Royal Canadian Navy history and heritage

Royal Canadian Navy Ensign

Founded in 1910 as the Naval Service of Canada and given Royal Sanction in 1911, the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) was placed under the Department of National Defence in 1923, and amalgamated with the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Canadian Army to form the unified Canadian Forces in 1968, after which it was known as "Maritime Command" until 2011. 

On August 16, 2011, the government renamed Maritime Command the "Royal Canadian Navy."

True to its motto “Ready, Aye, Ready”, the sailors of the RCN stand always ready to defend Canada and proudly safeguard its interests and values whether at home or abroad.

Over the course of its history, the RCN has served in the First and Second World Wars, the Korean War, the First Gulf War, the Afghanistan War and numerous United Nations peacekeeping missions and NATO operations.

Services and information

HMCS Haida

The only remaining Second World War Tribal-class destroyer, Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship Haida is now a National Historic Site and was designated the RCN’s flagship in 2018.

Naval museums and historic sites

Learn about the Royal Canadian Navy’s important role in shaping this country, its sacrifices in battle and its proud contribution to global security and prosperity.

Canadian Naval Heroes

Learn about Canadian naval heroes and view graphic vignettes about some of their most heroic and exciting exploits.

The Battle of the Atlantic

The Battle of the Atlantic was the longest battle of the Second World War and was fought at sea from 1939 to 1945. Much of the burden of fighting the battle fell to the RCN.

Royal Canadian Navy Sculptor-in-Residence

The Royal Canadian Navy has a sculptor-in-residence. Here is how the post came about and some background on Christian Corbet, the current sculptor.

History of Commander Royal Canadian Navy

Since the creation of Canada’s Navy in 1910, the title of the Navy’s top officer has changed several times, reflecting changes to the Navy and to Canada’s military over the years.

Ships’ histories

Profiles of the Royal Canadian Navy’s ships, including histories, photos, dimensions, capabilities and battle honours.

The Naval Service of Canada 1910-2010

This history chronicles the first full century, 1910-2010, of Canada’s navy as a proud national institution.

1910 to 2010: Centenniel image gallery

View the Royal Canadian Navy centennial image gallery.

Niobe Day

Niobe Day is celebrated by the Royal Canadian Navy on the 21st day of October each year. It marks the day the first Canadian warship entered Canada’s territorial waters.

The Canadian Naval Ensign

A naval ensign is a flag worn by a warship to indicate its nationality.

Canadian submarine history

Learn the history of how our dedicated sailors have used these complex vessels to help defend Canada.

The explosion in HMCS Kootenay

Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship Kootenay explosion is the worst peacetime accident in the history of the Royal Canadian Navy.

Date modified: