In grand fashion, the fifth Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship (AOPS) of the Royal Canadian Navy, the future HMCS Frédérick Rolette, was launched on December 9, 2023, at Halifax Shipyard.

This momentous launch not only signifies the addition of the fifth AOPS to the Royal Canadian Navy’s arsenal but also stands as a resounding achievement for Canada’s National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS). It underscores the ongoing reinvigoration of the Royal Canadian Navy’s combatant fleet, showcasing the success of strategic planning and dedication.

Ahead of schedule by a remarkable two months, the future HMCS Frédérick Rolette, a colossal 103-meter vessel, seamlessly transitioned from the land-level facility of Halifax Shipyard to a submersible barge on December 8 before launching into the Bedford Basin.

The future HMCS Frédérick Rolette on a submersible barge.
The future HMCS Frédérick Rolette on a submersible barge.

Crafted by a skilled workforce of over 2,400 shipbuilders, the HMCS Frédérick Rolette now graces the pier side at Halifax Shipyard. Here, a hive of activity persists as the final touches are applied in preparation for upcoming sea trials, leading to the official handover to the Royal Canadian Navy scheduled for September 2024.

“The launch of future HMCS Frédérick Rolette is another milestone achieved on our mission to deliver ships for Canada,” said Dirk Lesko, President, Irving Shipbuilding Inc. “I’m proud of the teamwork that delivered this result”.

Within the expansive confines of Halifax Shipyard, the meticulous construction of the Royal Canadian Navy’s sixth AOPS, and first AOPS variant for the Canadian Coast Guard, the future HMCS Robert Hampton Gray, is well underway.

This ambitious undertaking spearheaded by a dedicated generation of shipbuilders is set to deliver a total of six AOPS for the Royal Canadian Navy, complemented by two AOPS designated for the Canadian Coast Guard. Additionally, the project encompasses the construction of 15 Canadian Surface Combatant ships, fortifying the Royal Canadian Navy’s capabilities as part of the overarching National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS).

In homage to a historical figure, Charles Frédérick Rolette, born on September 23, 1785, in Québec City, this vessel takes its name from a man who left an indelible mark on naval history. Commencing his naval career as a midshipman during adolescence, Rolette’s courage and strategic acumen distinguished him during the War of 1812.

Stationed in Amherstburg, Upper Canada (now Ontario), Rolette, as Lieutenant in command of the brig General Hunter, displayed extraordinary initiative. With lightning speed, he captured the American vessel Cuyahoga just as the news of the war reached Amherstburg on July 3, 1812. This audacious move secured critical intelligence for the British, as the Cuyahoga held the papers and dispatches of the American commander General William Hull.

In an era when medals for gallantry were not yet customary, Lieutenant Rolette’s bravery did not go unnoticed. Senior military officers mentioned him in dispatches multiple times during the war. At the capture of Detroit, Major-General Isaac Brock commended Rolette’s conduct, declaring, “I have watched you during the action; you behaved like a lion, and I will remember you.” Thus, the historical Canton of Rolette was established in 1868, a testament to the enduring legacy of this valiant officer.