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Royal Canadian Navy

Royal Canadian Navy
Marine royale canadienne
Active 1910 – present
(106 years, 6 months)
Country  Canada
Type Navy
Size 8,500 regular personnel
5,100 reserve personnel
Part of Canadian Armed Forces
Headquarters National Defence Headquarters
Motto Ready Aye Ready
March "Heart of Oak"
Mascot SONAR (Newfoundland dog)
Engagements World War I
World War II
Korean War
Persian Gulf War
War in Afghanistan (2001)
Operation Deliverance
Operation Mobile
Commander-in-chief Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, represented by Governor General, David Johnston
Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy Vice-Admiral Mark Norman CMM CD
Naval Ensign
Naval Jack

The Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) (French: Marine royale canadienne), formerly Maritime Command (MARCOM), is the naval force of Canada. The RCN is one of three environmental commands within the unified Canadian Armed Forces. As of 2015 Canada's navy operates 1 destroyer, 12 frigates, 4 patrol submarines, 12 coastal defence vessels and 8 unarmed patrol/training vessels, as well as several auxiliary vessels. The Royal Canadian Navy consists of 8,500 Regular Force and 5,100 Primary Reserve sailors, supported by 5,300 civilians.[a 1] Vice-Admiral Mark Norman is the current Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy and Chief of the Naval Staff.[a 2]

Founded in 1910 as the Naval Service of Canada and given Royal Sanction on 29 August 1911,[1] the Royal Canadian Navy was amalgamated with the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Canadian Army to form the unified Canadian Armed Forces in 1968, after which it was known as "Maritime Command" until 2011 when the title of RCN was restored. Over the course of its history, the RCN served in the First and Second World Wars, the Korean War, the First Gulf War, the Afghanistan War and numerous United Nations peacekeeping missions and NATO operations.


  • History 1
    • 1910–1968 1.1
    • 1968–present 1.2
  • Structure 2
    • Maritime Forces Atlantic 2.1
    • Maritime Forces Pacific 2.2
    • Reserve 2.3
  • Fleet 3
    • Warships 3.1
    • Auxiliary vessels 3.2
    • Aircraft 3.3
      • Squadrons 3.3.1
    • Future procurement 3.4
  • Personnel 4
    • Commissioned officers 4.1
    • Non-commissioned members 4.2
  • Traditions 5
    • Colours 5.1
    • Badge of the Royal Canadian Navy 5.2
    • Heritage 5.3
  • Memorials 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • Further reading 9
  • External links 10



Established following the introduction of the

  • Official website
  • Royal Canadian Navy photographs taken by sailors in action.

External links

  • Armstrong, John Griffith. The Halifax Explosion and the Royal Canadian Navy: Inquiry and Intrigue (Vol. 1. UBC Press, 2002)
  • Auchterlonie, Lieutenant Commander JR Bob. "Meeting the Challenge: The Canadian Navy in the New Strategic Environment." (Toronto: Canadian Forces College Command and Staff Course Masters Thesis Paper, 2004). online
  • Douglas, W. A. B. and Michael Whitby. A Blue Water Navy: The Official Operational History of the Royal Canadian Navy in the Second World War, 1943–1945.
  • German, Tony. The sea is at our gates: the history of the Canadian navy (McClelland & Stewart, 1990)
  • Gimblett, Richard H., and Michael L. Hadley, eds. Citizen Sailors: Chronicles of Canada's Naval Reserve, 1910-2010 (Dundurn, 2010)
  • Hadley, Michael L (1996), A nation's navy: in quest of Canadian naval identity, McGill-Queen's University Press,  
  • Huebert, Rob. "Submarines, Oil Tankers, and Icebreakers: Trying to Understand Canadian Arctic Sovereignty and Security." International Journal 66 (2010): 809.
  • Milner, Marc (2010), Canada's Navy: The First Century, Univ. of Toronto Press 
  • Milner, Marc. North Atlantic run: the Royal Canadian Navy and the battle for the convoys (University of Toronto Press, 1985)
  • Morton, Desmond. A military history of Canada (Random House LLC, 2007)
  • Parker, Mike. Running the Gauntlet: An Oral History of Canadian Merchant Seamen in World War II (Nimbus, 1994)
  • Pritchard, James. A Bridge of Ships: Canadian Shipbuilding During the Second World War (McGill-Queen's Press-MQUP, 2011)
  • Rawling, William. "The Challenge of Modernization: The Royal Canadian Navy and Antisubmarine Weapons, 1944-1945." Journal of Military History 63 (1999): 355-378. in JSTOR
  • Schull, Joseph. Lointoins navires: compte rendu official des operations de la Marine canadienne au cours de la seconde Grande Guerre. Ottawa, Ont.: E. Cloutier, 1953. N.B.: "Publié d'ordre du ministre de la Défense nationale."
  • Tracy, Nicholas. Two-Edged Sword: The Navy as an Instrument of Canadian Foreign Policy (McGill-Queen's Press-MQUP, 2012)

