It’s not often that a navy ship is named after a pilot but the last of six of the Royal Canadian Navy’s Arctic patrol vessels will carry the name of a distinguished naval aviator from the Second World War. The ship will be named for Lt. Robert Hampton Gray, who flew Corsairs for the Navy and sank a Japanese destroyer on July 28, 1945. Gray died after he pressed the attack despite his aircraft taking a direct hit and catching fire. Before crashing he was able to score a direct hit on the enemy ship and sink it. He was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross.
“In the face of fire from shore batteries and a heavy concentration of fire from some five warships Lieutenant Gray pressed home his attack, flying very low in order to ensure success, and, although he was hit and his aircraft was in flames, he obtained at least one direct hit, sinking the destroyer,” the Navy said in awarding the Victoria Cross in 1945. “Lieutenant Gray has consistently shown a brilliant fighting spirit and most inspiring leadership.” All the new Arctic ships are named after prominent Canadian naval figures. Vintage Wings of Canada has named its Corsair after Hampton Gray.