Gun art adorns HMCS Ottawa, nod to the past

HMCS Ottawa gun art

SLt R. Bailey, Contributer ~

The Royal Canadian Navy in the Second World War was one of the largest fleets in the world. The hours were long, the environment unforgiving, and looming danger threatened at all times.

Yet in these inhospitable circumstances a tradition was born: a tradition of naval gun shield art. The pride in one’s unit, the cohesiveness of the entire ship’s team, and the overall creativity of the individuals were on display in the chosen gun art.

Each was unique; each had its own story.

HMCS Ottawa is proud to continue this tradition on its new Bofors Mk III 57mm Gun Weapon System.

The art work was designed by Chief Petty Officer Second Class Chris Fraser while serving onboard Ottawa, and applied by Fleet Maintenance Facility Cape Breton. It features a red griffin holding a 57mm high explosive round. Above the griffin is a banner commemorating the 20th anniversary of HMCS Ottawa, which is being celebrated this year.

CPO2 Fraser drew his inspiration for the design from the three past HMC ships that bore the name Ottawa, particularly the G-class destroyer that served in the Second World War and had been named HMS Griffin prior to being transferred to Canada.

When asked what led him to spearhead this project, CPO2 Fraser says he felt something was missing as he watched the gun was being lowered onto the fo’c’sle after Ottawa’s midlife refit. It lacked the uniqueness that helps define the spirit of the ship and its crew, he added. Having painted gun art on HMCS Whitehorse in the past, CPO2 Fraser once again felt it was time to rekindle this prized naval tradition.

The entire HMCS Ottawa team has shown a level of professionalism and pride in accomplishing the mission through a busy trial period. This gun art symbolizes that effort and displays to the Fleet that the Ottawa team is ready for the upcoming challenges.

Each member of the crew can take pride in viewing and showing off the gun art, designed by the crew, for the crew.

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  1. Lt(N) Nicholas CM Armstrong, RCN says:

    This is a fantastic tribute to HMS GRIFFON which became the second HMCS OTTAWA, back during WWII. BZ to CPO2 Fraser for taking the initiative to have this gun art painted on OTTAWA’s gunshield.

    Two items of interest regarding when GRIFFON was handed over to the RCN to become OTTAWA: The first is that she was actually commissioned as HMCS GRIFFON for almost six weeks until the government decided she ought to replace the first OTTAWA which was torpedoed in 1942.

    The second is that her commanding officer, Cdr Hugh Pullen opposed the renaming and wanted to keep her original name. Even though he was overruled, he kept the griffon emblem from her RN service attached to her aft funnel as a reminder of her original name.

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