Harry DeWolf Class Arctic and Offshore Patrol Vessel



Harry DeWolf Class AOPV Artist's Impression


Laid Down: 17 Feb 2021

Floated up: 28 Nov 2022


Paid off: 


On 28 Nov 2022, the future HMCS WILLIAM HALL was floated up in Bedford Basin, Halifax, NS.


On 28 Apr 2023 the official Naming Ceremony of the future HMCS WILLIAM HALL, the fourth Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship (AOPS) being built at the Halifax Shipyard for the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN), took place.


The ship was officially named in a ceremony with the Ships Sponsor, Chief Superintendent Craig Gibson (Ret’d) of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, who was the first Black person to be promoted to the rank of Chief Superintendent as the Commanding Officer for “L” Division, Prince Edward Island. Gibson is also the first male to ever be appointed Sponsor for an HMC Ship. Gibson was raised in Gibson Woods, a small Black community where descendants of William Hall settled as Black Loyalists.


The son of former American slaves, William Hall was the first Black person, the first Nova Scotian and one of the first Canadians to receive the British Empire’s highest award for bravery, the Victoria Cross, for his bravery during the Seige of Lucknow during the Indian Rebellion of 1857.


“Conditions were harrowing,” said the Honourable Anita Anand, Minister of National Defence, at the ceremony. “Somehow managing to evade the barrage of enemy fire as their friends and shipmates fell all around them, in the end—of His Majesty’s Ship Shannon crew—only Hall and another officer were left standing.”


On 31 Aug 2023, WILLIAM HALL was accepted by the RCN from the builder, 2 months ahead of schedule.





William Hall's Royal Navy career coincided with a period of rapid and often violent expansion of British imperial power worldwide: in eastern Asia, on the Indian subcontinent, and elsewhere. While Hall had no role in shaping imperial policy, the actions of which he was a part were instrumental in extending and consolidating colonial rule over large parts of the non-British world. These actions should be understood in the context of the broader processes of imperialism and resistance of which they are a part. The conflict in which Hall was decorated is today understood as the Indian Rebellion of 1857, a sustained campaign of resistance to the British East India Company's abusive governance. 


William Hall was the first Black person, the first Nova Scotian and one of the first Canadians to receive the British Empire’s highest award for bravery, the Victoria Cross.The son of former American slaves, Hall was born in 1827 at Horton, Nova Scotia, where he also attended school. He grew up during the age of wooden ships, when many boys dreamed of travelling the world in sailing vessels. As a young man, Hall worked in shipyards at Hantsport for several years, building wooden ships for the merchant marine. He then joined the crew of a trading vessel and, before he was eighteen, had visited most of the world’s important ports.


Perhaps a search for adventure caused young William Hall to leave a career in the American merchant navy and enlist in the Royal Navy in Liverpool, England, in 1852. His first service, as Able Seaman with HMS Rodney, included two years in the Crimean War. Hall was a member of the naval brigade that landed from the fleet to assist ground forces manning heavy gun batteries, and he received British and Turkish medals for his work during this campaign.


After the Crimean War, Hall was assigned to the receiving ship HMS Victory at Portsmouth, England. He then joined the crew of HMS Shannon as Captain of the Foretop. It was his service with Shannon that led to the Victoria Cross.


Shannon, under Captain William Peel, was escorting troops to China, in readiness for expected conflict there, when mutiny broke out among the sepoys in India. Lord Elgin, former Governor General of Upper Canada and then Envoy Extrodinary to China, was asked to send troops to India. The rebel sepoy army had taken Delhi and Cawnpore, and a small British garrison at Lucknow was under siege. Elgin diverted troops to Calcutta and, as the situation in India worsened, Admiral Seymour also dispatched Shannon, Pearl and Sanspareil from Hong Kong to Calcutta. Captain Peel, several officers, and about 400 seamen and marines including William Hall, travelled by barge and on foot from Calcutta to Cawnpore, dragging eight-inch guns and twenty-four-pound howitzers.


