Above image: His Majesty’s Canadian Ship William Hall, left. William Hall VC, right.
The Royal Canadian Navy received its fourth Arctic and Offshore Patrol Vessel (AOPV) a few short weeks ago.
His Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) William Hall was delivered to the Royal Canadian Navy fleet on August 31, 2023, and is expected to undergo several trials to test its durability.
The new vessel is the namesake of sailor and Victoria Cross recipient William Hall. Hall was the first person of African descent, the first Nova Scotian and the first Canadian naval recipient of the Victoria Cross.
“Today, we celebrate the next important milestone for the National Shipbuilding Strategy and the Royal Canadian Navy with the arrival of our fourth new Arctic and Offshore Patrol Vessel, HMCS William Hall. This new asset to Canada’s fleet has been made possible by the vital work of our shipbuilders and the thousands of Canadians that have contributed to the construction of this new ship. We will continue to provide the Royal Canadian Navy with the ships needed to protect our country, while creating good jobs for Canadians,” said Bill Blair, Minister of National Defence, on the delivery of the ship on August 31.
William Nielson Hall
Hall was born on April 25, 1827, in Horton Bluff, NS (now Wolfville, NS) His parents were enslaved in the United States. However, at the end of the War of 1812, they escaped to Halifax, eventually settling in Horton, where his father, Jacob, took on the surname of his employer, Windsor merchant Peter Hall.
William followed the sea at 17 when he left Nova Scotia on board a merchant vessel. Having served years in the merchant navy, Hall joined the United States Navy in 1847. He returned to the life of a merchant sailor in 1849 until he joined the British Royal Navy in 1852.
During the Crimean War, he served as part of a naval brigade that operated heavy gun batteries on land. He was also involved in the siege of Sevastopol and the Indian Mutiny. He and three crew members were awarded the Victoria Cross for their heroic response at Lucknow, India, in 1857 while serving on the frigate HMS Shannon.
Hall and an officer, Lieutenant Thomas Young, faced intense fire as the two men stood with a 24-pounder gun, carrying out drills that typically required half a dozen people. The men worked together to breach a mosque that rebels had seized.
Hall retired as a petty officer first class in 1876, when he returned to Nova Scotia. He lived with his two sisters in a small farmhouse near Hantsport, NS, until he passed away in 1904.
HMCS William Hall is the fourth of six AOPVs for the Royal Canadian Navy.
After accepting delivery of the AOPV, the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) will conduct sea trials, warm and cold weather trials, and other “post-delivery evaluation tasks,” according to the Department of National Defence.
The full commissioning ceremony for HMCS William Hall is expected to take place sometime next year after successful conclusion of the trials.
“Today’s delivery of our fourth Arctic and Offshore Patrol Vessel, HMCS William Hall, brings the Royal Canadian Navy ever closer to achieving our full fleet of six modern, ice-capable ships. Each of the AOPV represents an advanced capability and skillset for the Navy, and our allies, and we are proud that this ship will soon be officially welcomed into the RCN Fleet,” said VAdm. Angus Topshee, Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy.
The ship is expected to remain at His Majesty’s Canadian Dockyard Halifax during the trials and final preparations before the commissioning.
Importance of AOPVs
According to DND, the AOPVs provide the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) with significant enhancements in the Arctic regions.
The DND states: “With its considerable space to transport cargo, small vehicles, and deployable boats, the AOPV brings versatility and support to a wide range of domestic CAF operations with the ability to support global peace and security in coordination with our allies and partners.”
Since the delivery of the first AOPV in 2021, HMCS Harry DeWolf, the ships have been on multiple deployments to various regions, including Canada’s Arctic regions, the South-Eastern Pacific Ocean, and the Caribbean Sea. They were also deployed to the Hurricane Fiona response in Newfoundland.
HMCS William Hall joins HMCS Harry DeWolf, HMCS Margaret Brooke and HMCS Max Bernays, which have already been delivered to the Royal Canadian Navy.
According to DND, the ships will be affiliated with regions of the Inuit Nunangat. HMCS Harry DeWolf is affiliated with the Qikiqtani Inuit of Nunavut, and HMCS Margaret Brooke is affiliated with Nunatsiavut.
The fifth and sixth AOPVs, HMCS Frederick Rolette and HMCS Robert Hampton Gray are in different stages of production and will be delivered to the RCN over the next couple of years.