HMCS Victoria legacy celebrated in new morale patch


Peter Mallett
Staff Writer

Twenty years ago, the first of four Victoria-Class submarines was commissioned into the Royal Canadian Navy.

It was a cold Dec. 2 day in Halifax when Cdr Bill Woodburn, HMCS Victoria’s commanding officer, declared the occasion “a great moment in Canadian history and a great navy day.”

This year, to celebrate the submarine’s 20th anniversary, a morale patch has been created for Victoria’s submariners to wear on their uniforms starting Jan. 1, 2021. 

“The idea for the morale patch started last year with our sailors wanting to commemorate the service of everyone who served in Victoria over the last two decades,” said LCdr Eric Isabelle, Victoria’s current commanding officer. “The design of the patch will also serve as a reminder of Victoria’s previous service as HMS Unseen.”

The submarine first served the Royal Navy until it was purchased by Canada in 1998.

MS Allan Gauthier, one of Victoria’s Weapons Engineering Technicians, created the patch design. He sketched his idea, and then turned it into a painting before submitting it to senior leadership for approval.

“It’s quite an honour, humbling, and also intriguing to know my artwork has a legacy that will last forever,” said MS Gauthier. “A morale patch is memorabilia that sailors and their families will hold on to forever. I wanted a chance to make something that stands out, something that is unique and completely different.”

Central to the patch is shield depicting a heraldic golden lion  – a nod to HMS Unseen and its British heritage – holding Victoria’s crown, which is central to the submarine’s badge. It is designed like a family crest with the shield surrounded by maple leaves. At the top are Roman numerals XX denoting 20 years of service; at the bottom in a gold ribbon is HMCS Victoria.

Patches are intended to boost morale and unit pride. LCdr Isabelle says they are authorized for wear on the right shoulder of naval combat dress so long as they are in good taste, do not violate copyright, and follow specific dress guidelines.


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