Margaret Elizabeth Brooke to be ship’s sponsor of HMCS Margaret Brooke

Navy News / May 5, 2017

Margaret Elizabeth Brooke, the niece of Canadian naval hero Lieutenant-Commander Margaret Martha Brooke, has agreed to become the sponsor of the ship that will bear her aunt’s name.

Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Margaret Brooke will be the second of the Royal Canadian Navy’s (RCN) upcoming Harry DeWolf Class Arctic and Offshore Patrol Vessels.

When the name of HMCS Margaret Brooke was announced in April 2015, it was the first RCN ship ever to be named after a living Canadian woman. LCdr Brooke, a Nursing Sister decorated for gallantry during the Second World War, passed away the following year at the age of 100.

“My Aunt Margie was absolutely delighted when the Royal Canadian Navy asked if she would lend her name to a ship,” said Ms. Brooke. “She was a very private lady, kind and thoughtful. She was also a lifelong learner and a self-made career woman. Despite having a long and successful career in paleontology after retiring from the navy, her 20 years in uniform remained very close to her heart. I am honoured to share her legacy as the ship’s sponsor, and I cannot wait to meet the men and women of HMCS Margaret Brooke.”

Ms. Brooke, a retired nurse living in Vancouver, had a close relationship with her aunt. She is the eldest of five children, the children of LCdr Brooke’s brother Hewitt and his wife Marian. Both Hewitt and Marian Brooke also served in the RCN during the Second World War – he as a doctor and she as a nurse.

LCdr Brooke, a dietician by profession, survived the sinking of the ferry SS Caribou after it was torpedoed by a German U-boat off the coast of Newfoundland in October 1942. She and a colleague, Sub-Lieutenant Agnes Wilkie, clung to ropes on an overturned lifeboat until hypothermia caused SLt Wilkie to lose consciousness. LCdr Brooke held onto the lifeboat with one hand and her unconscious friend with the other until daybreak when, despite her best efforts, a wave pulled SLt Wilkie away. For her selfless act, LCdr Brooke was named a Member of the Order of the British Empire.

“As we mark the anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic, the longest battle of the Second World War, the Royal Canadian Navy is very proud that Ms. Margaret E. Brooke will become the sponsor of the ship bearing her aunt’s name,” said Vice-Admiral Ron Lloyd, Commander RCN. “LCdr Brooke’s heroic and selfless actions during the terrifying sinking of the SS Caribou by a German U-boat in 1942 continue to inspire the sailors of today’s RCN.”

The appointment of a ship’s sponsor is a long naval tradition. A sponsor typically takes part in the naming of a ship, often breaking a bottle of champagne across the ship’s bow during its launching ceremony. Many sponsors continue their relationship with their ship for many years and remain key stakeholders and supportive members of the RCN family.

Construction of HMCS Margaret Brooke is now underway at Halifax Shipyard. The ship is expected to be launched in a naming ceremony that will involve Ms. Brooke in 2019.

Ms. Brooke is the second sponsor to be announced for the Harry DeWolf Class Arctic and Offshore Patrol Vessels. Sophie Grégoire Trudeau was previously announced as the sponsor of HMCS Harry DeWolf, the lead ship in the class.

The Arctic and Offshore Patrol Vessels will be large, ice-capable ships, more than 100 metres long, and designed for a variety of missions in Canadian waters and abroad. Commander Michele Tessier has been appointed as the first Commanding Officer of HMCS Margaret Brooke.

The names of five AOPVs have been announced to date, each one named after Canadian naval heroes: HMCS Harry DeWolf, HMCS Margaret Brooke, HMCS Max Bernays, HMCS William Hall and HMCS Frédérick Rolette.