Canadian Navy

12/02/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 12/02/2021 09:00

New commander named for third AOPS

By Peter Mallett

A new commanding officer has been named for the third Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship (AOPS) - the future Her Majesty's Canadian Ship (HMCS) Max Bernays, which was launched October 23, 2021, by Irving Shipbuilding in Halifax.

In January 2022, Commander (Cdr) Collin Forsberg is set to take the helm of the ship, named after Chief Petty Officer (CPO) Max Bernays, a Canadian naval hero who served as the Coxswain of His Majesty's Canadian Ship Assiniboine during the Second World War's Battle of the Atlantic.

"I have been interested in the AOPS program for several years and was fortunate at this point in my career to be selected for this amazing opportunity," says Cdr Forsbert, who is currently the officer-in-charge of Patrol Vessel Sea Training (Pacific) in Esquimalt, B.C. "It helped that my position with Sea Training allowed me to sail with the Navy's first AOPS [HMCS Harry DeWolf] for its readiness training program."

He will travel to Halifax in January to begin assembling a crew.

Maritime Forces Atlantic sailors will primarily make up the training crew, says Commodore David Mazur, Commander Canadian Fleet Pacific.

"To avoid having Pacific sailors separated from their families for up to two years, the intent is to have a few key West Coasters go [east] early, with much of the initial trials crew coming from the East Coast."

Cdr Forsberg's key responsibilities are delivering the ship into service after post-acceptance trials and readiness training.

Initial cadre training is expected to last four months. It involves two phases: sailors becoming familiar with the intricate details of their new ship, some of it provided through computer models and training simulators, and their trade-specific learning.

The new ship's captain will also oversee procuring and installing equipment not provided by the ship builder, sea trials and executing the readiness training program.

The final leg of delivering the vessel to the Royal Canadian Navy, transfer to a West Coast crew, official commissioning and repositioning Max Bernays to Esquimalt, B.C., will then occur.

Cdr Forsberg is in his 19th year of military service. He previously worked as a staff officer for the Strategic Joint Staff at National Defence Headquarters in 2014, and later the Chief of Force Development Office. In 2017, he commanded Esquimalt-based Kingston-class vessels HMC Ships Brandon and Whitehorse.

As for HMCS Max Bernays itself, it carries a name that is legendary in Canadian naval history. On August 6, 1942, after telling two junior sailors to get clear, CPO Bernays single-handedly battled raging flames and enemy machine gun fire to steer HMCS Assiniboine directly into the path of German submarine U-210, ramming and sinking the vessel.

During the hard-fought action, the Canadians suffered one fatality and 13 wounded. CPO Bernays was awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal for his courage and dauntless devotion to duty during the battle.