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Ensign of Royal Canadian Navy since 2013

The Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) is tasked to provide maritime security along the Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic coasts of Canada, exercise Canada's sovereignty over the Arctic archipelago, and support Canada's multi-national and bilateral interests overseas. The RCN fleet comprises the Pacific Fleet at Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Esquimalt, and the Atlantic Fleet at CFB Halifax. CFB Esquimalt is located on Vancouver Island, in British Columbia, and is home to 15 vessels and 6,000 staff, the headquarters for Maritime Forces Pacific, Her Majesty's Canadian (HMC) Dockyard Esquimalt, Fleet Maintenance Facility – Cape Breton (FMF-CB), Fire Fighting and Damage Control School, the Naval Officer Training Centre (NOTC Venture), and extensive housing. CFB Halifax is home port for the 18 vessels of the Canadian Atlantic Fleet and situated in Halifax, Nova Scotia. CFB Halifax employs 7,000 civilians and military staff, and hosts the Canadian Atlantic Fleet headquarters, HMC Dockyard Halifax, FMF Cape Scott, extensive maritime research facilities, an ammunition depot, and the four maritime squadrons of the Royal Canadian Air Force that serve aboard the fleet.[1][2] The Canadian Armed Forces are currently constructing a new naval facility at Nanisivik, Baffin Island, to provide a summer port for RCN patrols in the Canadian arctic.[3]

With the loss of area air defence capabilities in 2015 (and, temporarily, at-sea replenishment capabilities), the RCN was, at that time, classified as a Rank 5 navy (offshore regional coastal defence) on the Todd-Lindberg classification system, dropping from Rank 3 (multiregional power projection).[4] In 2011, the government restored the traditional name of the Royal Canadian Navy, removed at the unification of the Canadian Armed Forces in 1968. Commissioned vessels are designated as 'Her Majesty's Canadian Ship' (HMCS), minor ships as 'Patrol Craft Training' (PCT) and auxiliaries as 'Canadian Forces Auxiliary Vessel' (CFAV).[5]


HMCS Corner Brook entering St John's harbour on Newfoundland

The Victoria class are British built diesel-electric fleet submarines designed in the late 1970s to supplement the Royal Navy's nuclear submarine force. They were decommissioned at the end of the Cold War. In 1998, Canada purchased the submarines to replace the aging Oberon-class submarines. Refit for Canadian service included the removal of Sub-Harpoon missile firing and mine-laying capabilities, installation of torpedo launch systems and upgrades to weapons and fire control systems. Each vessel holds 53 crew.[6]

Ship Pennant Armament Displacement Propulsion Service
Builder Laid down Commissioned Fleet
HMCS Victoria SSK 876
  • 2,220 t surfaced
  • 2,439 t submerged
  • Diesel-electric (37 MW (50,000 hp))
  • 2 Paxman Valenta 16 RPA diesel generators, 4,070 hp (3,030 kW)
  • 2 GEC, 5,000 kW (6,700 hp) motor-generators
Cammell Laird 12 August 1987 December 2000 Pacific
HMCS Windsor SSK 877 Cammell Laird 13 March 1990 October 2003 Atlantic
HMCS Corner Brook SSK 878 Cammell Laird 10 January 1989 March 2003 Pacific
HMCS Chicoutimi SSK 879
  • 2,296 t surfaced
  • 2,540 t submerged
Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering February 1983 September 2015 Pacific


HMCS Halifax en route to Haiti in January 2010 as part of Operation Hestia'

The Halifax-class frigates are multi-role vessels with anti-submarine, anti-aircraft and anti-ship capability. In response to recent global security interests, the role of the class has shifted from open ocean to littoral engagement. Innovations in operational tactics have allowed the vessels of this class to adapt to new asymmetric surface threats. To ensure effective long-term capacity in this new threat environment the ships are undergoing a refit, including passive and active weapons, radars, and new combat architecture to meet the modern requirements. To date, seven of the twelve ships have been refitted. Each holds a complement of 225 officers and crew. All ships of the class are named after major Canadian cities.[7][8]

Ship Pennant Armament Displacement Propulsion Service
Builder Laid down Commissioned Fleet
HMCS Halifax FFH 330
  • 3,995 t (light)
  • 4,795 t (operational)
  • 5,032 t (deep load)
Saint John Shipbuilding 19 March 1987 29 June 1992 Atlantic
HMCS Vancouver FFH 331 Saint John Shipbuilding 19 May 1988 23 August 1993 Pacific
HMCS Ville de Québec FFH 332 Davie Shipbuilding 16 December 1988 14 July 1994 Atlantic
HMCS Toronto FFH 333 Saint John Shipbuilding 22 April 1989 29 July 1993 Atlantic
HMCS Regina FFH 334 Davie Shipbuilding 6 October 1989 29 December 1993 Pacific
HMCS Calgary FFH 335 Davie Shipbuilding 15 June 1991 12 May 1995 Pacific
HMCS Montréal FFH 336 Saint John Shipbuilding 8 February 1991 21 July 1994 Atlantic
HMCS Fredericton FFH 337 Saint John Shipbuilding 25 April 1992 10 September 1994 Atlantic
HMCS Winnipeg FFH 338 Saint John Shipbuilding 20 March 1993 23 June 1995 Pacific
HMCS Charlottetown FFH 339 Saint John Shipbuilding 18 December 1993 9 September 1995 Atlantic
HMCS St. John's FFH 340 Saint John Shipbuilding 24 August 1994 16 June 1996 Atlantic
HMCS Ottawa FFH 341 Saint John Shipbuilding 29 April 1995 28 September 1996 Pacific

