The Navy and the Coast Guard

Canada has two sea-going services – the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) and the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG). Why two? They operate different ships and, while their tasks sometimes overlap and they often cooperate, they are different organizations with their own responsibilities, capabilities and mandates. The CCG is a civilian service part of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), providing environmental protection, maritime search and rescue, icebreaking, navigational assistance, fisheries patrols, monitoring vessels in Canadian waters, and support to law enforcement.

The RCN is a military service, under the jurisdiction of the Department of National Defence (DND), and it operates warships tasked with defence and overseas power projection. While naval ships in peace-time can and do participate in search and rescue operations and humanitarian assistance/disaster relief (HA/DR), and so on, this is not their primary purpose. Both of these services are in the process of getting their fleets updated through the National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS).

To find out more about the different roles and responsibilities, read the Naval Association of Canada’s Briefing Note #22, at


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