The Future HMCS William Hall Officially Named Today

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia, April 28, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Today marked the official Naming Ceremony of the future HMCS William Hall, the fourth Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship (AOPS) underway at the Halifax Shipyard for the Royal Canadian Navy. The six AOPS are named to honour other prominent Royal Canadian Navy heroes who served their country with the highest distinction. The naming of a ship is a steeped in history and naval tradition. Dating back centuries, this ritual is believed to bring good luck and safe travel to the vessel and crew.

The ship’s sponsor, Chief Superintendent Craig Gibson (Ret’d), officially named the ship during a ceremony attended by the Minister of National Defence , The Honourable Anita Anand, Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy, Vice-Admiral Angus Topshee, , Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia, The Honourable Arthur J. Leblanc, The Honourable Tim Houston, Premier of Nova Scotia, The Honourable Barbara Adams, NS Minister of Senior and Long-Term Care as well as descendants of William Hall, the ship’s company and Halifax Shipyard shipbuilders.

As part of the event, Craig Gibson broke a bottle of Nova Scotia’s Avondale Sky’s Blanc de Noir (2013) sparkling wine against the ship’s bow and participating in Navy Tradition declared: “I name you William Hall. Bless this ship and all who sail in it.”

Craig Gibson is a retired 34-year veteran of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police who, in August 2012, became the first black person to be promoted to the rank of Chief Superintendent as the Commanding Officer for “L” Division, Prince Edward Island. Craig Gibson was raised in Gibson Woods, a small black community where Gibson families (relations of William Hall) settled as Black Loyalists.

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. Hall received this recognition for his service at the Siege of Lucknow during the Indian Rebellion of 1857. 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, before going to sea on merchant ships and joining the Royal Navy in 1852.

Joining Craig Gibson at today’s ceremony were several descendants of William Hall as well as a number African Nova Scotian organizations including the Africadian Empowerment Academy, the Black Loyalist Heritage Centre, the Black Cultural Centre, Africville and the Defence Visible Minority Advisory Group (DVMAG).

The Halifax Shipyard will deliver one AOPS per year to the Royal Canadian Navy ending with the sixth ship in 2026. A further two AOPS variants will be built for the Canadian Coast Guard. In 2024, the company will commence construction of the first of 15 Canadian Surface Combatants.


“I was happy to preside over the Assumption of Command ceremony at Government House, and I am confident that Commander Keleman and members of his Command Team, will uphold the finest traditions of the Royal Canadian Navy, and build upon the remarkable legacy of William Hall by enhancing the values of equity, diversity and inclusion.”

The Honourable Arthur LeBlanc, Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia

“Throughout his military career, Petty Officer William Hall demonstrated bravery, perseverance, and duty. A proud Nova Scotian, he became the first Black person, and one of the first Canadians, to win the Victoria Cross. I join Canadians in paying tribute to Petty Officer Hall for his outstanding service to our country. I thank all those who will be serving in HMCS William Hall in the future. I look forward to watching them carry out vital missions to defend our values, our way of life and our country.”

The Honourable Anita Anand, Minister of National Defence

“Today is the latest example of how our government’s National Shipbuilding Strategy is delivering positive economic and social benefit to our region while supporting our Royal Canadian Navy and the Canadian Coast Guard. This ship is a testament to the hard work and ingenuity of our shipbuilders, and the importance of the shipbuilding industry to our local economy and national defense. It is also a proud moment for the African Nova Scotian community, as this ship will bear the name of Petty Officer William Hall, a trailblazing African Nova Scotian whose story and bravery inspires us all.”

Andy Fillmore, MP for Halifax and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Innovation, Science, and Industry.

“Today is a proud day for Canada, in particular the community of Hantsport, and for the family of William Hall. We continue to draw inspiration from V.C. William Hall’s bravery, and the work being done at the Irving Shipyard to modernize and equip Canada’s Navy is important to ensure our heroes of today, the men and women of the Royal Canadian Navy, have access to the tools needed to protect our freedom.”

Kody Blois, Member of Parliament for Kings-Hants

“The legacy of William Hall lives on and his service will inspire a new generation of Nova Scotians thanks to the ship that bears his name. On behalf of a proud and grateful province, thank you to the hardworking staff of the Halifax Shipyard who are delivering the highest quality patrol vessels to our nation.”

The Honourable Barbara Adams, Minister of Seniors and Long-term Care

“Today marks a momentous event for our fleet, as the fourth Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship is officially named. Named for naval heroes, like William Hall, these ships epitomize the courage and resilience needed to operate throughout Canada’s Arctic and around the world. These modern and multifunctional ships will ensure we can patrol, secure, and protect Arctic waters for decades to come”.

Commander Royal Canadian Navy, Vice-Admiral Angus Topshee

“As a Black Canadian from Nova Scotia and Kings County, I am very proud and humbled to have been asked to serve as the sponsor of HMCS William Hall at this historic event.

Heroes are important. We look to them for inspiration and strength on our own journeys. William Hall received our country’s highest award for his valour and bravery. The son of former slaves, he is also a proud symbol of someone who broke through the colour barrier. We stand on the shoulders of righteous people of courage and character like William Hall.

To Commander Keleman and the crew of the future HMCS William Hall, it is an honour to associated with your commitment to service, love of country and bravery. I look forward to being an active champion for this ship, the crew, and the legacy of William Hall– attending as many functions as possible to celebrate the history of William Hall. I wish you fair winds, following seas and always a safe return to this harbour and province that we all love so much.”

Craig Gibson, Ship’s Sponsor, HMCS William Hall

“The naming of the fourth Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship – the future HMCS William Hall is a significant milestone. Today is the culmination of 4 years of hard work by thousands of people across Canada. We are proud of our 2,300 skilled shipbuilders. This ship is 90% complete and will be delivered for 44% fewer hours than the first ship of the class. This improvement in efficiency is a tribute to the determination and skill of the entire shipbuilding team that includes Canada and our industry partners.

For our shipbuilder team, HMCS William Hall is special to us because it represents the diversity, we are committed to achieving with our Pathways to Shipbuilding Program through valued community partners like the Africadian Empowerment Academy.”

Dirk Lesko, President of Irving Shipbuilding

About Irving Shipbuilding:

Irving Shipbuilding is Canada’s National Shipbuilder, selected in 2011 to build the new fleet of combat vessels to the Royal Canadian Navy. To date, three Arctic and Offshore Patrol ships (AOPS) have been delivered and a further three are underway. The company will also build two custom AOPS for the Canadian Coast Guard before commencing the larger Canadian Surface Combatant (CSC) Fleet. To date over $5.34 billion in investments have been made across Canada as part of the National Shipbuilding Strategy. Our team of 2300 shipbuilders are proudly based in Halifax, NS and include the largest team of apprentices in Atlantic Canada.

CONTACT:  Mary Keith
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Photos accompanying this announcement are available at

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