Maritime coastal defence vessels

HMCS Brandon, a maritime coastal defence vessel

The Kingston-class coastal defence vessels are multi-role vessels built and launched from the mid- to late-1990s and are crewed by a combination of Naval Reserve and Regular-Force personnel. Each vessel displaces 970 t and runs with a complement of between 31 and 47 officers and crew. Their main missions are counter narcotics, coastal surveillance, sovereignty patrol, route survey, and training. The ships' capabilities include a mechanical minesweeping system, a route survey system, and a bottom object inspection vehicle.[9][10]

Ship Pennant Armament Displacement Propulsion Service
Builder Laid down Commissioned Fleet
HMCS Kingston MM 700 970 t
  • 2 × Jeumont DC electric motors
  • 4 × 600VAC Wärtsilä SACM V12 diesel alternators
Halifax Shipyards 12 December 1994 21 September 1996 Atlantic
HMCS Glace Bay MM 701 Halifax Shipyards 28 April 1995 26 October 1996 Atlantic
HMCS Nanaimo MM 702 Halifax Shipyards 11 August 1995 10 May 1997 Pacific
HMCS Edmonton MM 703 Halifax Shipyards 8 December 1995 21 June 1997 Pacific
HMCS Shawinigan MM 704 Halifax Shipyards 26 April 1996 14 June 1997 Atlantic
HMCS Whitehorse MM 705 Halifax Shipyards 26 July 1996 17 April 1998 Pacific
HMCS Yellowknife MM 706 Halifax Shipyards 7 November 1996 18 April 1998 Pacific
HMCS Goose Bay MM 707 Halifax Shipyards 22 February 1997 26 July 1998 Atlantic
HMCS Moncton MM 708 Halifax Shipyards 31 May 1997 12 July 1998 Atlantic
HMCS Saskatoon MM 709 Halifax Shipyards 5 September 1997 5 December 1998 Pacific
HMCS Brandon MM 710 Halifax Shipyards 6 December 1997 5 June 1999 Pacific
HMCS Summerside MM 711 Halifax Shipyards 28 March 1998 18 July 1999 Atlantic

Patrol craft training vessels

PCT Orca amongst the Gulf Islands off British Columbia. 2007

Orca-class patrol vessels are primarily used for one-to-six-week long 'at sea' naval officer training. Regular force boatswains, engineers and naval communicators serve in these ships to train junior officers and non-commissioned sailors. They also patrol coastal waters for pollution infractions and fishing violations, and are frequently tasked for search and rescue operations. They operate year-round in the coastal waters of British Columbia.[11][12]

Name Pennant number Commissioned Builder Fleet
Orca PCT 55 9 November 2006 Victoria Shipyards Pacific
Raven PCT 56 15 March 2007 Victoria Shipyards Pacific
Caribou PCT 57 31 July 2007 Victoria Shipyards Pacific
Renard PCT 58 13 September 2007 Victoria Shipyards Pacific
Wolf PCT 59 29 November 2007 Victoria Shipyards Pacific
Grizzly PCT 60 19 March 2008 Victoria Shipyards Pacific
Cougar PCT 61 2 October 2008 Victoria Shipyards Pacific
Moose PCT 62 27 November 2008 Victoria Shipyards Pacific

Support and auxiliary vessels

HMCS Oriole is the oldest commissioned ship in the navy.[13]

Interim Auxiliary Replenishment Vessel

  • MV Asterix

Sail training ship

Torpedo and sound ranging vessels

  • CFAV Sikanni (YTP 611)
  • CFAV Stikine (YTP 613)

Yard diving tenders

  • Unnamed (YDT 11)
  • CFAV Granby (YDT 12)
  • CFAV Tonnerre (YDT 21)
  • CFAV Sechelt (YDT 610)
  • CFAV Sooke (YDT 612)


  • CFAV Firebird (YTR 561) - retired in 2014 and awaiting disposal
  • CFAV Firebrand (YTR 562)


