Organization of Navy
The headquarters for the entire Canadian Forces are in Ottawa. Another important centre is in Québec, where the Naval Reserve Headquarters are based. These headquarters oversee and coordinate the reserve forces in the two dozen Naval Reserve Divisions spread across Canada.
The 33 vessels in the Canadian Navy are stationed in two main ports: Halifax and Esquimalt, B.C. Nineteen are based on the east coast, and the remaining 14 are on the west coast.
Maritime Forces Atlantic
Maritime Forces Atlantic is commonly referred to as MARLANT, and Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Halifax is its largest base. Personnel-wise, CFB Halifax is also the largest military base in Canada, with more than 5,000 military and over 2,000 civilian staff. This includes staff for the Air Force and the Army.
When not out on training exercises or operational missions, the vessels of the Atlantic fleet stay in Her Majesty’s Canadian Dockyard (HMC Dockyard), on the western side of Halifax Harbour. As a security measure, civilian ships are not allowed to sail near the dockyard or the surrounding military facilities.
The dockyard is historically significant. Built in 1759 by Britain’s Royal Navy as a dockyard for the British Empire, it was passed over to Canadian government control in 1907, making it one of Canada’s oldest military establishments in continuous use. Ships and crew based here are responsible for the Atlantic and eastern Arctic region.
There are more ships on the east coast than on the west coast due to the Standing NATO Maritime Group 1, previously known as the Standing Naval Force Atlantic. This obliges the Canadian government to have ships on standby for possible NATO operations.
Maritime Forces Pacific
Maritime Forces Pacific, or MARPAC, is headquartered at CFB Esquimalt, just west of Victoria, B.C. The harbour and the overall base are smaller than CFB Halifax, but still, there are 1,500 buildings spread over more than 4,000 hectares. The staff is slightly smaller than that at CFB Halifax as well, with approximately 4,000 military personnel and 2,000 civilians working on the base for all three branches of the Forces.
The port at Esquimalt Harbour started out as a base for the Royal Navy in the 1850s and was turned over to the new Canadian Navy in 1910. Ships and crews at this port are responsible for the Pacific and western Arctic region. Similar to the ships from MARLANT, MARPAC does sovereignty patrols, works with other government agencies in crime prevention and engages in cross-border operations with American government departments. Some ships spend almost half the year at sea, patrolling, training, visiting remote communities, doing search and rescue operations and conducting international maritime missions.
This interactive map allows users to select specific areas throughout Canada to learn details on the Naval presence for that area. Each area includes a personal profile of certain significant figures in the Canadian Navy.