Further reading

  1. ^ Gilbert Norman Tucker `The Naval Service of Canada: Its Official History` Ottawa, 1952
  2. ^ Tucker, Gibert Norman. The Naval Service of Canada: Volume I: Origins and Early Years. Ottawa: King's Printer, 1952, p. 137.
  3. ^ a b Kealey, J.D.F. and E.C. Russell. A History of Canadian Naval Aviation, 1918–1962. Ottawa: Queen's Printer, 1967, pp. 1–10. Retrieved: 6 May 2010.
  4. ^ Milner, Marc. "Walter Hose To The Rescue: Navy, Part 13." Legion Magazine, 1 January 2006. Retrieved: 2 May 2010.
  5. ^ Schull, Joseph. Far Distant Ships: An Official Account of Canadian Naval Operations in World War II. Ottawa: King's Printer, 1952 – reprinted by Stoddart Publishing, Toronto, 1987, p. 1. ISBN 0-7737-2160-6.
  6. ^ Schull, Joseph, p.430-1
  7. ^ Royal Canadian Naval Reserve – Scheme for Training Yacht Club Members
  8. ^ Thorgrimsson, Thor and E.C. Russell. Canadian Naval Operations in Korean Waters, 1950–1955. Ottawa: Queen's Printer, 1965. Retrieved: 9 May 2010.
  9. ^ Milner. Marc. Canada's Navy: The First Century. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1999, pp. 207–209. ISBN 0-8020-4281-3.
  10. ^ Gilmore, Scott. "The Sinking of the Canadian Navy". Maclean's. Maclean's. Retrieved 16 August 2015. 
  11. ^ Campion-Smith, Bruce. "Canadian navy to retire four Cold War-era ships". The Star. Retrieved 19 September 2014. 
  12. ^ Gilmore, Scott. "The sinking of the Canadian Navy". Maclean's. Maclean's. Retrieved 16 August 2015. 
  13. ^ "HMCS Athabaskan tied up in U.K. after engine fails". CBC News. 5 October 2015. Retrieved 10 October 2015. 
  14. ^ "Canada Taps German Design for Navy's Support Ships". DefenseNews. 11 June 2013. Retrieved 26 September 2014. 
  15. ^ "Names chosen for the Royal Canadian Navy's new Joint Support Ships". Royal Canadian Navy. Government of Canada. 25 October 2013. Retrieved 26 September 2014. 
  16. ^ "Names chosen for the Royal Canadian Navy's new Joint Support Ships". 30 November 2013. Retrieved 26 September 2014. 
  17. ^ "PM announces the name of the first of the Royal Canadian Navy’s Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ships". Prime Minister of Canada. 18 September 2014. Retrieved 22 September 2014. 
  18. ^ Canada May Buy Nuclear Submarines, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 27 October 2011 
  19. ^ "National Defence Act". Government of Canada. Retrieved 26 September 2014. 
  20. ^ a b c d "Queen's Colours (Canada)". Flagspot. Retrieved 4 March 2011. 
  21. ^ "Royal Canadian Navy". Public Register of Arms, Flags and Banners. Governor General of Canada. Retrieved 12 January 2015. 
  22. ^ Royal Canadian Naval Association Naval Memorial
  23. ^ Royal Canadian Naval Association Naval Memorial
  • Other references
  1. ^ a b "Canada’s Navy at a Glance". National Defence and the Canadian Forces. 16 August 2011. Archived from the original on 17 August 2011. 
  2. ^ "Senior Officer Biography: Vice-Admiral Norman M.A.G. , CMM, CD". Royal Canadian Navy. 2013-06-25. Retrieved 2013-07-13. 
  3. ^ Maritime Forces Atlantic, Royal Canadian Navy, archived from the original on 17 August 2011 
  4. ^ Rear-Admiral Nigel S. Greenwood, Royal Canadian Navy, archived from the original on 17 August 2011 
  5. ^ The Naval Reserve – Welcome Aboard, Royal Canadian Navy, archived from the original on 17 August 2011 
  6. ^ Canada Begins Joint Support Ships Procurement for the Canadian Forces, National Defence and the Canadian Forces, 14 July 2010, archived from the original on 17 August 2011 
  7. ^ Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ships, National Defence and the Canadian Forces, 5 August 2011, archived from the original on 17 August 2011 
  8. ^ Halifax-Class Modernization And Life Extension, National Defence and the Canadian Forces, 1 October 2010, archived from the original on 17 August 2011 
  9. ^ Maritime Helicopter Project, National Defence and the Canadian Forces, 26 July 2010, archived from the original on 17 August 2011 
  10. ^ Royal Canadian Navy Rank and Appointment Insignia, Royal Canadian Navy, 16 August 2011, archived from the original on 19 August 2011 
  • The Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces


