Recently we have received a number of comments from Canadians regarding the response to the petition initiated by Project Naval Distinction calling for the Royal Canadian Navy to honour the greatest ship in Canadian history: Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Haida.
In his response, the Minister of National Defence, confirmed that HMCS Haida will be designated “the Flagship of the [Royal Canadian Navy] for ceremonial purposes.” In providing greater detail, the Minister goes on to say:
- “While the RCN will not provide the crew, funding or any official unit designation that are usually provided for a commissioned warship in the RCN…”
- “As such, RCN will designate an Honorary Commanding Officer for the HMCS HAIDA [sic] from an existing RCN unit such as the Naval Reserve unit HMCS STAR in Hamilton, where HMCS HAIDA is located…”
- “As the ceremonial Flagship of the RCN, HMCS HAIDA will fly the new Canadian Naval Ensign instead of the White Ensign the ship flew while in commission up until 1963.”
We would like to offer the following clarifications:
- The Minister drafted his response independent of Project Naval Distinction.
- While Project Naval Distinction has openly called for HMCS Haida to be named the Flagship of the Royal Canadian Navy, we understand the benefit to name a specific flag officer associated with a flagship, in keeping with the naval use of the term ‘flagship’. Here, for example, HMCS Haida could be named Flagship of the Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy, the highest ranking naval officer in Canada.
- The naming of an Honorary Captain of HMCS Haida, such as the Commanding Officer of Naval Reserve Division HMCS Star, which could include a non-sea trade officer (e.g. logistics, intelligence), who may have never been to sea, is an idea developed independent of Project Naval Distinction. Project Naval Distinction believes that any titling of an individual with HMCS Haida should be based on merit and in recognition of truly exemplary service, and not on proximity to HMCS Haida where she is currently berthed.
- The removal of any historic artifacts from HMCS Haida, such as the White Ensign the Haida proudly flew during the Second World War and the Korean War, is an idea developed independent of Project Naval Distinction.
The Project Naval Distinction team has always hoped to be included in discussions on ways to honour and celebrate the ‘fightingest’ ship in Canadian history, particularly because as an independent, citizen-initiative we have a direct line of communication with Canadians from coast to coast to coast. However, the communicated decisions regarding any honour that will be given to HMCS Haida and associated ceremony are those of the government of Canada and the Royal Canadian Navy.
Project Naval Distinction will continue to work to promote HMCS Haida‘s incredible history and we offer our support to the government of Canada and the Royal Canadian Navy to ensure the recognition to be given to the Haida is done with dignity and respect.