have taken on a new significance to Nato, and recent years have seen navies around the world increase or add icebreaker capability as expectations surrounding a future open Arctic Sea during the Summer month has crystallised. In November last year Russia raised the flag on the first of two new nuclear-powered ice-breakers, the most powerful currently employed anywhere in the world, and construction is underway on three more of these vessels for the Russian navy. 

The Harry DeWolf-Class vessels acquired by the RCN were designed ‘to assert and uphold Arctic sovereignty ‘ according to a Canadian government announcement on 31 August. They are used to patrol and monitor arctic-climate waters, and have an icebreaking capacity by necessity. The AOPV offers considerable sealift capabilities and will support the RCN in a range of domestic operations in the Arctic, including the transportation of cargo, small vehicles and deployable boats. 

“Today’s delivery of our fourth Arctic and Offshore Patrol Vessel, HMCS William Hall, brings the Royal Canadian Navy ever closer to achieving our full fleet of six modern, ice-capable ships,” said Vice-Admiral Angus Topshee, Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy. “Each of the AOPV represents an advanced capability and skillset for the Navy, and our allies, and we are proud that this ship will soon be officially welcomed into the RCN Fleet.” 

The total value of the Harry DeWolf-class AOPS programme is estimated at $2bn, according to GlobalData’s ‘Canada Defense Market 2022-2027’ report. The two remaining ships to be delivered will be modified coast guard variants, with delivery planned for a new ship every year until 2025.

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The William Hall should be fully commissioned next year, following sea trials, post delivery evaluation tasks, and warm and cold weather trials. The first ship in this class, HMCS Harry DeWolf, was deployed in 2021, and between the first three vessels these ships have seen multiple deployments to to Canada’s Arctic areas, the South-Eastern Pacific Ocean, and the Caribbean Sea, as well as in the response to Hurricane Fiona in Newfoundland.