Navy gets royal review

An event that’s rarely seen in Canadian waters takes place today in Halifax harbour as the Queen reviews a flotilla of international warships on the city’s waterfront.

HALIFAX — An event that’s rarely seen in Canadian waters takes place today in Halifax harbour as the Queen reviews a flotilla of international warships on the city’s waterfront.

About two dozen ships, including the British aircraft carrier Ark Royal, will line the harbour to mark the Canadian navy’s 100th anniversary.

The review is one of the highlights of the Queen’s 22nd visit to Canada, which began Monday with her arrival in Halifax.

Fleet reviews were originally done as a show of military strength, but today’s event promises to be much more congenial with eight countries participating.

Princess Margaret conducted the first fleet review in Canada in July 1958 to mark British Columbia’s centenary, and 11 months later the Queen reviewed Canadian and American warships near Montreal at the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway. Queen Elizabeth reviewed 30 ships and submarines of the Royal Canadian Navy in Halifax harbour later in 1959.

The Defence Department says a fleet review was held on the east and west coasts in 1985 to mark the navy’s 75th year.

Retired vice-admiral Dusty Miller, who is slated to be on HMCS Athabaskan for the fleet review, said the event is important for the navy.

“It rarely happens, so it’s pretty special,” Miller said.

The second day of the tour centres on the navy’s history as the Queen and Prince Philip are also scheduled to present a plaque honouring HMCS Sackville, Canada’s naval memorial.