See also

  • "Royal Canadian Naval Association Naval Memorial (1995)" by André Gauthier (sculptor) was erected on the shore of Lake Ontario in Spencer Smith Park in Burlington, Ontario. The 6’4” high cast bronze statue depicts a WWII Canadian sailor in the position of attention saluting his lost shipmates. The model for the statue was a local Sea Cadet wearing Mike Vencel's naval service uniform.[22] On the black granite base, the names of Royal Canadian Navy and Canadian Merchant Navy ships sunk during WWII are engraved.[23]
  • A commemorative plaque in SS Point Pleasant Park, Halifax, Nova Scotia unveilled in 1967, "When the United Kingdom declared war on Germany in 1914, Canada and Newfoundland's participation was virtually unquestioned. With the onset of the Second World War in 1939 Canadians and Newfoundlanders once more rushed to enlist and were a major factor in the Allied victories in both conflicts. During two world wars the main duty of the Royal Canadian Navy was to escort convoys in the Atlantic and guard merchant vessels against the threat of attack by German submarines. In the Second World War, it also escorted ships in the Mediterranean and to Russia and supported the Allied landings in Sicilian, Italian and Normandy campaigns as well as in the Pacific. The Canadian Merchant Navy's duties included the transportation of troops and supplies to the Allied armies and food for the United Kingdom, extremely dangerous work which resulted in considerable losses."
  • at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax, Nova Scotia. "In memory of 2200 known Canadian Merchant Seamen and 91 Canadian vessels lost by enemy action and those who served in the cause of freedom – World War I 1914–1918; World War II 1939–1945; Korean Conflict 1950–1953"
Engraving of SS Point Pleasant Park, Canadian Merchant Navy Monument, Sackville Landing, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Plaque in Halifax commemorating the contribution of the merchant marine during the World Wars


This history of Royal Canadian Navy is preserved and presented at the Maritime Command Museum in Halifax, the Canadian War Museum, the Naval Museum of Alberta and naval museums at Naval Reserve Headquarters in Quebec City and at CFB Esquimalt as well as the Maritime Museum of British Columbia. Several Royal Canadian Navy ships and submarines have been preserved including the destroyer HMCS Haida, the hydrofoil HMCS Bras d'Or and the submarines Ojibwa and Onondaga. The corvette HMCS Sackville serves as Canada's Naval Memorial. The Royal Canadian Navy Monument is located on the banks of the Ottawa River in Ottawa. A monument at Point Pleasant Park in Halifax commemorates members of Royal Canadian Navy who have died in peacetime and there are valour memorials in Halifax, Quebec City and Esquimalt.


