The RCN and the Maritime Coastal Defence Vessels

We know that the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) is a blue-water navy, and RCN warships regularly sail to distant lands to work with allies. But what about closer to home? The navy undertakes tasks such as defence of Canadian sovereignty, securing Canada’s maritime approaches, drug interdiction operations, fisheries patrols, search and rescue, route surveying and support to civilian agencies. While a frigate may be used for these tasks, the RCN now often employs the Kingston-class Maritime Coastal Defence Vessels (MCDVs), which were built in the 1990s.

The MCDVs are smaller in terms of size and crew than a frigate, and they are only lightly armed. Canada has 12 of them, split between the East and West Coasts. The MCDVs provide a useful supplement to the Halifax-class frigates, and in recent years have been taking on greater roles farther from Canada (eg., counter-narcotic patrols in the Caribbean and naval diplomacy/capacity-building in West Africa).

If you want to know more about these ships, check out the Briefing Note published by the Naval Association of Canada at


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