Yard auxiliary general

  • CFAV Pelican (YAG 4)
  • CFAV Gemini (YAG 650)
  • CFAV Pegasus (YAG 651)
  • CFAV Albatross (YAG 661)
  • CFAV Black Duck (YAG 660)

Development and procurement

Harry DeWolf under construction in May 2018

The new Protecteur class of ships will be based on the German Berlin-class replenishment ship

The RCN is undergoing a complex program of capacity expansion, ship life extension, modernization and fleet procurement. The Nanisivik Naval Facility currently under construction on Baffin Island in the arctic will provide shore services for fleet operations in the arctic during the four month summer season.[14][15] The National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy will invest more than $60 billion into the development of Arctic capable patrol vessels, frigate-class surface warships, and long-range auxiliary supply vessels. Construction has begun on the six Harry DeWolf-class vessels under the Arctic Patrol Ship Project. (A further two AOPS are planned for the Canadian Coast Guard). The commercial containership MS Asterix is currently in service as a fleet supply vessel, to meet operational requirements until the two new Protecteur-class auxiliary vessels are completed.[16][17] While up to 15 warships of the Single Class Surface Combatant Project remain in the planning stages, the RCN is upgrading all current frigates with advanced systems and life extension maintenance to maximize operational capability into the 2030s.[18] In addition to the fleet component, the Canadian Armed Forces has replaced the former CH-124 Sea King helicopters with the CH-148 Cyclone. The first six Cyclones were delivered June 2015[19][20] followed by a further two Block 1.1 Cyclones in November/December 2015. As of February 2019, 17 interim Cyclones had been delivered and the aircraft had reached initial operating capability. On 29 April 2019 Ocean Industries was awarded a contract to build four tugboats to replace both the Fire-class fireboat (one retired in 2014) and Glen-class tugs to be delivered beginning in 2021.[21]


Displacement Ship displacement at full load
Propulsion Number of shafts, type of propulsion system, and top speed generated
Service The dates work began and finished on the ship and its ultimate fate
Laid down The date the keel began to be assembled
Launched The date the ship was launched

See also


  1. Navy, Government of Canada, National Defence, Royal Canadian. "Royal Canadian Navy: Home". 
  2. Gimblett, Richard. "Royal Canadian Navy". 
  3. Bird, Michael (4 March 2015). "Making waves: The Navy's Arctic ambition revealed". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 24 March 2015. 
  4. Gilmore, Scott. "The Sinking of the Canadian Navy". Maclean's. Retrieved 16 August 2015. 
  5. Navy, Government of Canada, National Defence, Royal Canadian. "Fleet & Units | Royal Canadian Navy". 
  6. Navy, Government of Canada, National Defence, Royal Canadian. "Submarines / Fleet & Units / Royal Canadian Navy". 
  7. Navy, Government of Canada, National Defence, Royal Canadian. "Frigates / Fleet & Units / Royal Canadian Navy". 
  8. "Halifax Class Frigates, Canada". Kable. 
  9. Navy, Government of Canada, National Defence, Royal Canadian. "Maritime Coastal Defence Vessels | Fleet & Units | Royal Canadian Navy". 
  10. Saunders, Stephen, ed (2008). Jane's Fighting Ships 2008–2009. Jane's Fighting Ships (111th ed.). Surrey: Jane's Information Group. p. 95. ISBN 978-0-7106-2845-9. OCLC 225431774. 
  11. "Fast tests keep new Canadian navy training ships on schedule". 
  12. Navy, Government of Canada, National Defence, Royal Canadian. "Orca Class | Minor Vessels | Fleet & Units | Royal Canadian Navy". 
  13. Macpherson, Ken (2002). The ships of Canada's naval forces 1910–2002. St. Catharines, Ontario: Vandall. ISBN 1-55125-072-1. 
  14. Rogers, Sarah (6 March 2015). "Nanisivik naval fuel station postponed until 2018: National Defence". NunatsiaqOnline. Retrieved 24 March 2015. 
  15. Bird, Michael (4 March 2015). "Making waves: The Navy's Arctic ambition revealed". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 24 March 2015. 
  16. Rosamond, Jon (4 October 2015). "Canada turns to Asterix for stop gap at-sea support". IHS Jane's 360. Retrieved 6 October 2015. 
  17. Navy, Government of Canada, National Defence, Royal Canadian. "Joint Support Ship (JSS) | The Fleet | Royal Canadian Navy". 
  18. Defence, Government of Canada, National. "National Defence | Canadian Armed Forces | Backgrounder | Halifax-Class Modernization (HCM) / Frigate Life Extension (FELEX)". 
  19. Navy, Government of Canada, National Defence, Royal Canadian. "Royal Canadian Navy: Home". 
  20. "Maritime Helicopter Project". Government of Canada. 
  21. Pugliese, David (29 April 2019). "Ocean Industries to build four tugs for the Royal Canadian Navy". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved 30 April 2019. 

Bibliography and further reading

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