  • St. Edward's Crown
  • Maple leaf compartment
  • Eagle superimposed on a fouled anchor, within a circlet
  • Motto "Ready aye ready"

The badge of the Royal Canadian Navy consists of:[21]

Badge of the Royal Canadian Navy

The use of the service colours of the Royal Navy were granted to the RCN in 1925. Two service colours were sent to Halifax and Esquimalt. In 1937 they were retired, and new colours sent. The official presentation of the King's Colour was not completed until 1939.[20] The Royal Canadian Navy's retired colours are laid up at Beechwood Cemetery in Ottawa, Ontario.[20]

The Queen's or King's Ceremonial colours (also referred to as the Sovereign's Colour) for the navy have been consecrated and presented four times: in 1939 by Esquimalt, BC, in 1959 by Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip in Halifax, NS, in 1979 by the Queen Mother in Halifax, NS and in 2009 by the Governor General of Canada and Commander-in-Chief Michaëlle Jean in Halifax, NS.[20] On each occasion two identical colours were presented, one for the Atlantic fleet and one for the Pacific fleet. The current colours consist of a ceremonial standard with the Maple Leaf flag in the top left canton, the monarch's royal cypher for Canada (a capital E on a blue background, surrounded by a circlet of gold Tudor roses and laurels, surmounted by a crown) and an anchor (from the Royal Canadian Navy's naval jack) on the lower right fly. These elements are found on the 1979 and 2009 colours. The colours from 1959 and 1939 consisted of a Royal Navy white ensign with the Queen's or King's cipher in the middle.[20]

Former Governor General Michaëlle Jean acting in the Queen's name as Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Forces and wearing the naval uniform while presenting the newly consecrated Queen's Colour to the Canadian Forces Maritime Command, 27 June 2009
Queen's Colour



Non-commissioned member rank structure of the Royal Canadian Navy
Chief Petty Officer 1st class Chief Petty Officer 2nd class Petty Officer 1st class Petty Officer 2nd class Master Seaman Leading Seaman Able Seaman Ordinary Seaman
OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2
Senior non-commissioned appointments of the Royal Canadian Navy
Canadian Forces Chief Warrant Officer Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Formation Chief Petty Officer 1st Class

All Regular Force non-commissioned members of the Canadian Forces undergo basic training at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu. Recruits then attend occupation-specific training at various locations across Canada.

Non-commissioned members of the Royal Canadian Navy have pay grades ranging from OR-2 to OR-9. OR-9 (chief petty officer 1st class), OR-8 (chief petty officers 2nd class) and OR-7 (petty officer 1st class) are known as petty officers, and together with OR-6 (petty officer 2nd class, referred to as senior non-commissioned officer) form the senior cadre of the non-commissioned (enlisted) members of the military. OR-5 (master seaman) and OR-4 (leading seaman) are referred to as junior non-commissioned officers, while OR-3 (able seaman) and OR-2 (ordinary seaman) are referred to as junior ranks.

Non-commissioned members

Commander Lieutenant-Commander Lieutenant Sub-Lieutenant Acting Sub-Lieutenant Naval Cadet
OF-4 OF-3 OF-2 OF-1 OF-1 Cadet
Cdr LCdr Lt(N) SLt A/SLt NCdt
Commissioned officer rank structure of the Royal Canadian Navy[19]
Commander-in-Chief Admiral Vice-Admiral Rear-Admiral Commodore Captain
Vice Regal OF-9 OF-8 OF-7 OF-6 OF-5
C-in-C Adm VAdm RAdm Cmdre Capt(N)

Naval officers are trained at the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ontario, the Royal Military College Saint-Jean in Saint-Jean, Quebec, the Naval Officer Training Centre Venture in Work Point, Esquimalt, British Columbia and Canadian Forces Naval Engineering School in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Some specialized candidates may be commissioned without attending the Royal Military College; the plan is known as Direct-Entry Officer (DEO) Plan. Senior NCOs may also be offered commissions on the basis that their training and experience gives them a comparable basis of knowledge; this is referred to as the Commission-from-the-Ranks (CFR) Plan. NCOs who are offered such promotions are typically petty officer 1st class or higher, with 20 or more years of service.

Commissioned officers of the Canadian Forces have pay grades ranging from OF-1 to OF-9. The only OF-9 position in the Canadian Forces is the Chief of the Defence Staff, who can be from any of the three elements. The highest position occupied in the current Royal Canadian Navy structure is OF-8, a vice-admiral who serves as the Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy and Chief of the Naval Staff. OF-6 (commodore) to OF-9 (admiral) are referred to as flag officers, OF-3 (lieutenant-commander) to OF-5 (captain (N)) are referred to as senior officers, while OF-2 (lieutenant (N)) and OF-1 (sub-lieutenant) are referred to as junior officers. Naval cadets are referred to as subordinate officers.[a 10] All except subordinate officers of the Canadian Forces receive a commission from the Queen of Canada. The commissioning scroll issued in recognition of the commission is signed by the Governor General of Canada as Commander-in-Chief and the serving Minister of National Defence, and subordinate officers are promoted to acting sub-lieutenant upon receiving their commissions.

