Western Canada’s first Arctic navy vessel coming to CFB Esquimalt

Western Canada’s first Arctic navy vessel coming to CFB Esquimalt
HMCS Max Bernays/Facebook

A modern Royal Canadian Navy Arctic patrol vessel will arrive at its new home at Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Esquimalt this week.

HMCS Max Bernays will dock at CFB Esquimalt on Monday morning.

The vessel is the third Arctic Offshore Patrol Vessel to enter service in the Royal Canadian Navy, and is the first of its kind to come to Canada’s Pacific fleet.

The ship entered service in 2022 and was designed with versatility in mind, and can be used for coastal surveillance, search and rescue, disaster relief, humanitarian aid, drug interception and supporting international missions, according to the Department of National Defence.

HMCS Max Bernays can also carry a Cyclone helicopter as well as deployable boats, other small vehicles, and has “considerable” cargo space.

The vessel left its previous home of Halifax, NS, on March 11 and travelled through the Panama Canal and up the west coast of North America to reach Vancouver Island.

During the weeks at sea, crews had time to practice emergency drills and small-arms training, as well as visit ports like San Francisco and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

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“One unique part of its transfer from the Atlantic to the Pacific coast is the ship company being a blend of the 55 West and 43 East Coast fleet members working together…” reads part of a social media post by the Royal Canadian Navy on Friday.

Interested Islanders can catch a glimpse of the navy vessel near Esquimalt Harbour around 11 a.m. on Monday.

The name behind the ship

HMCS Max Bernays is named after a Second World War coxswain of the same name, who helped take down a German submarine while manning the bridge of his own Royal Canadian Navy ship single-handedly.

After the helm became surrounded by smoke and flames, he ordered two junior sailors who were with him to get clear while he operated the helm alone.

“Besieged by flames, he executed all the helm orders as [HMCS] Assiniboine maneuvered for position against the U-boat, and did the work of the two telegraphmen, dispatching over 130 telegraph orders to the engine room,” reads the Royal Canadian Navy website.

“Several bullets and shells penetrated the wheelhouse as the enemy concentrated their machine-gun and cannon fire on the bridge.”

HMCS Assiniboine eventually rammed and sank the German U-boat in the Atlantic Ocean, and Bernays was awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal for his actions and courage.

Thirteen Canadians were wounded in the battle, and one was killed.

SEE ALSO: Canadian navy in critical state, could fail to meet readiness commitments: commander

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