The inaugural of Halifax’s first international fleet week echoed with the traditional bell ringing, looking forward to the arrival of over 1,200 navy sailors in the city. This event presents an opportunity for citizens to delve into the history, present accomplishments, and promising future of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN).
Commodore Trevor MacLean, speaking at the waterfront during the official inauguration on Thursday morning, expressed an earnest wish to illuminate the realities of navy life—”what we do for Canada, how we live and work at sea, and what goes on in our dockyard.” Halifax Mayor Mike Savage acknowledged the profound influence the navy holds within the community, noting with sentiment, “It’s said that we have saltwater running in our veins, and that’s true.”
The celebration sees participation from service members not just from Canada, but also from the United States, Germany, Britain, and France – countries hailed as “important allies” by Defence Minister Bill Blair. The beginning of the fleet week offered an opportunity for a personal tour of the renowned Canadian naval memorial, HMCS Sackville for Blair.
The last-standing allied Corvette from the Second World War, HMCS Sackville, witnessed the honoring of the Canadian Naval Memorial Trust’s chairman, Bill Woodbury, with a distinctive plaque celebrating the 82-year-old vessel. This gesture was lauded as honoring “Sackville and our commitment and our link, and our cooperation that dates back to the Battle of the Atlantic,” by RCN Commander (Retired) Gary Reddy.
The plaque recognized the vessel’s past with a bearing steel from the British warship, HMS Belfast, from the same era. Skirting the jetty, the HMCS Sackville, the world’s last remaining flower class Corvette, stood alongside another warship, HMCS Moncton. “It’s the old together with the new,” Reddy remarked.
Throughout the week, the public will be privy to explore some of the RCN’s current ships, including HMCS Moncton. The ship’s captain, Lt Commander Carlo Amunategui, professed his hope that the event would inspire a new generation to consider a naval career and deepen the understanding of the demanding, yet gratifying life at sea.
While the week touts numerous entertaining activities such as fireworks, music, and a special rugby game, it also highlights active deployments supporting allies in Europe and the Indo-Pacific. Commodore MacLen, Commander of Canadian Fleet Atlantic, further reminded attendees of the RCN’s significant role as an access point into the Canadian Arctic, with HMCS Harry DeWolf presently patrolling the northwest passage.
For RCN members, this is their reality, a service at sea, anchored from a city that lies at the heart of the nation’s navy.