Naval officer's commission

Commissioned officers


  • The Maritime Helicopter Project is an RCAF procurement project that will replace the 41 CH-124 Sea Kings with 28 CH-148 Cyclone shipborne anti-submarine warfare helicopters that will operate from RCN warships.[a 9] This project has been delayed by several years by the manufacturer, Sikorsky. So far seven counting the prototype helicopter have been delivered.
  • A CBC News report speculated that the RCN is considering the purchase of nuclear-powered submarines capable of extended under-ice operations as a replacement for the diesel-electric powered Victoria-class submarine fleet at the end of their life cycle about 2040. It should be noted that no agenda for this project has been tabled publicly by the federal government.[18] This project is similar to a proposal in the 1987 White Paper that also advocated nuclear submarines, though nothing came of it.
The CH-148 Cyclone will replace the 50-year-old Sea Kings
  • The Queenston-class Joint Support Ship Project is a program to replace the current Protecteur-class replenishment vessels with two to three new joint support ships, providing support to naval task forces, a limited sealift capability and limited theatre command and control.[a 6] The JSS project dates back to 2002–2003 and plans were advanced enough at the time to begin construction, though with the change in government in 2006 that project was cancelled and replaced with a less capable and smaller planned acquisition. The RCN has decided to place an order for 2–3 Berlin-class Replenishment ships under JSS, replacing the two Protecteur-class AORs. The ships will be built by Seaspan Marine Corporation at the Vancouver Shipyards facility located in North Vancouver, British Columbia. These Berlin class ships will displace approximately 22,250 tonnes in Canadian service.[14] The two ships currently being built are to be named for battles of the War of 1812. HMCS Queenston is the lead ship, followed by HMCS Châteauguay.[15][16]
  • Related to the JSS Project is the nascent Amphibious Assault Ship Project which had seen senior members of the Canadian Forces and DND discuss purchasing one to two amphibious assault ships or helicopter carriers for transporting and landing an assault force of up to 1,000 soldiers. Another project that grew from the experience of Canadian Forces' international peacekeeping deployments, this project is currently categorized as 'potentially viable' though a foreign shipyard would be required to do the work.
  • The Harry DeWolf-class Arctic Patrol Ship Project, announced in 2007, is a program to build six to eight Arctic patrol ships capable of operating with polar class 5 (PC-5) and to establish the Nanisivik Naval Facility, a deep water port in Arctic Bay, Baffin Island, Nunavut that would support RCN operations in the Northwest Passage and adjacent waters.[a 7] The project is currently under the design phase. In September 2014, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that the name of the first ship in the class would be Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship Harry DeWolf, named in honour of wartime Canadian naval hero Harry DeWolf, and that the class would be named the Harry DeWolf class.[17]
  • The Halifax-class frigate is currently undergoing a mid-life extension program[a 8] and it was revealed in the October 2011 announcement of the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy that the RCN would be procuring 15 vessels under the Single Class Surface Combatant Project to replace the 12 Halifax-class frigates and 3 Iroquois-class destroyers.

Under the administration of Stephen Harper many projects have been announced to modernize the Canadian Navy:

Future procurement


Since 1975, all aircraft supporting the RCN are operated by the Royal Canadian Air Force through 1 Canadian Air Division. Since 1995, all CH-124 Sea King helicopters have been operated by squadrons under 12 Wing (from Shearwater Heliport and Patricia Bay Heliport). Similarly, all CP-140 Aurora and CP-140A Arcturus anti-submarine, ship surveillance and maritime patrol aircraft have been operated by squadrons under 14 Wing at CFB Greenwood and 19 Wing at CFB Comox. There are currently 27 CH-124 Sea King helicopters configured for ship-borne anti-submarine warfare, 18 CP-140 Aurora fixed wing aircraft for land-based anti-submarine warfare and area surveillance, and 1 CP-140A Arcturus for land-based maritime surveillance.

A CH-124 Sea King lowers a crewman onto the deck of USNS Yukon during RIMPAC 2012.
A CP-140 Aurora escorted by a pair of CF-188 Hornets in 2012.


