Naming the Canadian Surface Combatants

By "Jimmy", 30 November 2023

Naming a warship is an important undertaking, not just for a navy but for the country as a whole. Warships serve as ambassadors on the world stage, their names are a reflection of what the home country views as being meaningful enough to commemorate. With no information available regarding the Canadian Surface Combatant naming scheme, I saw it fitting to consider some possibilities. Recent Royal Canadian Navy naming schemes have the primary goal of connecting with the public. This was done by using names of Canadian towns and cities for all primary classes of vessels, frigates, submarines and minesweepers. The Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships have set a new naming precedent, using prominent Canadians from our naval history while the Joint Support Ships and Patrol Craft Training Ships carry the names of previous vessels.

In my opinion, any naming scheme for Canadian naval vessels should incorporate the following traits:

1. Be distinctly Canadian.

2. Provide a meaningful connection with Canadians/their communities.

3. Perpetuate Canadian naval history.

4. Be respectful and professional.

5. Be appropriate to the size and type of ship.

Taking this into consideration, I present three naming schemes for the Canadian Surface Combatant.

Aboriginal/Indigenous (Haida) class

(Haida, Iroquois, Athabaskan, Huron, Micmac, Nootka, Cayuga, Algonquin, Sioux, Ojibwa, Okanagan, Onondaga, Assiniboine, Kootenay, Inuit)

As Haida is Canada’s most famous warship, there is no better first in class and namesake. The United Kingdom has reused the name of Belfast on a Type 26 frigate, Canada should follow suit. Athabaskan would be a worthy alternative to honour the ship lost in combat in 1944. This naming scheme is a perpetuation of the previous ‘Tribal’ classes with additions from other classes to reach 15 vessels. The overarching class name has been changed to better reflect appropriate modern terminology.

These names are distinctly Canadian and provide a meaningful connection with the Indigenous peoples of Canada. This furthers the goal of reconciliation while fostering a positive relationship with the navy. All members of this class perpetuate names of previous vessels (minus Inuit), bringing forward their accomplishments, artifacts and traditions. Previous namesakes served through WWII, the Cold War and into the 21st century. Consultation with relevant Indigenous groups will ensure respect is given to the namesakes. Modified ships badges, mottos and names should be introduced through this consultation to reflect this while retaining each ship's history. An example would be to use proper Indigenous language for each ship name instead of the English translations, X̱aayda instead of Haida. New Zealand uses the Māori language for many of its ship names. All ship names listed above (minus Inuit) have belonged to major combatants of the RCN previously.

River (Saguenay) class
(Saguenay, Skeena, Assiniboine, Restigouche, St. Laurent, Fraser, Kootenay, Chaudière, Gatineau, Qu'Appelle, Nipigon, Annapolis, Margaree, Mackenzie, Saskatchewan)

As Saguenay was the first warship purposely ordered and built for the RCN, it is a fitting first in class and namesake. Kootenay would be a worthy alternative to honour the men lost in the tragic events of 1969. This naming scheme is a perpetuation of the previous River-class vessels.

These names are distinctly Canadian and provide a meaningful connection with Canadians via major landmarks across the country. All members of this class perpetuate names of previous vessels, bringing forward their accomplishments, artifacts and traditions. Previous namesakes served through WWII and into the Cold War. This scheme is both respectful and professional. Previous classes to hold these names were historically the backbone of the Navy in their service, this is a fitting trend for the Canadian Surface Combatant to uphold.

City (Charlottetown) class
(Charlottetown, Vancouver, Halifax, Ville de Quebec, Toronto, Regina, Calgary, Montreal, Fredericton, Winnipeg, St. John’s, Ottawa, Iqaluit, Kelowna, Red Deer)

Charlottetown is my choice for the namesake but Iqaluit would be a unique alternative. The new trio of names could be substituted for other cities if desired. This scheme is a perpetuation of previously and currently serving classes.

Named after notable Canadian cities, this scheme is distinctly Canadian while providing a meaningful connection to much of the population. Most of this class perpetuates names of previous vessels (minus Iqaluit), bringing forward their accomplishments, artifacts and traditions. These various classes of ships served throughout WWII and currently serve as of writing. This scheme is both respectful and professional. Previous classes to hold these names were historically valuable wartime combatants and currently make up the backbone of the Royal Canadian Navy, making the scheme more than appropriate for the Canadian Surface Combatant.

Please feel free to share your own comments and recommendations.

Share

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

38 thoughts on “Naming the Canadian Surface Combatants”