Who is Max Bernays?

The third Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship (AOPS) is named after Chief Petty Officer (CPO) Max Bernays, a Canadian naval hero who served as the Coxswain of His Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Assiniboine during the Second World War’s Battle of the Atlantic.

On August 6, 1942, during intense surface gun action against the German submarine U-210, HMCS Assiniboine maneuvered in and out of a fog attempting to ram and sink the enemy submarine. Both vessels were firing high explosive shells at very close range, resulting in a fire that engulfed the bridge and wheelhouse of Assiniboine. Surrounded by smoke and flames while steering the ship, CPO Bernays ordered two junior sailors to get clear, leaving him alone at the helm and trapped by the blaze. Besieged by flames, he executed all the helm orders as Assiniboine maneuvered for position against the U-boat, and did the work of the two telegraphmen, dispatching over 130 telegraph orders to the engine room. Several bullets and shells penetrated the wheelhouse as the enemy concentrated their machine-gun and cannon fire on the bridge. Eventually Assiniboine rammed and sank U-210 in what was considered to be an extremely hard-fought action, during which the Canadians suffered one fatality and 13 wounded. CPO Bernays was awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal for his courage and dauntless devotion to duty during the battle.

The Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships have been named after Canadian naval heroes who exhibited outstanding leadership and heroism during wartime service in the Navy. Chief Petty Officer Max Bernays’ example of valour and dauntless devotion to duty is a model for all Canadian naval personnel and it is fitting that one of our naval ships is named in his honour.

CPO Bernays was awarded the distinguished Conspicuous Gallantry Medal (CGM) by the British Admiralty for his valour and dauntless devotion to duty during action. He was one of only two members of the RCN to receive the CGM during the Second World War.


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