The RCN operates auxiliary vessels to support the Canadian Forces. These vessels are not warships and do not carry the HMCS designation. Among the auxiliary ships operated by the Navy are eight Orca-class patrol class training tenders, five Ville class harbour tugs, five Glen-class harbour tugs, and two fireboats of the Fire class.

Auxiliary vessels

On September 19, 2014, the Navy announced the decommissioning of its two resupply ships (HMCS Protecteur and HMCS Preserver), along with two destroyers (HMCS Algonquin and HMCS Iroquois). This leaves the Navy with a single destroyer - HMCS Athabaskan.[11] However Athabaskan has been plagued with engine problems, suffering multiple failures during while transiting the Atlantic Ocean, first in February 2015,[12] then again in October.[13]

The Navy operates 1 destroyer, 12 frigates, 4 patrol submarines, 12 coastal defence vessels and 8 unarmed patrol/training vessels. The surface ships, which carry the designation Her Majesty's Canadian Ship (HMCS), consist of one Iroquois-class destroyer, twelve Halifax-class multi-role patrol frigates and 12 Kingston-class coastal defence vessels. In addition to the surface vessels, the RCN owns four Victoria-class submarines that were acquired from the Royal Navy in 1998. These warships carry the designation Her Majesty's Canadian Submarine. The Royal Canadian Navy also maintains and operates HMCS Oriole, a historic sailing ship commissioned in 1952 as a sail training ship. Oriole is the oldest commissioned ship in the RCN and carries the royal designation and the battle honour Dunkirk, 1940.

HMCS Iroquois, a guided-missile destroyer, now retired



The Naval Reserve Headquarters (NAVRESHQ), located at the Pointe-a-Carcy Naval Complex in Quebec City, is responsible for twenty four Naval Reserve Divisions across the country. The base is also home to Canadian Forces Fleet School Quebec and HMCS Montcalm. The Naval Reserve is composed of 4,000 reservists.[a 5]


Comprising 15 warships and several auxiliary vessels homeported in Esquimalt, the Pacific Fleet is responsible for Canada' Exclusive Economic Zone on the West Coast and Canada's Area of Responsibility in the Pacific Ocean and the western Arctic Ocean. Fleet Naval Facility Cape Breton provides repair and maintenance services to the Pacific Fleet. The Royal Canadian Air Force's 443 Maritime Helicopter Squadron, based at Patricia Bay Heliport but under the control of 12 Wing Shearwater, provides shipborne helicopter support for the Pacific Fleet, while 19 Wing Comox provides fixed wing maritime air support for MARPAC through 407 Long Range Patrol Squadron.

The Royal Canadian Navy's Pacific Fleet, known as Canadian Fleet Pacific is co-located with Maritime Forces Pacific (MARPAC), the Western Navy Formation with headquarters at CFB Esquimalt in British Columbia, in the Greater Victoria region. MARPAC consists of over 4,000 naval personnel and 2,000 civilian personnel.[a 4]

Maritime Forces Pacific

The Atlantic Fleet, with 18 warships and a number of auxiliary vessels, is responsible for Canada's Exclusive Economic Zone on the East Coast, as well as Canada's Area of Responsibility in the Atlantic Ocean and the eastern Arctic Ocean.

The Royal Canadian Navy's Atlantic Fleet, known as Canadian Fleet Atlantic is co-located with Maritime Forces Atlantic (MARLANT), the Navy's East Coast Formation, with headquarters at CFB Halifax in Halifax, Nova Scotia. It is supported by CFS St. John's in Newfoundland. Attached to MARLANT and CFB Halifax is the Royal Canadian Air Force's 12 Wing Shearwater, based at Shearwater Heliport, which provides shipborne air support for the Atlantic Fleet. The RCAF's 14 Wing Greenwood provides fixed-wing air support for MARLANT through 404 Maritime Patrol and Training Squadron and 405 Maritime Patrol Squadron. Other Atlantic Fleet facilities are CFAD Bedford, an ammunition depot, and two radio stations, Naval Radio Section (NRS) Newport Corner and NRS Mill Cove.[a 3]

HMCS Ville de Québec, a MARLANT frigate

Maritime Forces Atlantic

The Royal Canadian Navy is headquartered at National Defence Headquarters (NDHQ) in Ottawa, Ontario. Since 1968, the Royal Canadian Navy has been an environmental command of the Canadian Armed Forces and since 2012 it has been charged with maintaining and generating forces for the Canadian Joint Operations Command.[a 1]


As of August 2015, with the loss of command-and-control and resupply capabilities, the RCN is classified as a Rank 6 navy (inshore coastal defense) on the Todd-Lindberg classification system of naval strength, dropping from Rank 3 (multiregional power projection) in 2005.[10]

On 16 August 2011, the government renamed the Canadian Forces' three environmental services: Maritime Command became the "Royal Canadian Navy", Air Command the "Royal Canadian Air Force," and Land Force Command the "Canadian Army."