Progress was slow with fighting all along the way. At Cawnpore the Shannon crew joined another relief force under Sir Colin Campbell (later to become Lieutenant-Governor of Nova Scotia) and began the historic march to Lucknow.


The key to Lucknow was the Shah Najaf mosque, a walled structure itself enclosed by yet another wall. The outer wall was breached by the 93rd Highlanders at mid-day, and the Shannon brigade dragged its guns to within 400 yards (366 m) of the inner wall. William Hall volunteered to replace a missing man in the crew of a twentyfour- pounder. The walls were thick, and by late afternoon the 30,000 sepoy defenders had inflicted heavy casualties from their protected positions. The bombardment guns from Shannon were dragged still closer to the walls and a bayonet attack was ordered, but to little effect. Captain Peel ordered two guns to within 20 yards (18 m) of the wall. The enemy concentrated its fire on these gun crews until one was totally annihilated. Of the Shannon crew, only Hall and one officer, Lieutenant Thomas Young, were left standing.


Young was badly injured, but he and Hall continued working the gun, firing, reloading, and firing again until they finally triggered the charge that opened the walls. “I remember,” Hall is quoted as saying, “that after each round we ran our gun forward, until at last my gun’s crew were actually in danger of being hurt by splinters of brick and stone torn by the round shot from the walls we were bombarding.”


Captain Peel recommended William Hall and Thomas Young for the Victoria Cross, in recognition of their “gallant conduct at a twenty-four-pounder gun... at Lucknow on the 16th November 1857”.


Hall received his Victoria Cross aboard HMS Donegal in Queenstown Harbour, Ireland, on October 28, 1859. His naval career continued aboard many ships, among them Bellerophon, Hero, Impregnable, Petrel and Royal Adelaide, until he retired in 1876 as Quartermaster.


Hall moved back to Nova Scotia to live with his sisters, Rachel Robinson and Mary Hall, on a farm in Avonport overlooking the Minas Basin. A modest man, he lived and farmed without recognition until 1901, when HRH the Duke of Cornwall and York (later King George V) visited Nova Scotia. A parade of British veterans was held, and Hall wore his Victoria Cross and three other service medals. The Duke inquired about the medals and drew attention to Hall’s service.


Three years later, William Hall died at home, of paralysis, and was buried without military honours in an unmarked grave. In 1937, a local campaign was launched to have Hall’s valour recognized by the Canadian Legion, but it was eight more years before his body was reburied in the grounds of the Hantsport Baptist Church. The monument erected there bears an enlarged replica of the Victoria Cross and a plaque that describes Hall’s courage and devotion to duty.


Subsequently, a branch of the Canadian Legion in Halifax was renamed in his honour. A gymnasium in Cornwallis, the DaCosta-Hall Educational Program for Black students in Montreal, and the annual gun run of the International Tattoo in Halifax also perpetuate his name.


In 1967, William Hall’s medals were returned to Canada from England to be shown at Expo ‘67 in Montreal. As property of the Province of Nova Scotia, they were later transferred to the Nova Scotia Museum.


Source: Maritime Museum of the Atlantic




Photos and Documents





(BG01-BG03) The future HMCS WILLIAM HALL at the Irving Shipyards, Halifax, with her center and stern mega blocks positioned for joining together - 10 Jun 2022. The forward mega block is under construction.



(BG04) The future HMCS WILLIAM HALL at the Irving Shipyards, Halifax, with her forward block positioned for joining - 06 Aug 2022


Courtesy of Barry Gerrard



The future HMCS WILLIAM HALL in Bedford Basin shortly before being floated-up - 28 Nov 2022

DND/RCN photo


The future HMCS WILLIAM HALL under tow after being floated-up in Bedford Basin, Halifax, NS on 28 Nov 2022

DND/RCN photo




The future HMCS WILLIAM Hall was delivered to and accept by the RCN on 30 Aug 2023

Source: RCN's Facebook page