Margaret Brooke crew receive Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship

Margaret Brooke (hull 431) is seen alongside HMCS Max Bernays (hull 432) at Irving Shipbuilding’s Halifax facility. Photo courtesy Irving Shipbuilding.

Margaret Brooke (hull 431) is seen alongside HMCS Max Bernays (hull 432) at Irving Shipbuilding’s Halifax facility. Photo courtesy Irving Shipbuilding.


Joanie Veitch, Trident Newspaper

The delivery of the Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship (AOPS) Margaret Brooke on July 15 in Halifax marked an important milestone both for the Royal Canadian Navy and for the ship’s crew.

“The crew of Margaret Brooke finally has a ship to call their own,” said Cdr Nicole Robichaud, Margaret Brooke’s Commanding Officer. “The delivery would not be possible without the dedication of the crew, who have spent the better part of the last year to 18 months training and learning about this ship.”

The second AOPS of six being built through the National Shipbuilding Strategy by Irving Shipbuilding, and its delivery, was a highly anticipated event, Cdr Robichaud added.

“Not only is a new ship entering into service with the Royal Canadian Navy, but a new capability is also being introduced and Margaret Brooke will directly contribute to achieving global Canadian objectives.”

Training in preparation for delivery involved the ship’s company in both computer-based learning and a practical training program at various shore-based facilities, as well as on board HMCS Harry DeWolf, the first AOPS, said LCdr Dusty Allen, Margaret Brooke’s Executive Officer.

“While this training ensures we are well postured to receive the ship, nothing can replace the pride and ownership of having a unit to call your own,” he said, commending the “incredible work ethic, enthusiasm and pride” the ship’s crew have shown.

The journey to delivery day was a rough one at times, with the COVID-19 pandemic introducing numerous challenges.

“COVID has had an impact on everyone, everywhere,” said Cdr Robichaud. “It has affected everything from material, parts, labour, and timelines, to training, morale, personnel requirements, and taskings.”

Irving Shipbuilding, the Canadian shipbuilder and in-service support provider, put the ship through its builder trials in mid-May. Now, with the acceptance of Margaret Brooke, the ship is “one step closer to becoming part of the Fleet,” said Cdr Nicole Robichaud. 

“We are quite fortunate to have had Harry DeWolf complete its post acceptance period so that we can learn from, and improve on practices that are unique to being a new class of ship,” said Cdr Robichaud. “Harry DeWolf has done a great job at blazing the path so that we are not learning everything from scratch.”

The first of the six AOPS, Harry DeWolf, was delivered in August 2020. The third AOPS, Max Bernays, will be launched later in 2021.

A commissioning ceremony for Margaret Brooke is planned for October 2022, tying in with the 80th anniversary of the sinking of the SS Caribou, the steamship passenger ferry that linked Newfoundland to Nova Scotia before it was torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine on Oct. 14, 1942. Nursing Sister LCdr Margaret Brooke who was on the ship and tried to save her friend, Nursing Sister S-Lt Agnes Wilkie, after the sinking. She received a Member (Military Division) of the Order of the British Empire for her efforts becoming the first Canadian woman to receive the award.

She remained a member of the navy until 1962, and was 100 years old when she died on Jan, 9, 2016. On her 100th birthday, April 10, 2015, Minister of National Defence, then Jason Kenney, called her to tell her the second AOPS would bear her name, marking another couple of “firsts” for the former Nursing Sister — the first woman to have a Canadian warship named for her and the first time such a ship was named for a living person.

Margaret Brooke has a busy sailing schedule ahead, and will now officially be Cdr Robichaud’s command at sea.

“We will be sailing for the next year, conducting post-acceptance trials, testing and trialing all aspects of the machinery and equipment, with a plan to participate in Operation Nanook in the fall of 2022,” she said.

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