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Navy Centennial

Types of vessels

Many different types of ships have been used by the Navy’s roster throughout its history. From only two ships in the early years — the former Royal Navy cruisers Rainbow and Niobe — to hundreds during the Second World War, the Canadian Navy now has a fleet of 33 sea vessels, with both an air component and some training and support vessels as well.

Current vessels

Today’s Navy has five main types of ships: destroyers (3), frigates (12), supply ships (2), coastal defence (12) and submarines (4). The type of ship usually designates its function, and each ship is also further defined by a class name. Ships of the same class are generally copies of one another, but styles can vary among builders, and ships can be modified after being launched. The Navy’s four submarines are all Victoria Class, and one of them is named HMCS Victoria. This follows the practice of having the first ship in a class share its name with that class. Other examples include the supply ship HMCS Protecteur, of the Protecteur Class, and the destroyer HMCS Iroquois, of the Iroquois Class.

Details of vessels

The primary function of Canada’s destroyers is to command and defend a formation of ships and provide air defence. A destroyer can travel at over 29 knots — roughly equivalent to 54 kilometres per hour, about the speed of a frigate. Approximately the same size as a destroyer, the frigate is widely considered the workhorse of the Canadian Navy. It is able to deal with surface and air attacks and can carry helicopters. Destroyers and supply ships also have the capacity to carry helicopters.

The supply ships, the largest of the current fleet, move slightly slower than frigates and destroyers, reaching speeds of 20 knots, about 37 kilometres per hour. Crew sizes range from up to 300 people in the large ships to 31 in smaller ships, like the coastal defence vessels. These agile ships patrol Canada’s coastal regions and reach speeds of 15 knots, around 28 kilometres per hour.

Canadian Navy submarines can travel at up to 37 kilometres per hour underwater and are about 15 kilometres per hour slower at the surface. They are armed with heavy torpedoes. Air Force Sea King helicopters and Aurora long-range patrol aircraft provide additional support, particularly for surveillance and in coordinating attacks. The Navy also uses other sea vessels for support and training purposes such as the Orca Class patrol craft training vessels.


This piece features a breakdown of Canada’s navy fleet and its various capabilities. Users can select to learn details about Destroyers, Supply Ships, Submarines, Frigates, Coastal Defence and Training, each supported with full-colour imagery.


On the next page:

Organization of Navy

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Quiz :

In what year was the Canadian Navy established?