Tuesday, 8 June 2021


HMCS HARRY DEWOLF alongside in November 2020.

Back in January, I was fortunate enough to receive a tour of the future* HMCS HARRY DEWOLF and to interview her Commanding Officer, Cdr Corey Gleason, to support a two-piece article in the April and May editions of Warships IFR magazine. Now that both pieces have been published, I can provide a short tour of the ship.

*HARRY DEWOLF is scheduled to commission this summer, and as such, would normally not be referred to as "Her Majesty's Canadian Ship" until that happens. However, the Navy has decided to simplify things in the interim and simply refer to her as HMCS HARRY DEWOLF, and so I shall do so from here on, or will simply refer to her as HARRY DEWOLF.

HARRY DEWOLF alongside in late-December, during the departure ceremony for HMCS HALIFAX for a NATO tour.

HARRY DEWOLF is the lead ship in a class of 6 Arctic and Offshore Patrol Vessels (AOPV) being built for the Navy, plus two more ships that will be adapted for the Canadian Coast Guard. These multi-mission ships are primary intended to fill the patrol mission and free up the Navy's surface combatants for higher intensity roles, but they are also designed to be as modular and flexible as possible, to allow them to fill many other roles as well.

Although a cold day, the day of my tour was sunny so at least my photos are fairly well lit. One notable feature of the ship, and indeed a feature not found on any other class of RCN vessel, is the enclosed forecastle (or foc'st'le). This allows the crew to handle the bow lines from an enclosed space while operating in inclement conditions - the four square-ish ports above the three fairleads can be opened to allow the crew some visibility outside, but heaters inside will keep them warm.

The interior of the enclosed foc'st'le, viewed from a mezzanine platform within the two-storey space.

Another view from within the enclosed foc'st'le, but this time from floor level.

The fairlead in the centre of the image is on the bow centreline, and some of the square ports can be seen on either side of the space. Several of the heaters can also be seen, along with a number of winches and the cable handling gear for the two anchors.

HARRY DEWOLF alongside on the day of my tour.

At the rear of the ship on the quarterdeck, behind and below the flight deck, there is another feature not normally seen onboard an RCN warship - there is a 20-tonne crane on the port side, along with a smaller 3-tonne crane on the starboard side. The former is necessary to handle not only the various containerized equipment or cargo that HARRY DEWOLF can carry, but also to handle the ship's landing craft.

HARRY DEWOLF's landing craft.

In addition to the landing craft on the quarterdeck, the ship has dedicated recessed bays for four small boats including two fully-enclosed lifeboats (the orange object in the rear bay seen in the alongside views of the ship above) plus two Rigid-Hulled Inflatable Boats (RHIBs) in the two forward bays (also visible in the alongside photos above). 

To support the deployment of small boats from these ships, the staging compartment beside the RHIB bays are even fitted with drying racks for wet suits (though presumably they could also be used for foul weather gear). 

Wet suit drying racks just inboard of the RHIB bay.

Under the landing craft's bow ramp is a small V-shaped bow.

Just ahead of the landing craft is a small hangar for the types of wheeled vehicles that HARRY DEWOLF will need to deploy shore while working in the Arctic.

Looking forward at the small vehicle hangar, located underneath the ship's helicopter landing deck.

The quarterdeck has dedicated stowage locations for containers - both storage containers as well as containerized mission packages, such as the containerized towed array that was onboard for tests when I toured the ship. In future, containers could be embarked to provide the Canadian Hydrographic Service with survey equipment, or to support numerous other missions.

Two decks up is the ship's flight deck and helicopter hangar. Designed to operate the CH-148 Cyclone helicopter, the ship is fitted for (but not with) the "Beartrap" or RAST helicopter-hauldown  and traverse system - this is the system fitted (in various iterations) to the RCN's helicopter-capable frigates and destroyers since the 1960s to allow the ships to operate helicopters in a wide range of weather conditions and sea states. From my discussion with Cdr Gleason, I assume that the Navy will see how these ships handle at sea before deciding whether to fit this system - after all, these ships are slightly larger than the Halifax-class frigates, and may be more stable at sea if handled properly.

On either side of the flight deck's forward end are two refueling stations for underway replenishment - the jackstays are not permanently installed, and must be erected and struck down each time they are used.

Flight deck and hangar. The Beartrap track can be seen running along the deck and into the hangar, and the port lifeboat can be seen here. Flying Control (FlyCo)  can be seen directly above the hangar.

A close-up of FlyCo.

An aerial view of the flight deck.

FlyCo interior.

The view from FlyCo. The two joysticks are the controls for the flight deck firefighting nozzles.

The ship is fitted with a larger, roomy, and modern bridge.

The bridge looking to port.

Cdr Corey Gleason standing on the starboard bridge "wing". 

