HMCS William Hall

The fourth Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship (AOPS) is named in honour of Petty Officer William Hall, a Canadian naval hero, for his actions at the Relief of Lucknow, India on November 16, 1857 during the Indian Rebellion.

Then-Able Seaman Hall was serving in the frigate His Majesty’s Ship (HMS) Shannon, when the ship was ordered to Calcutta, British India, as the rebellion broke out in 1857. A group of gunners, sailors and marines from HMS Shannon were formed together (the Shannon Brigade) and took part in the Relief of Lucknow.

On November 16, 1857, naval guns were brought up close to the mutineers’ fortification. Gun crews kept up a steady fire in an attempt to breach and clear the walls, while a hail of musket balls and grenades from the mutineers caused heavy casualties. Then-Able Seaman Hall and Lieutenant Thomas James Young were eventually the only survivors of the Shannon Brigade, all the rest having been killed or wounded. Between them they loaded and served the last gun, which was fired at less than 20 yards from the fortification’s wall, until it was breached.

On October 28, 1859, then-Able Seaman Hall was awarded the Victoria Cross for his gallant conduct under fire during the Relief of Lucknow.

Eventually promoted to the rank of petty officer, Petty Officer Hall was the first Nova Scotian awarded the Victoria Cross and is well-deserving of this honour. He is a tremendous example of the courage with which our men and women in uniform serve Canada.

Petty Officer Hall is one of a number of prominent Black Canadians recognized during Black History Month, a time to celebrate the many achievements and contributions throughout history of Black Canadians who have helped make Canada the culturally diverse, compassionate and prosperous nation it is today.

In September 2014, the Government of Canada announced that the AOPS would be named to honour prominent Canadians who served with the highest distinction and conspicuous gallantry in the Navy. The lead ship was named Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Harry DeWolf and the class is known as the Harry DeWolf class.

The RCN will employ the AOPS to conduct sovereignty and surveillance operations in Canadian waters on all three coasts, including in the Arctic. The AOPS will also be used to support other units of the Canadian Armed Forces in the conduct of maritime-related operations, and to support other government departments in carrying out their mandates, as required.

The future HMCS William Hall has entered full production, with its keel being laid at Irving Shipyard, Halifax, in February 2021.

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