HMCS Max Bernays Arrives in New Homeport

Marking a significant moment in the history of the Royal Canadian Navy, His Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Max Bernays arrived at its new homeport in Esquimalt, British Columbia.

As the first Harry DeWolf-class vessel to permanently join Canada’s Pacific Fleet, the Navy command says, HMCS Max Bernays arrival on April 15, 2024, is a pivotal milestone in the expansion of the Royal Canadian Navy’s Arctic and Offshore Patrol fleet.

HMCS Max Bernays arrived in its new homeport in Esquimalt, British Columbia. HMCS Max Bernays is the first Harry DeWolf-class vessel to permanently join Canada’s Pacific Fleet. Photos: Cpl Will Gosse.  Image Twitter Canadian Armed Forces on Twitter / X.

Historical Moment

“Welcoming a new ship is a significant and historical moment, said Rear-Admiral Christopher Robinson, Commander of Maritime Forces Pacific. “I am extremely proud of the ship’s crew and their Commanding Officer, not only for their dedication during months of preparation but also their recent efforts to bring their ship all the way from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific. This class of ship has already demonstrated significant capabilities and will allow the Navy to expand its presence and capabilities in waters off the West Coast and around the globe.”

The press release noted introducing HMCS Max Bernays to Maritime Forces Pacific enhances the Royal Canadian Navy’s ability to enforce sovereignty in Canada’s western waters to better meet future defence challenges in the North.

“These multifunctional ships will be at the core of an enhanced Arctic presence and will strategically complement the capabilities of our current and future warships through surveillance operations.”

Shannon Bernays, sponsor of HMCS Max Bernays, at the officially naming the ship at the joint Naming Ceremony of HMCS Margaret Brooke and HMCS Max Bernays at Halifax Shipyard in 2022. Image courtesy of the CAF. 

First of Two Arctic and Offshore Patrol Vessel

HMCS Max Bernays, built by Irving Shipbuilding Inc. in Halifax, Nova Scotia, under the National Shipbuilding Strategy, was launched into the water on October 23, 2021, and the ship’s delivery occurred on September 2, 2022. The future HMCS Robert Hampton Gray will eventually become the second Arctic and Offshore Patrol Vessel to make the transfer between coasts.

“Our arrival in Esquimalt was made possible thanks to the diligent effort and hard work done by the crew of HMCS Max Bernays,” said Commander Collin Forsberg, Commanding Officer of HMCS Max Bernays. The combined east and west coast ship’s company has been working side by side for many months preparing for this coastal transfer, while also building the ship knowledge of all sailors to a new class of ship. The significance of the ship’s arrival is not lost on our sailors – HMCS Max Bernays has finally joined Canada’s Pacific fleet. For those serving onboard this amazing ship, it will be an incredibly exciting transition.”

All currently serving members of the Harry DeWolf class are equipped to provide an armed presence for surveillance operations and contribute to humanitarian assistance, emergency response, and disaster relief in operations both domestically and abroad.

The ship is named after RCN member Chief Petty Officer Max Bernays, who served aboard HMCS Assiniboine during the Second World War. Bernays served as the Coxswain aboard his ship during the Battle of the Atlantic. The official naming ceremony for this ship was held in May 2022.

Ship’s Namesake

HMCS Max Bernays is named in honour of Chief Petty Officer Max Bernays, a Canadian naval hero who served as the Coxswain of HMCS Assiniboine during the Second World War’s Battle of the Atlantic.

CPO Bernays was awarded the distinguished Conspicuous Gallantry Medal (CGM) by the British Admiralty for his valour and dauntless devotion to duty during action. He was one of only two members of the RCN to receive the CGM during the Second World War.

Upon her arrival in Canada on Friday 3rd May, The Princess Royal attended the Commissioning Ceremony for the HMCS Max Bernays – the Canadian Pacific Fleet’s first Arctic and Offshore Patrol Vessel. Image courtesy of the Royal Canadian Navy.

Commissioning Ceremony

Commissioned on May 3, 2024, a ship’s commissioning ceremony is a long-standing naval tradition and a special event for the ship’s company and Canadian Fleet Pacific.

HMCS Max Bernays is the RCN’s third Arctic and Offshore Patrol Vessel. The ship has the honour of being the first ship of its class to be attached to Canada’s Pacific Fleet in Esquimalt, British Columbia.

“It is a great day for our Pacific Fleet and the Royal Canadian Navy as a whole as we officially welcome our first Arctic and Offshore Patrol Vessel to the West Coast and into service with Canada’s Navy. Achieving this naval tradition today is a testament to the dedication and commitment of HMCS Max Bernays’ captain and crew, as well as those who built the ship and prepared it for service. This highly capable warship will enable the Navy to expand its presence throughout our Arctic and across the Pacific,” said Vice-Admiral Angus Topshee, Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy, in a press release.

To mark the milestone occasion, Her Royal Highness Princess Anne attended in her role as Commodore-in-Chief Canadian Fleet Pacific and presented the commissioning pennant to the ship.

“The commissioning of HMCS Max Bernays included a symbolic presentation of the “keys to the ship” to the Commanding Officer, Commander Collin Forsberg, along with the breaking of the ship’s commissioning pennant and three cheers by the ship’s company,” noted the press release.

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