The ship doesn't have overhanging bridge wings - as nice as they would have been - and I seem to recall a comment to the effect that they would have made the ship too wide to fit into seaway locks. Immediately aft of the bridge is the Multi-Purpose Operations Space, or MPOS. In addition to filling the requirement for an Ops room from which the ship's military missions can be commanded, the MPOS can be tasked to support numerous purposes - for instance, an embarked team of hydrographers from the Canadian Hydrographic Service could control a hydrographic survey, or a non-government organization could be embarked to coordinate a relief mission ashore after a natural disaster. The bridge is large and flexible enough that the Navy crew can dedicate the MPOS to such an embarked team while using the bridge as a temporary Ops room. 

The bridge overlooks the 25mm gun.

While the size of the ship's gun seems to have many detractors, Cdr Gleason praises its tracking and targeting abilities, and points out that it is well suited to the HARRY DEWOLF's constabulary role. IT is important to remember that these ships are designed and built to civilian standards, and are not built as true warships. The stowed davit can be erected over the hatch to the right of the gun, and is used to bring up ammunition to the gun.

The interior of the ships is not what the Navy's previous generations of sailors would have been used to - the level of habitability in these ships is a large improvement over past classes of ships. The accommodations as well are much improved.

The Commanding Officer's day cabin.

Another view of the CO's day cabin.

An officer's cabin.

The ship's wardroom. Due to COVID-19, the ship's crew wore masks whenever and wherever they could not socially distance.

A Petty Officer's cabin.

One of the ship's briefing rooms.

The ship's cafeteria.


Ship's hospital.

Ship's hospital.

Workstations within the Met Tech's (or Meteorological Technicians) office.

The ship's Machinery Control Room, or MCR.

Control terminals within the MCR.

The ship's aft engine room.

The ship's diesel-electric powerplant is equipped with four diesel generators in two engine rooms that in turn generate power to run the two electric motors that power the ship's fixed propellers. Apart from submarines, the Navy's ships are not diesel-electric - for instance, in the Halifax-class frigates, power goes directly from either the propulsion diesel or the two gas turbines to the variable pitch propellers via a gearbox. These ships were provided with a diesel electric power plant as it is preferred for ice breaking.

I will finish off with some more exterior views of the ship.

For more information on these ships and for my interview with Cdr Gleason, please check out the April and May issues of Warships IFR magazine. For obvious reasons, I have not reproduced most of the interview content here.

April issue cover.

May issue cover.

Friday, 4 June 2021


HMCS SACKVILLE has been inside the Submarine Maintenance Shed at HMC Dockyard for most of the last 8 month, undergoing a refit to reclad the hull below the waterline in new steel plating. This work is intended to extend the life of the hull for another 10 years to allow the Canadian Naval Memorial Trust to raise enough money to completely replate the ship's hull (i.e. remove all existing plate, and replace with new 1/2 steel plate) in order to ensure the long term viability of the ship. With the refit mostly complete, the ship was relaunched on June 2nd.

The operation started several days prior in order to fill various ballast tanks within the ship. 

The shed doors open on Wednesday morning.

The shed doors are open, and the ship is ready to roll out.

The ship is mounted on bogeys which in turn rest on the rails in the photo, and a diesel-powered mule at the bow of the ship pulls itself along the chain to push the ship onto the lift. 

The diesel mule pushing the ship out.

The ship viewed from further out on the Syncrolift.

The ship was pushed out onto the Syncrolift platform - the rails are supported by steel beams that are slung between winches on each side of the platform (seen here under the blue covers). 

From left to right: Past CNMT Chair Wendell Brown, Bob Naugler of FMFCS, CPO1 Tom Lizotte, Capt (N) Michel Thibault, Rear Admiral Brian Santarpia, and CNMT Chair Bill Woodburn.

Once in position on the lift, lines were rigged, and more water was pumped into the ship's ballast tanks, and the lift was prepared to be lowered into the water. 

Some of the ship's many zinc anodes can be seen on either side of the stern tube (where the propeller shaft emerges from the hull). 

The lift began to drop the ship into the harbour after 12:30pm. 

Water has just emerged from the gaps between the planks on the lift platform around the ship.

The ship was then pushed to the side of the camber, and two tugs arrived to perform the cold move of the ship to her Dockyard berth.

Tugs are alongside the ship.

Cold move of the ship.

SACKVILLE approaching her berth in Dockyard.

Some work remains before the ship is completely ready for the summer - the mast needs to be re-stepped, and various fittings and equipment need to be brought back onboard. It is hoped that the ship can return to the Halifax Waterfront before the end of June. If the restrictions around COVID-19 allow, the ship will be open to the public.

A comprehensive gallery of photos of both the 2020-2021 and 2018 refits can be found on my Smugmug website: https://smcclearn.smugmug.com/Nautical/Hoisting-SACKVILLE/