Keel Laid for Fifth Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship

At a ceremony today at Halifax Shipyard, Rear Admiral Brian Santarpia and Ross Langley, Vice Chairman of Irving Shipbuilding marked the official keel laying of the fifth Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship (AOPS) – The future HMCS Frederick Rolette.

The keel laying ceremony is a centuries-old tradition, dating back to the ancient Romans, that marks the formal start of a ship’s construction. Today’s ceremony included the tradition of the welding of a coin to the hull of the ship to bring luck to the captain and crew during the life of the ship. The coin, selected by the Royal Canadian Navy and presented by Rear Admiral Brian Santarpia, Commander of Maritime Forces Atlantic (MARLANT) and Joint Task Force Atlantic (JTFA), was welded in place by Eric Theriault, a French Canadian from Belliveau Cove, Nova Scotia whose Acadian roots date back generations. Rear Admiral officially declared the hull “well and truly laid” at the conclusion of the ceremony.

Charles Frederick Rolette was born in Québec City on September 23, 1785 and joined the Royal Navy as a midshipman while a young teen. He distinguished himself during the War of 1812, earning a reputation as a bold and quick-thinking officer. The historical Canton of Rolette, located on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River, roughly 50 km southeast of the town of Montmagny, Quebec, near the American border, was established in 1868 in his honor.

Just before the outbreak of the War of 1812, Rolette was posted to Amherstburg, Upper Canada (now Ontario) as Lieutenant in command of the brig General Hunter. When word of the outbreak of war reached Amherstburg on July 3, 1812, Rolette acted immediately, capturing an American vessel, the Cuyahoga, before the American crew even realized that their country had declared war on Britain. This was the first action of the War of 1812 and a significant prize as the Cuyahoga carried the American commander General William Hull’s papers and dispatches. This provided the British with significant early intelligence on American strength and deployment.

At a time when it was not yet customary to award medals to military personnel in recognition of conspicuous gallantry, Lieutenant Rolette was mentioned in dispatches by senior military officers on several occasions during the course of the war. At the capture of Detroit, Major-General Isaac Brock praised Rolette’s conduct in the highest terms: “I have watched you during the action,” said the general, “you behaved like a lion, and I will remember you.”

To capture the essence of Lieutenant Rolette, the chosen coin for this ceremony is the 2014 silver five-dollar Lion on the Mountain. More than 30,000 years ago, ancient humans painted prides of hunting lions on cave walls. From these earliest moments, the lion emerged as an emblem of protection, military might, royalty, and supernatural power. Today, the lion is one of the most common heraldic symbols, used in the emblems, arms, and currency of hundreds of nations worldwide.

The future HMCS Frederick Rolette will be 103.6 metres in length, have a 19 meter beam, displace 6,615 tonnes, and will be comprised of 440,000 parts.

Halifax Shipyard is completing six Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships for the Royal Canadian Navy and will then build two AOPS variants for the Canadian Coast Guard.

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