The Royal Canadian Navy’s sixth Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship (AOPS) will be named in honour of Lieutenant Robert Hampton Gray, a Canadian naval hero of the Second World War.
Lieutenant Robert Hampton Gray joined the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve in 1940, 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.
Lt Gray 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 continued the attack and released his remaining bomb on the escort vessel HIJMS Amakusa, causing the ship to capsize and sink. His aircraft then crashed into the sea, and his body was never recovered.
“Lieutenant 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.”
Vice-Admiral Art McDonald, Commander Royal Canadian Navy
Lieutenant Robert Hampton Gray was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross (VC) for great valour in leading the attack in Onagawa Bay, and for consistently showing a brilliant fighting spirit and most inspiring leadership. He was the only member of the Royal Canadian Navy to be awarded the Victoria Cross during the Second World War.
The names of the six Harry DeWolf-class Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ships (AOPS) will honour prominent Canadian naval figures who served Canada with the highest distinction. For the first time in its 110-year history, the RCN has named a class of ships after prominent Canadian naval figures, proudly honouring their leadership, achievements and heroism while serving Canadian interests at sea. The other five AOPS are named Harry DeWolf, Margaret Brooke, Max Bernays, William Hall, and Frédérick Rolette.
The Harry DeWolf-class will be capable of armed sea-borne surveillance of Canada’s waters, providing government situational awareness of activities and events in these regions, and cooperating with partners to assert and enforce Canadian sovereignty.