Above image: left, the Robert Hampton Gray will be a sister-ship to first-in-class Harry DeWolf, pictured here during its delivery to the Government of Canada on July 31, 2020, in Halifax. Right, Lieutenant (Lt) Robert Hampton Gray was the only member of the Royal Canadian Navy to be awarded the Victoria Cross during the Second World
The Royal Canadian Navy’s (RCN) sixth Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship (AOPS) was named in honour of Lieutenant (Lt) Robert Hampton Gray, a Canadian naval hero of the Second World War, on August 10.
In 1940, Lt Robert Hampton Gray joined the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve and served as a pilot in the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm.
Lt Gray 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 August 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 used his remaining bomb to sink escort vessel, HIJMS Amakusa.
Moments after the attack, his aircraft crashed into the sea, and his body was never recovered. He was the only RCN member to be awarded the Victoria Cross during the Second World War.
Vice-Admiral Art McDonald, Commander Royal Canadian Navy, says, “Lt 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. 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 RCN named this class of ships after prominent Canadian naval figures for the first time in its 110-year history, proudly honouring their leadership, achievements, and heroism.