10/18/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 10/19/2021 13:03
Canada's first Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship recently ticked off two major milestones for the history books. As of September 12, 2021, Her Majesty's Canadian Ship (HMCS) Harry DeWolf completed its first operational deployment, Operation Nanook2021, and was the first its class to sail through northern waters.
For HMCS Harry DeWolf, Op Nanook - Canada's signature northern operation which consists of a series of comprehensive activities designed to exercise the defence of Canada and to secure our northern regions - was no ordinary deployment as this particular voyage presented an opportunity for the crew to interact with an element of Canadiana. The ship and its crew charted its northern course via an historic route born from a tragic beginning. For the first time since HMCS Labrador's northern voyage in 1954, a Royal Canadian Navy ship sailed westward through the Davis Strait to the Beaufort Sea, and successfully traversed a path through the fabled Northwest Passage - the same route taken by the infamous 1945-46 Franklin Expedition, which was lost with all hands in the very same area.
"Having the opportunity to sail the same route that the ill-fated Franklin Expedition did some 76 years ago is like having a classroom at your doorstep," says Commander (Cdr) Corey Gleason, Commanding Officer of HMCS Harry DeWolf. "Honing our skills as mariners during Op Nanook, and also being exposed to history and the beauty and culture of the Arctic - it has been a great experience for all onboard."
Throughout the operation, HMCS Harry DeWolf demonstrated the ability of both its crew and the Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships to operate in northern waters. Alongside HMCS Goose Bay and ships from the Canadian Coast Guard and the United States Coast Guard, Harry DeWolf participated in exercises that simulated responses to a major maritime incident.
The ship's crew also gained invaluable knowledge from training and working alongside four RCMP personnel and one United States Navy member embarked for the operation. Understanding how our domestic and international partners operate in the challenging Arctic environment only adds to the capacity to deploy and operate in the region.
"The Arctic has an incredibly beautiful yet unforgiving place," says Lieutenant(Navy) Tania Noel-Giroux, "Getting the chance to work alongside our American and RCMP colleagues in this setting has been incredible."
The strongest links made, however, were the new relations forged between HCMS Harry DeWolf crewmembers and citizens of local communities visited along the route, which included Pond Inlet, Grise Fjord, Arctic Bay, Cambridge Bay and Kugluktuk, Nunavut. These sailors were humbled and proud to introduce the first-in-class Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship to its affiliated communities within the Qikiqtani region of Nunavut. Sailors hosted community barbeques and intently listened to locals' stories of their culture and way of life, and welcomed community members, leaders and elders aboard for ship tours. Cdr Gleason often invited visitors to sit in his captain's chair.
"This is your ship," Cdr Gleason would explain. "Whenever you see the number 430 come into your community, know that we are here for you. It would be my dream for one of you to sail aboard this ship, or even sit in this chair someday."
Operation Nanook 2021 ran from August 3 to September 12, 2021, which marks only the beginning for HMCS Harry DeWolf's ongoing deployment - the circumnavigation of North America.
Next up for the ship is a short stopover in Esquimalt, B.C., in October, before Harry DeWolf sets sail for Operation Caribbe, Canada's participation in U.S.-led enhanced counter-narcotics operations in the Caribbean Sea and the eastern Pacific Ocean, later this fall.
Throughout Op Nanook and the rest of HMCS Harry DeWolf's deployment, all Canadian Armed Forces personnel adhere to Department of National Defence and Territorial COVID-19 health orders and restrictions.