The 1970s saw the addition of four Iroquois class destroyers, which were later updated to air-defence destroyers, and in the late 1980s and early 1990s the construction of twelve Halifax class frigates. In 1990, Canada deployed three warships to support the Operation Friction. Later in the decade, ships were deployed to patrol the Adriatic Sea during the Yugoslav Wars and the Kosovo War. More recently, Maritime Command provided vessels to serve as a part of Operation Apollo and to combat piracy off the coast of Somalia.

In 1968, under the Liberal government of Lester B. Pearson, the Royal Canadian Navy, Royal Canadian Air Force and Canadian Army were amalgamated to form the unified Canadian Forces. This process was overseen by then Defence Minister Paul Hellyer. The controversial merger resulted in the abolition of the Royal Canadian Navy as a separate legal entity. All personnel, ships, and aircraft became part of Maritime Command (MARCOM), an element of the Canadian Armed Forces. The traditional naval uniform was eliminated and all naval personnel were required to wear the new Canadian Armed Forces rifle green uniform, adopted also by former Royal Canadian Air Force and Canadian Army personnel. Ship-borne aircraft continued to be under the command of MARCOM, while shore-based patrol aircraft of the former Royal Canadian Air Force were transferred to MARCOM. In 1975 Air Command was formed and all maritime aircraft were transferred to Air Command's Maritime Air Group. The unification of the Canadian Forces in 1968 was the first time that a nation with a modern military combined its formerly separate naval, land and air elements into a single service.

HMCS Algonquin operating in formation with the US Navy aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis and a Ticonderoga-class cruiser in 2004.


From 1950 to 1955, during the Korean War, Canadian destroyers maintained a presence off the Korean peninsula, engaging in shore bombardments and maritime interdiction. During the Cold War, the Navy developed an anti-submarine capability to counter the growing Soviet naval threat.[8][9] In the 1960s, the Royal Canadian Navy retired most of its Second World War vessels, and further developed its anti-submarine warfare capabilities by acquiring the Sikorsky CH-124 Sea King, and successfully pioneered the use of large maritime helicopters on small surface vessels. At that time, Canada was also operating an aircraft carrier, HMCS Bonaventure, flying the McDonnell F2H Banshee fighter jet until 1962, as well as various other anti-submarine aircraft.[3]

In 1940–41, the Royal Canadian Navy Reserves scheme for training yacht club members developed the first central registry system.[7]

After the war, the Royal Canadian Navy took over certain responsibilities of the Department of Transport's Marine Service, and slowly started to build its fleet, with the first warships specifically designed for the RCN being commissioned in 1932.[4] At the outbreak of the Second World War, the Navy had 11 combat vessels, 145 officers and 1,674 men.[5] During the Second World War, the Royal Canadian Navy expanded significantly, ultimately gaining responsibility for the entire Northwest Atlantic theatre of war. By the end of the war, the RCN had become the fifth-largest navy in the world after the United States Navy, the Royal Navy, the Imperial Japanese Navy, and the Soviet Navy, with over 300 vessels. During the Battle of the Atlantic, the RCN sank 31 U-boats and sank or captured 42 enemy surface vessels, while successfully completing 25,343 merchant crossings. The Navy lost 24 ships and 1,797 sailors in the war.[6]

During the first years of the First World War, the RCN's six-vessel naval force patrolled both the North American west and east coasts to deter the German naval threat, with a seventh ship, HMCS Shearwater joining the force in 1915. Just before the end of the war in 1918, the Royal Canadian Naval Air Service was established with the purpose of carrying out anti-submarine operations; however, it was disbanded after the armistice of 11 November.[3]

An F2H-3 Banshee is waiting to be catapulted from HMCS Bonaventure in 1957; a CS2F Tracker sits parked on deck alongside.


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