Keel-laying ceremony for HMCS Margaret Brooke marks a shipbuilding milestone

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Navy News / May 29, 2017

The traditional keel-laying ceremony for the second of the Royal Canadian Navy’s six future Harry DeWolf Class Arctic and Offshore Patrol Vessels, HMCS Margaret Brooke, took place at Halifax Shipyard on May 29, 2017. A keel-laying ceremony is one of the most significant dates in a ship’s construction.

The ceremony was marked by the placing of a coin onto the keel of the ship by Olivia Strowbridge, the first woman in a trade supervisory role at Halifax Shipyard, and its first female certified ship spray painter.  In shipbuilding tradition, this coin will remain embedded within the ship’s structure for its entire life, and will invite good luck for all who sail in it. The coin placed on this ship depicts a four-leaf clover; a symbol with special significance to LCdr Brooke, who carried two four-leaf clovers in a silver locket as a good luck charm following her survival of the sinking of the ferry SS Caribou in 1942. Once the coin was placed, Ms. Strowbridge declared that the keel is now “well and truly laid”.

This ceremony was also attended by Rear-Admiral John Newton, Commander of Maritime Forces Atlantic; Mr. Kevin McCoy, President of Irving Shipbuilding; and Commander Michele Tessier, the future Commanding Officer of HMCS Margaret Brooke, among others.

Vice-Admiral Ron Lloyd, Commander of the RCN, says the presence of Cdr Tessier held special significance. “I could not be more proud to have the ship’s future Commanding Officer there to participate and represent our generation as we look to follow in the wake of our naval heroes.”

“This keel-laying is another exciting step forward on the road towards Canada’s future fleet,” continues VAdm Lloyd, “This innovative and highly effective class of ship will add to our ability to provide flexible options to Government, to further ensure the defence and security of Canadians.”

In traditional ship construction, the keel typically extends the entire length of the vessel, running along the bottom of the ship and serving as its “backbone”. Today, many ships, including the Arctic and Offshore Patrol Vessels, are instead constructed in modules or blocks, fabricated separately then brought together to form the superstructure of the ship. However, the keel-laying tradition has endured.

HMCS Margaret Brooke is expected to be officially launched in a Naming/Launching ceremony in 2019.