Major step in Max Bernays journey to serve

Max Bernays

The ship’s badge for the future HMCS Max Bernays was unveiled during a ceremony on March 30.

Joanie Veitch 
Trident Newspaper

The unveiling of the future HMCS Max Bernays’ badge signified a major step in the Arctic Offshore Patrol Vessel’s (AOPV) progression to serve the Royal Canadian Navy.

Max Bernays will be the first AOPV homeported in Esquimalt.

“Although you will bring the future HMCS Max Bernays to life here in the Atlantic, you will prove her ready for operations in all of Canada’s oceans and bring Max Bernays to her homeport in British Columbia in 2023,” said Capt(N) Sheldon Gillis, Deputy Commander, Canadian Fleet Atlantic, speaking to the ship’s crew at a ceremony in Halifax on March 30. 

The ship’s namesake Acting Chief Petty Officer Max Bernays was a member of the Royal Canadian Naval Reserve. He served as Coxswain of HMCS Assiniboine during the Second World War. On Aug. 6, 1942, during an intense battle with a German submarine, CPO Bernays ordered two junior telegraph officers to clear the bridge before taking the helm. 

Surrounded by smoke and fire, he single-handedly steered the ship and dispatched orders to the engine room, eventually managing to ram and sink the U-boat. He received the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal for his courage.

“The name Max Bernays in our navy is directly associated with the character traits that led the allies to victory at sea: personal courage, loyalty, and integrity, all qualities Max Bernays demonstrated so valiantly under fire from an enemy submarine in 1942,” said Capt(N) Gillis. 

Family members of Max Bernays watched the ceremony online. A letter written by his granddaughter was shared as part of the ceremony. 

“We are a navy family. Max’s son, Max Bernays Junior, continued the naval tradition and joined at 17,” wrote Shannon Bernays. “Grandpa always said that the navy ran in his blood. We know that both of them would have been overjoyed to see the ship and meet her crew. They are undoubtedly watching down filled with pride and excitement… It is our hope that his legacy will serve as an inspiration for years to come. Our family cannot wait to see the ship and visit her crew. It will be a great honour to personally thank them for all they do for Canada.”

Commander Collin Forsberg, Commanding Officer of the future HMCS Max Bernays, thanked the crews of HMCS Harry DeWolf and HMCS Margaret Brooke for sharing their knowledge of the Harry DeWolf-class vessels as the future HMCS Max Bernays crew familiarizes themselves with the ship’s systems and equipment in the lead-up to delivery, expected later this year.

“We’re working on departmental checklists, standard operating procedures, and, of course, working on building up our supplies to be ready to sail the ship,” he said.

Prior to the presentation of the badges, CPO1 Tari Lightwood, the ship’s Coxswain, explained the symbolism in the patch design.

Elements include a red ship’s wheel, in homage to the courage CPO Bernays showed in taking the wheel of HMCS Assiniboine while under fire, and a laurel wreath, as the image of a wreath appears in the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal he received, as well as the hat badge he wore as Acting Chief Petty Officer. 

The colours also have significance, explained CPO1 Lightwood. The red in the image of the ship represent the flames that surrounded the bridge and wheelhouse, and the white and blue of the laurel wreath are the colours of the ribbon on the medal.

“The white background refers to the Arctic environment in which Max Bernays will operate,” she said. 

The future HMCS Max Bernays — the third in the Harry DeWolf-class — was built and launched by Irving Shipbuilding on October 23, 2021, in Halifax. Delivery of the ship to the Royal Canadian Navy is expected later this year.

Max Bernays

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