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Rare moment as Queen reviews warships By Alison Auld And Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press


Reuters Photo: Britain's Queen Elizabeth walks down a wharf after departing from the frigate HMCS St. John's.

Queen Elizabeth II, pictured on June 12, marked the 100th anniversary of Canada's navy by taking part Tuesday in an international fleet review at the port of Halifax, on the Atlantic coast. Photo: Adrian Dennis/AFP/

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HALIFAX - The waters around downtown Halifax looked like a scene from the city's wartime past on Tuesday as the Queen reviewed a flotilla of destroyers, frigates and an aircraft carrier from around the world.

Day Two of the Queen's nine-day visit to Canada had a naval theme as the fleet review gave civilians and sailors alike a chance to witness an event that's rarely seen in Canadian waters.

The review included 28 international coast guard vessels and warships — including the British aircraft carrier Ark Royal, the USS Wasp, an imposing American assault ship, and the submarine HMCS Corner Brook.

The review was part of the Canadian navy's 100th anniversary celebrations.

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Before the fleet inspection, the Queen — who wore a blue straw hat wrapped in a band of white ribbon, and a white silk coat with blue bows on the sleeves and pockets over a white dress — attended an official luncheon at Canadian Forces Base Halifax. The Queen also wore a white bow-shaped brooch, set in blue sapphires and diamonds, that belonged to the Queen Mother.

Outside, sailors in their dress white uniforms and children with flowers waited for the 84-year-old Queen Elizabeth's arrival.

Shelley Lively, who works at the base, held a small Canadian flag outside Juno Tower, where the luncheon was held.

"It might be the last chance I get to see her during my career so I'm very proud to be here," she said.

Linda Moore said she couldn't pass up the opportunity to see the Queen.

"It's an honour and a privilege to see her. This is the first time that I've seen her so close and I'm really excited about that," she said. "I'm also proud to be part of the navy and to be part of the 100 years of the centennial."

The Queen also unveiled a newly minted $1 coin with a Halifax-class frigate on it.

The fleet review is one of the highlights of the Queen's 22nd visit to Canada.

The Wasp and Ark Royal flew Canadian flags that were hoisted over the Peace Tower on Victoria Day.

The first of two 21-gun salutes was fired by HMCS Charlottetown as the Queen passed on board the frigate HMCS St. John's, accompanied by Prince Philip and Prime Minister Stephen Harper, among other dignitaries. Philip wore a Canadian navy uniform for the fleet review.

Canada's aerobatic team, the Snowbirds, was scheduled to be part of a multination flypast that was to include vintage aircraft and Hornet fighter jets. But poor visibility on a misty day in Halifax caused the flypast to be cancelled.

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America and Europe

Brazil, Denmark, the Netherlands and France also sent vessels to participate in the review, which followed an international exercise off the eastern seaboard.

The Queen rose from her seat as she passed each ship. Crew on the anchored warships and coast guard vessels gave three cheers and waved their caps as her frigate sailed past.

Fleet reviews were originally done as a show of military strength.

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.

After the review, the Queen unveiled a plaque to mark the importance of HMCS Sackville, the last of 120 Royal Canadian Navy corvettes that served during the Second World War. It now serves as a floating museum and as Canada’s National Naval Memorial.

The small ship, built in Saint John, N.B., played a key role in protecting convoys during the Battle of the Atlantic, one of the longest campaigns of the war.

The ship saw its share of combat as it escorted merchant ships from St. John’s, N.L., to Ireland.

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