The Navy’s female athlete of the year is “en garde” for gold!

Bravo Zulu to Lieutenant(N) Chantel Helwer from HMCS Chippawa in Winnipeg, an elite-level fencer recently named the Royal Canadian Navy’s Female Athlete of the Year.

In 2013, Lt(N) Helwer won the silver medal at the Canadian University Championships which qualified her to compete at the World Championships in Hungary that same year. In yet another amazing accomplishment, Lt(N) Helwer has just been named to Team Canada for the 2014 Commonwealth Fencing Championships, taking place this November in Scotland.

This year, other fencing competitions will take her to Venezuela, China, Europe and the U.S. She will also assume the role of team captain for the International Military Sports Council women’s sabre team, which will be participating in the 2015 World Military Games in South Korea.

If that wasn’t enough, Lt(N) Helwer also finds time to study law at the University of Manitoba when she’s not tending to her Naval Reserve duties or fencing.

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RCN’s Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ships named Harry DeWolf Class

Vice-Admiral Harry DeWolf
Vice-Admiral Harry DeWolf

Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the name of the first of the Royal Canadian Navy’s (RCN) Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ships (AOPS) yesterday in Hamilton, Ontario.

Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Harry DeWolf is named in honour of a wartime Canadian naval hero. HMCS Harry DeWolf is the first of the AOPS designed to better enable the RCN to exercise sovereignty in Canadian waters, including in the Arctic.

The AOPS will be known as the Harry DeWolf Class, with HMCS Harry DeWolf as the lead ship. Subsequent ships in the class will be named to honour other prominent Canadian naval heroes who served their country with the highest distinction. This is the first time in its 104-year history that the RCN is naming a class of ships after a prominent Canadian naval figure.

A native of Bedford, Nova Scotia, Vice-Admiral Harry DeWolf (RCN) was decorated for outstanding service throughout his naval career, which included wartime command of HMCS St. Laurent from 1939-40, and later, his 1943-44 command of HMCS Haida, known as the “Fightingest Ship in the RCN.” Yesterday’s announcement was made at HMCS Haida, which now serves as a museum ship on the Hamilton waterfront.

Canada defends more coastline than any other country, as it is bounded by three oceans. The AOPS will conduct sovereignty and surveillance operations in Canadian waters on all three coasts, including in the Arctic. The AOPS will also be used to support other units of the Canadian Armed Forces in the conduct of maritime-related operations and to support other government departments in carrying out their mandates, as required.

The AOPS will be built by Irving Shipbuilding Inc. in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

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Royal Canadian Navy begins transition to the future fleet

HMCS Algonquin
HMCS Algonquin

As the Royal Canadian Navy undergoes its most extensive peacetime modernization in history, Vice-Admiral Mark Norman, Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN), announced September 19 the upcoming retirement of four ships that have reached the end of their operational lives.

The ships are Her Majesty’s Canadian Ships (HMCS) Protecteur and Preserver, two Protecteur-class auxiliary oil replenishment ships; and HMC Ships Iroquois and Algonquin, two Iroquois-class guided missile destroyers.

The retirement of these vessels has been anticipated for some time and is a step towards the introduction of new ships and capabilities set to be delivered through the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy (NSPS), as well as recognition of the RCN’s commitment to the responsible use of public funds while maintaining Canada’s naval readiness.

This period of transition includes the modernization of the RCN’s 12 Halifax-class frigates and the procurement of three new classes of ships, including the Joint Support Ships, the Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ships and the Canadian Surface Combatants, as well as the integration of a new maritime aircraft into fleet service.

During this period of transition, the RCN will be able to count on its modernized Halifax-class frigates, Victoria-class submarines and Kingston-class vessels to carry out the tasks and missions set by the Government of Canada.

The Government of Canada is delivering equipment to the RCN by investing $4 billion to modernize the Halifax-class frigates, and $36.6 billion on the NSPS for the recapitalization of the federal surface fleet during the coming decades.

The RCN has a plan in place to address the many challenges of transition, including the need to maintain excellence in operations, to deliver the future fleet and to prepare the RCN for the new capabilities and technologies that will be delivered through the NSPS over the next decade and beyond.

Quick facts

HMCS Iroquois

  • HMCS Iroquois is a guided missile destroyer and the lead ship of the Iroquois Class, which comprises HMCS Athabaskan on the East Coast, and HMCS Algonquin on the West Coast.
  • HMCS Iroquois has been scheduled for divestment since November 2011.
  • HMCS Iroquois will prepare for its official paying off ceremony in January 2015 in Halifax.

HMCS Algonquin

  • HMCS Algonquin is a guided missile destroyer, the fourth ship of the Iroquois Class.
  • On August 30, 2013, HMCS Algonquin was involved in a collision at sea with HMCS Protecteur while conducting exercise manoeuvres en route to Hawaii. There were no injuries. The ship was able to return to its home port of Esquimalt, B.C., to undergo a full damage assessment.
  • It was assessed that HMCS Algonquin suffered extensive damage to its port side hangar and remained alongside in Esquimalt.
  • Considering the relatively short service life remaining for HMCS Algonquin, which was scheduled to be retired in early 2019, and its current state of repair, the cost to reinstate this ship to full operational capability no longer represents a responsible use of public funds. As a result, HMCS Algonquin will begin preparations for pay off in the near future.
  • A Board of Inquiry (BOI) was convened to further investigate the incident and circumstances surrounding it, and will make recommendations as to how to prevent a similar event from occurring in the future.

HMCS Protecteur

  • HMCS Protecteur is an auxiliary oil replenishment ship based in Esquimalt, B.C., and the lead ship of the Protecteur Class. Its sister ship, HMCS Preserver, is based in Halifax.
  • HMCS Protecteur was designed to carry a large amount of supplies, including fuel, dry cargo and ammunition, which could be transferred to other ships through hook-up lines and re-fuelling hoses in a manoeuvre known as a replenishment at sea.
  • HMCS Protecteur will be officially retired after sustaining serious damage in a fire in February 2014. An extensive assessment of HMCS Protecteur has concluded that the ship was damaged beyond economical repair.
  • Considering the relatively short service life remaining for HMCS Protecteur, which was scheduled to be retired in 2017, and its current state of repair, the cost to reinstate the ship to full operational capability would not represent a responsible use of public funds. As a result, the ship will remain alongside and be prepared for disposal as early as is practically feasible.
  • A BOI has been convened to investigate the cause of the fire on board HMCS Protecteur and the circumstances surrounding it. The BOI, which is still ongoing, will make recommendations as to how to prevent a similar event from occurring in the future, and its results will be made public when available.

HMCS Preserver

  • HMCS Preserver is rapidly approaching the end of its operational life, which was planned for 2016.
  • Engineering surveys conducted in recent months identified levels of corrosion in HMCS Preserver that have degraded the structural integrity of the ship below acceptable limits, specifically in the vicinity of the port side boiler room.
  • As a result of its current material state, and considering the relatively short service life remaining for HMCS Preserver, the cost to reinstate this ship to full operational capability does not represent a responsible use of public funds. HMCS Preserver will therefore cease its operational life, remain alongside and prepare for pay off in the near future.

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