Sixth ship named after aviation war hero

Photo credit: Nelson Museum, Nelson BC

Photo credit: Nelson Museum, Nelson BC

National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces ~

The Royal Canadian Navy’s sixth Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship (AOPS) will be named in honour of Lieutenant Robert Hampton Gray, a Canadian naval hero of the Second World War.

Lt Gray joined the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve in 1940, and served as a pilot in the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm. He embarked on HMS Formidable with 1841 Squadron, which joined the war in the Pacific as part of Operation Iceberg in April 1945.

He was awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously, for courage and determination in carrying out daring air strikes on the Japanese destroyer HIJMS Amakusa. On Aug. 9, 1945, he led two flights of Corsair aircraft to attack naval vessels in Onagawa Bay. He opened the attack run flying straight into concentrated anti-aircraft fire, and was hit almost immediately. With his aircraft on fire, and one bomb lost, he continued the attack and released his remaining bomb on the escort vessel HIJMS Amakusa, causing the ship to capsize and sink. His aircraft then crashed into the sea, and his body was never recovered.

“Lieutenant Gray was known to his fellow military members as a courageous leader, with a brilliant flying spirit, who continued to inspire and motivate his crew after his unfortunate passing,” said Vice-Admiral Art McDonald, Commander Royal Canadian Navy. “By naming the sixth Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship after Lt Gray, we honour him as a Canadian naval hero, and celebrate his outstanding leadership and heroism.”

The other five AOPS are named Harry DeWolf, Margaret Brooke, Max Bernays, William Hall, and Frédérick Rolette.

The Harry DeWolf-class will be capable of armed sea-borne surveillance of Canada’s waters, providing government situational awareness of activities and events in these regions, and cooperating with partners to assert and enforce Canadian sovereignty.


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